It was a Friday night that was sold out weeks before the doors to the Zahara concert opened at Government Complex. The tradition of selling tickets at the door is slowly fading away and Zambians are beginning to appreciate the essence of getting tickets well in advance. After all this was a show for the cream of South African music Zahara. Zahara in Zambia is popularly known for the house hit she featured on ‘Lengoma’ by DJ Sbu and the mellower ‘Loliwe’. This is a show that would have been perfect except for a tiny, little inconvenience called ZESCO.
This was another organisation by the now well known The Straight UP Company, having brought comedian Trevor Noah last year can now proudly boast of adding Zahara to their resume. The ticket prices of K160 ordinary and K250 VIP were slightly higher than the average in Zambia, but then a little sacrifice could be made for good music. Oh no I am not talking about bedroom studio junk here. Music that is sang with real instruments if you know what I mean.
Even though the tickets stated that the show would begin at 19 hours but as is the custom in Zambia rarely do shows begin on time and this one was no exception. So I had to pass time on Facebook and Twitter. It took almost another hour before any form of musical activity could be seen on stage when acapella group Chord 14 took to the stage, they were then followed by a rap act, and unfortunately I have no idea who they are, sorry. Other acts to follow were poet Magnifire and afrosoul upcoming singer Wezi. Scarlet who was one of the two main opening acts came on stage accompanied by a dance troop. She sang her usual ‘Munisungile Banja’ and “My Kinda Cute’. She did do two other songs but I have a short memory and cannot remember them. If I am to be honest Scarlet’s voice was drowned by the band and it was hardly an inspiring set. I think she is best suited for more intimate settings with smaller crowds. On the other hand Pompi whose album has been a massive hit was the final musical appetiser. You know that you are doing something right when the audience knows every word of the songs you sing. His band was great, the stage presence too and of course it was so befitting of an opening act that when he left the audience chanted his name.
Gesh who was the host then introduced the lady of night Zahara. She soulfully sang her way onto the stage and immediately got into her stride belting out a song that apparently was not on her current album. She began to deliver her more well-known tunes from her album and her performances were just awe inspiring. Especially when she sang the song ‘Umthwalo’, I felt like getting on my knees, raising my arms in the air and speaking in tongues. Then in the process of singing the first song she learned to play on the guitar, BOOM! LIGHTS OUT! ZESCO just had to gate crash the party and loadshed the complex. I felt like sinking in my seat. It was an embarrassing moment that I wish never happened, and the generator too took ages to kick in. Welcome to Zambia Zahara. Poor Zahara had to resort to greeting some VIP guests just to pass time. After a five minute wait the show continued.
|Zahara at Government Complex|
|Government Complex Loadshedded|
The audience sang along to every Zahara track, people were singing along to the Xhosa tunes as if they were singing along to a Nyanja track. Special mention must be made to Zahara’s backup singers who not only had the voices to match but their dances where both smooth and entertaining that they were like a side show on their own. ZESCO reeled its ugly hand one more time and the hall went black once again. Groans and murmurs of frustration filled the hall. Zahara too appeared unimpressed this whole game ZESCO was playing was clearly messing with her vibe. Luckily this time the blackout lasted for about three minutes.
Zahara sealed off the night with Loliwe. She proved she had the voice to affirm all the awards she has garnered and her stage presence over flowed from the stage. I spotted a few Zambian musicians in the audience and I hope they were taking notes. It was a show worth every ngwee, despite the unwelcome invitation of the loadshedding that took place. As for ZESCO stop those bad manners when people are having fun, sha!