Koité winds up Hifa in style

HARARE - Malian guitar wizard Habib Koité used the closing show of the Harare International Festival of Arts (Hifa) on Sunday night to demonstrate why he has been dubbed the “African Clapton”.

Koité, who was named Mali’s’ biggest pop star by Rolling Stone magazine, illuminated Hifa with his inventive guitar work effectively mitigating the fact that most in the fairly big audience did not have a clue of what he was singing about.

The Malian star’s enthralling voice beautifully floated on the wintry night in sync with the rhythmic beauty generated by his talented Bamada band.

One of the highlights of the night was when he performed the hit L.A. the audience suddenly sprang into action on the dance floor spurred on by the delightful energy of the song.

The crowd’s wild delight when the song L.A was performed, though, could not measure up to the joyous pandemonium that descended on the dancefloor when local music hero Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi joined Koité on stage.

The two African music heavyweights performed the song Malizim which they produced in 2011 in collaboration with another Malian musician Afel Bocoum.

During the closing concert, which featured several local dancers led by visiting British artiste Tim Casson, Koité collaborated on stage with rising Cameroonian songstress Kareyce Fotso and an all-female band from Music Crossroads Academy Zimbabwe.

The Music Crossroads girls did seem overawed by the occasion. They most certainly milked the moment which without doubt will forever be etched on their minds.

The “Habib Koité and Friends” gig was the standout gig on the last day of Hifa that also featured a scintillating performance by American acapella musical group, Street Corner Symphony.

The five-member group from Nashville, Tennessee, who performed on the ZOL main stage at 5:30pm, won the hearts of crowd by performing their renditions of hits by groups such as Boyz II Men.

Earlier on the same stage, young local songstress Sha Sha delivered an uninspiring performance which left many wondering how she managed to get the plum 1pm gig which is usually watched by families. Shasha, who is blessed with a soothing voice and an impressive vocal range, failed to connect with the crowd. Many in the crowd felt that she had been thrown in at the deep end.

The just-ended six-day Hifa, which generally attracted smaller crowds compared to previous editions, will also be remembered for great performances from Mahube, Italian songstress Amanda E La Banda who featured Blessing “Bled”Chimanga and Mangoma on her set, the lively Bryan K and local reggae group Transit Crew.

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