|ARTISTS RE-OPEN BOOK CAFÉ|
|News - The Book Cafe|
|Wednesday, 04 April 2012 23:53|
ARTISTS RE-OPEN BOOK CAFÉ
139 Samora Machel Avenue, Harare
16 & 17 March 2012
The Grand (Re)Opening of Book Café at 139 Samora Machel Avenue in Zimbabwe’s capital on Fri 16 and Sat 17 March 2012 was HOT! COOL! GOOD! WICKED! SWEET! Two 5-hour concerts celebrated a star lineup of some of Harare’s best-loved music acts over the weekend.
Bursting onto the new wide stage were mbira legends Nyamasvisva neMawungira Enharira, reggae giants Transit Crew, upcoming superstar Alexio & Shades of Black and Zimbabwean guitarist Josh Meck & Mawonero with a few choice verses from the poet Mystic. Completing the Friday line-up was Zimbabwe’s evergreen champion for peace, Victor Kunonga.
The Saturday line-up went ballistic with the mighty Jazz Invitation featuring bassist Kelly Rusike, and Bernie Bismark with jazz vocalist Patience Musa, charismatic showman Ba Shupi & The A Team with Dizzy Don, original conscious reggae from Matthias Julius & X-Vybes, wild punk-mbira rockers Chikwata.263, and Zimbabwe’s dancehall reggae firebrand Mic Inity offered a super-charged show in honour of the occasion. The legendary poet Albert Nyathi graced the stage and delivered an impromptu performance.
A dark cloud on opening night was news of the passing of African super-rocker Andy Brown, who passed away after a short illness. Over the last year, Andy had been a much in evidence at Book Cafe and Mannenberg, with exciting collaborations with other artists (Chiwoniso Maraire, Dudu Manhenga, Chikwata.263, and more). Out of respect, the internationally renowned ‘Rebel Woman’, queen of Mbira-blues Chiwoniso Maraire did not perform as scheduled, and a minute of silence was observed in honour of Andy.
Within Book Cafe, the weekend was aptly called “The Artists’ Opening” as the opening celebrations were ‘sponsored’ by the artists themselves – each one giving freely of their time and talents to help raise funds to meet the enormous costs of re-building the popular venue which has supported them through the years. At a meeting after the close of Book Café in December 2011, Victor Kunonga was first in line to offer a free performance for the fund-raising effort, closely followed by Chiwoniso and many others. The ‘Artists Opening’ was their very real contribution to re-establishing their performance space.
An Award for All
Book Café’s first (private) event on Thursday 8 March, celebrated the Prince Claus Award to the Book Café, for “… upholding Freedom of Expression in a difficult context”. Graced by speakers Prince Claus director Christa Meindersma, National Arts Council director Elvas Mari, writer Virginia Phiri, the Right Honourable Prime Minister of Zimbabwe Morgan Tsvangirai, and Netherlands Ambassador Barbara Joziasse, the event featured a scintillating lineup of artists, backed by three support groups – Jazz Invitation, Chabvondoka and Transit Crew, and the hilarious theatre-comedy piece ‘Zambezi News’ featuring Cde Fatso and Michael Kudakwashe.
The event coincided with International Women’s Day, and the following artists gave freely of their musical gifts and poetry to celebrate the dual occasion – Dudu Manhenga, Hope Masike, Roxanne ‘Xapa’ Mathazia, Batsirai Chigama, Edith Katiji, Patience Musa, Prudence Katomeni-Mbofana, Chiwoniso Maraire and Aura Kawanzaruwa; Victor Kunonga, Sam Mataure, Blessing Muparutsa, Pablo Nakkapa, Jimmy Buzuzi, Filbert Marova, Alexio Kawara, Ba Shupi, Dizzy Don, Biko Mutsaurwa, Cynic, Hector Mugani, Tomas Brickhill, Michael ‘Micinity’ Madamombe and Mannex Motsi.
The Prince Claus Award to the Book Café is shared with these and all other artists.
BOOK CAFÉ THANKS ALL ARTISTS for such a selfless contribution, and commits to upgrading the performing arts venue in all areas. In a letter of thanks to the artists, Book Café said: “We are humbled by your response to our new developments, based on our work over the years. There are no words to properly describe how grateful we are for giving yourself so freely to the Book Café award and re-opening shows. We are here for you, and will continue to develop the best possible platform for your work, and a new home for the artistic community in Harare. Thank you for working with us. ”