South Africa's dusty Glastonbury changing its complexion

Thu Aug 13, 2015 11:57am EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By TJ Strydom

OPPIKOPPI, South Africa (Reuters) - Once a year thousands of South Africans descend on a patch of bush in Limpopo for a festival as old as their democracy, throwing up a town of tents and a haze of smoke and dust as if in a rush for the platinum buried deep beneath their feet.

But no one is here for the minerals. These revelers come in search of a different kind of rock.

Oppikoppi, Afrikaans for "hilltop", is South Africa's take on California's Coachella or Britain's Glastonbury, with its roots firmly in Afrikaans rock and folk music.

As with many aspects of the self-styled "Rainbow Nation", much has changed in the two decades since apartheid, and the festival now attracts South Africans of every hue.

Though still predominantly Afrikaans, a broad array of South Africa's eleven languages are spoken in the crowds and sung from stages in scenes unthinkable to the rigidly conservative, race-based regime that yielded to Nelson Mandela in 1994.

Like Glastonbury, Oppikoppi revels in pushing the boundaries of taste and acceptability, with one popular act this year being a band called "Satanic Dagga Orgy", who sing in English - dagga being the South African term for marijuana.

"We have a much more diverse crowd these days," Oppikoppi organizer Carel Hoffmann, who once worked as an engineer at a nearby platinum mine, told Reuters. "Many of the things we are doing the old regime would never have allowed."

The music has also changed, with hiphop and its South African township version, known as kwaito, added to the staple of Afrikaans guitar and vocals.   Continued...

Revellers dance at the Oppikoppi music festival August 7, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer