Image: Bram Lammers
This time last week Friday (May 25), I was excitedly anticipating my first experience of Swaziland’s MTN Bushfire Festival, dubbed one of the ‘seven African music festivals you really have to see‘ by CNN, and I agree.
The MTN Bushfire music festival is an annual three-day international experience of culture, music and food, with thousands of people from around the world descending to the Swati Kingdom to experience the exciting pan-African collaborations.
I went to the festival with my partner and two friends from university. Our journey began with a 06:00 (CAT) call time to meet our shuttle that would be our transport for the weekend. The trip smooth and drama free – thankfully filled with fellow excited festival attendees. Throughout the five-hour trip, we saw endless rolling green hills and jammed to some hip-hop and house music.
Bumper to bumper traffic at the Oshoek and Ngwenya border posts did not deter my excitement. Finally at 17:00 (CAT) we arrived in the Malkerns Valley in Swaziland. Once we offloaded the mini bus shuttle, got our campsite bands and festival tickets, we trekked to the campsite to settle in and get ready for the evening’s festivities.
We kicked off our first night with a performance by Swaziland artist Velemseni on the Main Stage and spent the rest of the evening partying to DJs at the firefly stage, with banging and non-stop jams from sets by DJ Mbally, DJ Mavava and Costa Titch.
The single digit temperatures did not stop us from screaming our lungs out and dancing until the next morning.
Since the performances start later in the day from 16:30 (CAT), we decided to take the day easy. We walked the festival grounds, attempted to take a nap, but the sweltering afternoon heat would not allow us be great. Anyway once the festival performances began, we got ready for our last night grooving to Africa’s best talents on stage. Some of South Africa’s biggest stars took to the stage and we enjoyed South African singer Samthing Soweto, Nonku Phiri, Sho Madjozi and award-winning Hip Hop Star Kwesta also kept us on our feet
From music to food, it’s no wonder this festival is rated as one of the best on the continent. The festival truly has something for everyone.
For me the party of all parties was at the Firefly stage, when Mobi Dixon snatched the whole audience house music souls. For a first-timer like myself, the experience was spectacular and really worth the whole drive.
In its 12th edition, Bushfire is not only a great musical experience but also has a food market and a crafts fair to support local businesses, which is a huge boost to the Swaziland economy. The festival has opened the prospect of destination festival tourism up to a younger generation susceptible to wanderlust.
Sure, for most us it’s not possible to see all of the festivals in a year. But the prospect of seeing a different one each year is appealing — and far more realistic.
In terms of style, the new Pandora new season of self discovery collection is a great way to make a subtle statement to your outfits during the festival.
The a free-spirited feeling in the Bushfire air will be brought alive with colours and bohemian textures of their new hand-finished jewellery that sways with your dances moves.
You don’t have to overdress, as the pieces strike just the right balance between casual, fun, and a little edgy.
My favourite pieces are the leather bracelets, which will become a summer staple that you can pull off whatever your style is. The double-wrap bracelet pop with sterling silver fastenings and can be customised with other charms that are easy to add.
My go to piece is the dreamcatcher charm feather statement earrings, sparkling with stones in one of the season’s coolest colours, turquoise.