Let’s Go, Azgo Music Festival 2017 in Maputo, Mozambique

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Spent the weekend in Maputo, Mozambique where I was attending and covering  Azgo Music Festival. This was a delightful road trip from Johannesburg to Maputo with some of the crew and band members performing at the festival. Is there anything cooler than hanging out with the bands. Suddenly “I am with the band” was not just a pop culture catchphrase, it was my reality. The few times I have traveled with music bands and crew I have enjoyed the experience. It has really opened my eyes and I got to see some of the hard work and demands the performers go through. Not that there was any doubt prior that it this business did not require sweat, tears, drama, temper, strained muscles, vocal chords and callus. I get to see where the money a concert ticket buyer goes to.  I have always said one of my dreams is to go on tour with a band or performer as their official photographer.  I have been to Mozambique a few times, and every time I visit, my perception of the country changes. I need to spend two weeks there and fully immerse myself in the streets and soak up the culture. We did the usual, a drink and a bite here and there, a walk about the city, a trip to the market and fabric shopping. Rounding it all off at Azgo music festival.

You might like these travel reviews on Mozambique from my past travels to the country.

This year, Azgo music festival’s theme was Gender Equality half of the line-up was female-led and fifty percent of the festival’s staff was also female. Considering this year’s theme it was very disappointing that during Freshlyground’s performance a man – who clearly was drunk; actually scratch that. Stating that he was drunk make it seem like I am making excuses for him – who is ill-mannered and abusive. Screamed “take your panties off” at Freshlyground’s female lead singer Zolani Mahola. I was in the photographer’s pit when this all unraveled, right in front of this idiot. At the corner of my, I could see Zolani’s reaction on stage at my adjacent view.  I am glad that Zolani was not having it and reprimanded this fool publicly. She stated that this man’s behaviour made her very upset more so considering what is happening in South Africa. She even referenced the popular social hashtag movement #MenAreTrash that deals with such men who deem it appropriate to verbally abuse women in public space or abuse female bodies. Period the end. Who the fuck goes to a concert and screams “take off your panties. Who screams an unsolicited “take your panties off” to anyone in a social setting like this. You cannot even scream such shit even at a strip club. The bouncers would have your abusive ass hauled out the club before you can even say “panties”.  Crass.


The South African artists who performed this year were, Freshlyground, Batuk, Nonku Phiri and Bhekisenzo Cele, aka Vukazithathe and Bra Ray Phiri. The line up was a treat, I got to see Nonku Phiri and her dad Ray Phiri in one night. I mean does it get any better?I think not. From nostalgic legendary get-down beats and moves of Ray Phiri to new age high-tech and robust vocal fusion of Nonku Phiri to welcome the sunrise. Homebrewed Mozambican acts on the lineup were, The Mute Band, Ghorwane, Azagaia, Xixel Langa, Ras Haitrm & Word Sound Power as well as Lay Lizzy & e Os Primos. The Brazilian singer, songwriter and guitarist Maria Gadú was one of the headline acts. I had never heard of her prior to the festival and her performance completely snatched by wig! I am a fan, I did not know hear a single word she sang or said but, musically I heard and comprehend everything. Sheer bliss.

If you planning on attending the festival next year you might want to read this post whereby I share some travel tips about embarking on road tripping to Mozambique and this one to give you some tips on what to do whilst in Maputo. Unlike most festival, this is not a camping festival it is a one-day festival. This year the festival started at 2pm and ended at 5am which I believe is a bit of a stretch especially in winter for a day event. On our way out the festival at around 5:30 we bumped into the festival director and founder Paulo Chibanga, who is also the drummer for the band 340ml. I then asked him why doesn’t he offer camping as an accommodation option for festival-goers. He said the festival is still young but he will give what I said a thought perhaps they will offer camping four years from now. My thing is if this is a camping festival it takes out the logistics of transportation and accommodation for people traveling far and out to attend the festival. Let us be honest it is tough to stick around to stick it out jamming from beginning to end watching acts in winter. I was with Maria McCloy, who was doing the festival’s PR and we stayed right up until the end. We were both working and I personally wanted to see the fabulous Nonku Phiri unleash those beats. Not only that but Jojo Abot was on my must-see list and I had to scratch that out my list as completed. I had traveled all the way, therefore, saw no point in not to seeing all acts I earmarked.

If you looking for a music festival feast you can check the following music festivals happening soon. 

  • Africa Day concert
  • MTN Bushfire
  • Sakifo Music Festival
  • Zakifo Music Festival

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