Hello blog readers! Thank you for your patience while I’ve been gone. Life got away from me, and I began to find it harder to articulate my experiences.
I knew I wanted to go to Bushfire, a music festival full of regional artists in Swaziland, since March of last year. I was so excited to have that dream come true this year! My fellow PCVs and I had a ton of fun listening to music, camping, and indulging in yummy food. There were four stages: the Barn for acoustic music, Firefly for EDM, the Main stage for big name artists, and the Anphitheatre for everyone else. Plus, the area of Swaziland we were in was stunningly beautiful; we were surrounded by mountains and sunflowers.
I saw some of my favorite South African artists- Kwesta, Sho Madjozi, Samthing Soweto, and Ladysmith Black Mambazo- and also discovered a ton of new artists, such as Rouge, Bholoja, Dub Inc., and Crimson House. My favorite performance by far was Sho Madjozi, who raps in Shangaan and incorporated traditional dancewear and moves into her high-powered set. Kwesta was also fantastic, and I was thrilled to sing along to “Ngud'” and “Spirit” along with the crowd.
I also met two Swaziland PCVs whose blogs I’ve been following since before I left for Peace Corps- Kirby of What is Kirby Doing? & @beardsofpeacecorps and Alison of Travelin’ the Globe, plus Netta who runs @peacefulcurlsofpeacecorps. Alison even invited me to visit her site Friday morning! Her house looked just like any South African site, which surprised me a little. I got to meet some of her famous chickens, and she graciously baked me a delicious chocolate babka loaf. Also a big thank you to her for providing fantastic directions to and from Swaziland and her site, without which I would have been totally lost! Unfortunately, I forgot to take any photos, but I promise we did meet up.
Playlist from Bushfire
- “Dololo” by Rouge
- “Huku” by Sho Madjozi
- “Ngud’” by Kwesta
- “Akanamali” by Sun-El Musician feat. Samthing Soweto
- “Ikhonkhotsa Ilele” by Bholoja
As an extra special treat for me being gone so long, my fellow PCV Lexi has graciously let me repost her fantastic guide to gqom!
Gqom Guide by Lexi Delahaut
You know that over-produced, menacing, bass-laden house music that you hear blaring in the distance at your neighborhood Shabeen Dream [bar]? Those pulsating, polyrhythmic songs that the taxi baba blasts after he’s retired the gospel, perfectly timed as the Joburg skyline becomes visible in the distance? That’s Gqom, said with the tongue swiftly cupping the roof of the mouth to create that all-satisfying ‘q’ click that peppers isiZulu and isiXhosa, alike. Gqom, meaning, “to hit the drum” in isiZulu, originates from the Durban townships, and is quickly consuming the South African house music scene with its innovative, dynamic sounds. Gqom amalgamates many different music styles, from hip-hop, to kwaito, to house, and massively draws on traditional Zulu culture, with interspersed whistles and ululation heard throughout. Dark, mesmerizing, and body-shaking Gqom is here to stay, and is slowly creeping its way into mainstream popular culture, most recently seen featured on the Black Panther soundtrack.
How Does One Dance to Gqom?
When a Gqom song tells you to Vosho (which it will do frequently), you must drop your bums to the floor and quickly bounce back up. My only form of exercise for the past two years, besides the occasional lethargic run (sorry PCMO [doctor]), has been the excruciating, thigh-burning, Vosho. Throw in some nay-nays, a dab (or three), and the gwara-gwara [Xitsonga dance] and you’ll be golden. While fancy footwork certainly helps, Gqom’s fast–paced beat doesn’t actually require as much movement as it suggests. An embellished dance-walk will do, as well. Anyone can get down to Gqom. Ungesabi! Don’t be scared!
Can’t Get Into It?
I’ve heard again and again that Gqom “all sounds the same.” Wena [you], if you give Gqom the time, instead of a shallow, distanced listen, you’ll find that you can easily train your ears to distinguish the nuances and distinctions between each track. Soon, you’ll recognize the difference between those hollow, almost apocalyptic breakdowns and sporadic, industrial peaks. I don’t need to convince you to like Gqom, though. It will make your legs move, your heart rate quicken, and your booty drop whether you like it, or not.
As the Distruction Boyz so un- apologetically put it: Gqom is the Future. And it’s sure to be the soundtrack to your service. So Wena, Faka iGqom! Put on the Gqom.
- “Bazozenya” by Busiswa
- “Malume” by DJ Tira
- “iScathulo” by Tipcee
- “Umzabhabha” by Babes Wodumo
- “Dumi Hi Phone” by Sho Madjozi
- “Omunye” by Distruction Boyz
- “Shut Up & Groove” by Distruction Boyz
- “Gqi” by Okmalumkoolkat
- “Uyibambe” by Distruction Boyz
- “Jiva Phez’kombhede” by Babes Wodumo