Although the planning of our trip has overall been something of a disaster, we sure knew how to end things right – MTN Bushfire 2017! The festival brought many exciting experiences. I got to see one of my all time favourite artists live (Jeremy freaking Loops!), we planted trees in a game park, we listened to awesome music, and for the duration of the festival we got to express our African pride, or, in Louise’s case, pride about being in Africa. This post is long overdue, without any good reason – so let the reading commence!
On Thursday we collected my mother from the airport – excitement growing for the impending festival in the mountains of Swaziland. Early the next morning we drove out of Maputo, Louise waving goodbye to the city which has brought her countless days on a sofa. By leaving so early we were hoping to avoid the madness at the border gates, festival entrance, and campsite. We arrived at the festival around noon, and attempted to set up a massive tent on an empty stomach – this caused many a bicker and sigh. Since the festival grounds were not yet open, we decided to follow my parents to the golf course for lunch.
By the time we arrived back at the campsite, the sun was on its way down and we got to experience the first sunset of the 2017 edition of Bushfire – and let me tell you, it is stunning!
People were gearing up for a weekend of music and dance, we were surrounded by song despite there still being a few hours until the first act. We walked into the still quiet festival grounds, where people were seizing the opportunity to explore the area without the crowds of people and smell of dope. With our golden lounge VIP tickets, we enjoyed a cold drink and watched the excitement grow.
The first night we listened to: the South African artist who is nominated for 3 awards – Mathew Mole; the slightly creepy Jojo Abot; and many more awesome acts.
Louise and I, being the very youthful spirits that we are, made it all the way to midnight and then collapsed on our air-beds… I know, I know, we are wild!
The best thing about bushfire is the atmosphere – the down to earth and chill atmosphere… it might have something to do with all the weed being passed around, but either way, it is much more pleasant than the other festivals I have attended… Namely, Jelling Festival, where you have people passing out left, right, and center. On Saturday morning, I got up early and had coffee with my parents on the quiet festival area. We lounged about for the day, listening to the soft jazz music as the sun warmed us up from the freezing night in the tent. I doubt Louise thought she would be that cold in Africa! I spent that night wrapped up in nearly every single item of clothing that I had packed.
I was really feeling my African roots as we headed to the food market for lunch, where Louise and I got the pap and chicken. Louise was not all to excited my the prospect of eating with her hands, instead she tried in vain to cut the chicken with the only piece of cutlery we had gotten – a plastic spoon. I, on the other hand, am adamant that pap/ugali/posho/xima, or whatever you want to call it, must be eaten with your fingers.
Overall, the food at the festival was just perfect! We, on many occasions, returned to the vegan stand for falafels, pancakes, burgers and date rusks. On Saturday evening, I was getting more and more excited for the appearance of Jeremy Loops. In preparation, Louise and I went on a walk through the grounds, in search of mealies and peanuts, which we eventually found.
The whole evening was filled with the most wonderful music, which even managed to get me to – not dance, but – sway and bounce a little. After sending my slightly intoxicated parents to bed, Louise and I enjoyed the rest of the evening with cider, a hot fire, and atmospheric music.
Now, seeing Jeremy Loops live, might just be one of the best things that has ever happened to me, despite the fact that his performance wasn’t quite up to par with my expectations – I blame the planning of the program. Overall, Bushfire’s program was spot on: the music was chill and jazzy in the afternoon and more up-beat and perfect for dancing in the evening. But Jeremy was misplaced, he came after brilliant West African artist, Femi Koya, who really managed to get people up on their feet and moving. Jeremy Loops’ progressive folk/activist music put a bit of a damper on the otherwise very lively crowd. But he was still magical. At the end of his act, he told the audience that he would be planting trees the next morning in the nearby national park. He invited us all to join him. This was a two in one for me – getting to be part of something which directly impacts our environment, and possibly getting to meet the man himself. So early the next morning, Louise and I hop on a safari jeep and drive off with the intention of meeting Jeremy Loops… Oh, and planting the trees.
Of course Loops never showed up. Nonetheless, we had an amazing time planting trees with about thirty other engaged members of society.
I somehow ended up in the kids group, with three very knowledgable kids. Together we mixed the compost and soil, planted the tree, put mulch around the tiny trunk, and watered the plant.
On the way back, the driver – a phenomenal safari guide – took us on a short, impromptu game drive, where we saw blessbuck, impala, and zebra. The media crew filmed the entire trip, so hopefully that video will be posted soon.
Sunday: the last day of the festival and our last day of travelling together, and we sure did start things of on a high note with the tree planting.
People were packing up and leaving. The festival was less cramped, but there were still plenty of people there. The last two acts of the day were the perfect ending to a perfect weekend.
After this, people moved into the House on Fire, where the after party was happening. We all huddled around the golden lounge bonfire until we got kicked out by the smallest and cutest security guard – the poor guy was not having an easy time telling all the big, drunk men to leave the area. We then took a wander in to the after party and right back out – the smell of weed in there was enough to knock you right off your feet.
Instead of joining the afterparty, we found another campfire in the food market, where we ate vegan pancakes with the police and chatted beside the heat of the fire. This is how our last evening went – hopping from fire to fire in an attempt to stay warm.
The next morning, we dropped Louise off at the bus – you all know what happened on that trip, and may I just say, Im glad I got to see a live springbok that day. After packing up the tent, we left the festival grounds and went for breakfast at Swazi Candles.
Here, we decided to take a trip to Kruger park for what turned out to be one of the best game drives I have ever been on. We spent the night in the middle of the park, where we had dinner next to a tooting owl.
We saw some incredible game over those two days. Everything from Hyenas on the side of the road, to eight of the animal I shall not name (in fear of giving away too much information to those cretins that call themselves humans), to wild dogs, to jackals, and so on, and so on.
Lastly, I want to send a huge, huge happy birthday to my grandmother! I am sending lots of hugs from Mozambique!