Assuming you only stop for fuel, Durban is about a six-hour drive from Johannesburg. We got an early start on Monday morning, as we set off for Zakifo Festival. As a festival first-timer, I was a little underwhelmed by the size of the festival grounds and facilities. The stages were set up next to each other and acts ran back to back without the vacuous “are you ready?” and “thanks to our sponsors” emcee refrains you often have to tolerate at festivals. But when I missed Jojo Abot, whose set was feloniously swapped with Sax Machine’s, I missed having someone announce programme changes.
The bar staff worked deftly and quickly, the food was fresh at most of the stalls and the staff was friendly. The usual festival fare of arts and crafts were on sale at various stalls on the edges of the festival grounds. There was one stall which neither sold anything nor seemed to be serving any other purpose than shining an incandescent blue light in a bright red tent.
Zakifo felt small in a quaint kind of way. Should it grow, there are sure to be festival trophy collectors who will brag about attending the festival before it became “mainstream”. But this year, there was a sense of unease about this international music festival, supported by the Ethekwini municipality, not “capturing” the city. In fact, there was a stage comparable in size to Zakifo’s rig set up just down the road.
After picking up our prize of a R500 parking ticket from the generous Durban traffic department, we played the Damian Marley song Affairs of the Heart, already relishing the nostalgia of three days in balmy Durban:
When the tour bus drop off
And all light lock off and I’m a mere mortal again
Promoter belly full and all the fans gone home
I’m glad that you’re more than a friend
Woman your love is life changing
And I couldn’t be the same without you darling
Your love is life saving
You always catch me when I fall.