Hugh Masekela at the 28th International Afriac Festival | © Günther Klebinger
Lucky Dube live at the 7th International Africa Festival | © Bugs Steffen
We would like to take the opportunity and remember those who have characterised the festival but who are no longer with us. Of course the first one to mention is the extraordinary man Nelson Mandela. In 1994 he was elected the first black president of South Africa and already one year later, at the 7th Africa Festival, we were able to show the interesting exhibition “Ezakwantu – bead work from Eastern Cape”. The presentation of the exhibition in Würzburg was the first cultural exchange between the new administration of Mandela and Europe. Nelson Mandela also sent a personal greeting to the festival. In 1996 the Foreign Office assigned the organisers of the Africa Festival to help with the musical programme of the state visit during Nelson Mandela’s first visit to the federal republic. Much to the president’s surprise, he was greeted with local sounds by Miriam Makeba at the park of the Brühl Palaces. We are glad to have met this man – without him the new South Africa wouldn’t have been possible! In 2018 he would have turned 100. Of course we must also name Miriam Makeba “Mama Africa”, the great icon of African music. You could become a part of her unforgettable concerts in the circus tent five times. She performed for the first time at the 8th Africa Festival and for the last time at the 18th Africa Festival when she gave her last official concert here in Würzburg to say farewell to the big concert stages. The previous day her granddaughter Zenzi Makeba Lee was performing for the first time with her grandmother in attendance and for the finale of Mazi’s concert Angeliqué Kidjo and Lokua Kanza paid homage to Makeba and showed her their respect. 10 years ago, on 10 November 2008 the great singer from South Africa passed away. We also want to remember Lucky Dube from South Africa. The great reggae star has been to Würzburg three times. His song “Different Colours - One People“ also became the omnipresent slogan of the festival. Unfortunately he was shot in Johannesburg in the middle of the street on 18 October 2017 at the age of only 41 under unresolved circumstances. Hugh Masekela, who was also from South Africa, captivated the hearts of the festival audience threetimes, in 2000, 2008 and 2016. He received the Africa Fesival “Lifetime Achievement Award 2016”. Two great young artists, who were also politically active, came from the neighbouring country Zimbabwe – they performed at the festival several times. Andy Brown a talented guitar player and his temporary life partner Chiwoniso Maraire who had perfected the art of playing the mbira. He died after a short illness immediately after having turned 50, she passed away tragically at the age of only 37. We also want to be reminiscent of the “King of Congolese rumba“, Papa Wemba from Congo! He performed in Würzburg four times, for the last time in 2011 at the 23rd Africa Festival. With his touching performances he managed to not only capture the hearts of his Congolese fans. With Lobi Traoré, who was known for his almost psychedelic guitar playing, the audience could experience a great Mali blues guitar player in 1996. In 2007, at the 19th Africa Festival, the visitors witnessed Andy Palacio the hero of the Garifuna music from Belize. Unfortunately, they both have also already left us but on our stages were proof of the variety the African music has to offer. We would like to thank everyone that we were able to participate in their music and wisdom, and will have their heritage and message live on at the Africa Festival.