Tuesday , March 21 2023

South Africa hosts the largest Marimba and Stelpan festival in the world


South Africa hosts the world's largest marimba and steppe festival on July 27 and 28, with nearly 2000 musicians from all over Africa, including Botswana, Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

The festival – now in its eighth year – mixes traditional African, classical and even rap music.

"As Africans, we encourage our students to dance and sing and play at the same time, because that's when you get the full benefit of music," said Joan Lithgow of the Marimba and Stelpan International Festival of Education Africa.

Students participate in the Marimba and Steelpan International Festival in Africa in Africa, July 27-28, 2019 (Marize de Klerk / VOA)

The festival prides itself on including disadvantaged musicians and people with disabilities who compete with other musicians.

"I feel very good because people can see that deaf people can do anything," said Marimba player Boitumelo Lekaka through sign language. Rose Molloy, her teacher at the Dominican School for the Deaf in South Africa in Hammankral, translated.

"Just like listening to people around the world, [we] can do anything. Everything. Playing marimba, all different tools, types of tools. They can do the same thing as the people listening, and everyone else, "Lekaka said.

The five-time Grammy nominee and American vibrator artist Jason Maletman Taylor helped judge the competition.

"And that was my first time judging a band that was deaf! I'm like, how do you play those notes and you can't hear the notes? And I know it was a gift from above. So if you can't hear it , they probably feel it. And I think it's amazing! "- said Taylor.

Musicians participate in the Marimba and Steelpan International Festival in Africa in Africa, July 27-28, 2019 (Marize de Klerk / VOA)

St. Jude Private Schools in Nigeria is one of the past trophy festival winners for the best performance of the steppe. Steelpan ensemble leader Femi Obadina says the standard of competition is extremely high.

"This one is actually more competitive because you have, you know, different schools from different countries," Obadina said.

The competition is held together with 90 music workshops. Award-winning composer and steelpan player Dave Reynolds feels a marimba, and steppin 'music is like therapy.

"It's very emotionally engaging," he said. "There is a small amount of technical and musical knowledge they use, but a lot of it just comes from the heart."

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