A journal of the South African Traditional Music Awards (SATMA)

Its been a bit more than a month, but this is the first time that I have been able to sit down and formally document my last trip to South Africa. I was blessed to be invited to witness the 10th Annual South African Traditional Music Achievement Awards (SATMA). And in all of my sojourns to the beautiful nation of South Africa, this remains one of the most powerful and cultural experiences that I have had.

I departed Los Angeles aboard the beautiful and elegant Emirates Airlines on a 15 hour marathon flight to Dubai. The Airbus A360 is a huge aircraft that is quite modern classy and even in economy has all of the tech gadgets. The entertainment alone features 200 channels of music, movies, games and the best maps of your flight experience. We flew northeast out of Southern California exiting the North American continent over Northern Canada. The flight took us over Nova Scotia, the tip of Iceland, Sweden, Russia, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and into Dubai. I was so surprised as I perused the in-flight map, because a lot of the cities we flew near were cities, in America were associated with the war on terror. wow…

Some would say, whew 15 hours is a long flight. It is. But with the state of the art entertainment system I was able to pass the time away by viewing selections form the movie menu, and the music menu. I started my entertainment delights with Ant-Man….. *sigh*  So after struggling though some half of that film, I changed over to the radio channel which featured several choices of African Music. After all, I was travelling to the Continent. Let me just say that Fela Kuti is one of the most awesome artists in the entire world. Then I saw a section entitled Box Sets. This is where I found Marvin Gaye. And Stevie Wonder. You know I was in heaven. When I selected Stevie, I listened to Music of my Mind, Talking Book, Innervisions, Fulfillingness First Finale, Songs in the Key of Life, Hotter than July, and A Time to love…. each in its entirety, back to back, chronologically. This made my flight complete Nirvana…

As I descended into United Arab Emirates airspace, I would see the miles and miles of desert. I could see the magnificent lights of Dubai, A glittering oasis in a sea of desert sand. I would disembark my plane and sit out a 12-hour layover….. As I spent the night in Terminal 1 of the Dubai International Airport, I contemplated my new experience. As big as this place is, I felt a bit confined. I did not receive a hotel voucher but rather had to wander about the terminal for half the night before settling in for a bit of sleep in a chair alongside hundreds of like travellers. This airport is huge! and it’s a major shopping destination.. The Dubai Duty Free is one of the largest shopping malls in the world and it makes the airport terminal look like a shopping mall. It’s a mall with airport gates!

 

The airport at Dubai is a monstrous location as Dubai is a major hub for all international destination of the east. And as I look around there are all kinds of people from the Afro-Asiatic diaspora. This is the United Arab Emirates so most of the people coming through here are Arab/Muslim. I can’t help but reflect how Malcolm X felt when he went on his pilgrimage to Mecca. I’ve seen Muslims of all races.. Arab, black, black African, what looks to be white, Asian, southeast Asian.. all kinds of people. I’m also struck by the strong African presence in the airport. It is a powerful reminder that there are 52 countries on the continent of Africa and all of those nations are seemingly travelling through his airport.

I see the Muslim women dressed in the traditional head to toe garb. It’s funny because a lot of these women’s husbands are dressed in shorts, sandals and polo shirts. This is a hodge podge of eastern society. And yes, this is a Muslim nation so I’ve heard the prayer calls. And I’ve noticed that just as there are directions to the restrooms, first aid, lost and found, etc., there are signs directing one to the prayer room. Yes. This is Dubai, gateway to the middle east. And now as I sit waiting for the flight to Durban, I grow anxious to see and hear the sights that await me in South Africa.

It is an 81/2 hour flight from Dubai to Durban. The flight departs the United Arab Emirates heading south along the eastern coast of Africa. We fly over Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Mozambique, landing in Durban, a South African coastal city that is the center of the KwaZuluNatal Province – The Kingdom of the Zulus. It was raining and dark when we arrived at the King Shaka International Airport. After passing through customs I was met by my driver Godfrey, whose African name I learned was Njinji. He took me to the Coastlands Hotel where we had dinner from a diverse buffet menu consisting of chicken, mutton, lamb, fish and steak. The next morning was drizzly but I awoke to a great view of the Durban area. After breakfast, our coordinator Sduzo took us to a mall that adjoined the hotel. Contrary to most American perceptions, South Africa’s cities are cosmopolitan or Afropolitan as they call it. In my immediate area, we have KFC – yes. A Harley Davidson dealership and the Gatewood Mall. This mall features all the top designer stores and it makes you pinch yourself because the only indicator that we are still in Africa is the amount of black people and the languages spoken. The mall was very nice, we walked around a bit before meeting our police detail who would escort us throughout the rest of the trip. After all we were part of a delegation that featured Dr. Sarah Obama, the grandmother of President Obama.

We piled into the official vehicles and with sirens and lights blazing, we rolled onto the freeway headed to the center of Zululand. It was a two and a half hour drive to our destination which was in the town of Richards Bay, home of one of the worlds largest harbors.

Once we hit town, the police escorted us to the beach. It was a hot day and understandably the beach was crowded and full of warning signs about sharks.  Our lodging was located about one mile from the waves in a charming
bed and breakfast that had 12 cabins and an honesty bar. Yes, one goes to the bar and gets his own beer or wine, writes it in a book and settles up upon check out. Amazing!

We were taken to North Coast Radio – a community based station which broadcasts in Zulu and boasts a very active and responsive listener audience of about 150,000 in the immediate area. I say active because there were a few listeners standing outside when we emerged from the studio waiting to get a glimpse of these African Americans. We walked the adjoining shopping center to get a bite of lunch from Nando’s, a restaurant chain that features chicken much like our own El Pollo Loco. From there we rushed to the University of Zululand which was the site for the SATMA Awards weekend.

I must admit that I was not ready for what we witnessed as we hit the red carpet for the opening night pre-show. We were greeted by thousands of screaming fans who chanted, screamed and even rushed our policed secured vehicles. It was impressive to see the love that the Zulus have for the Obamas – and us. It was overwhelming to hear and see that they were ecstatic that we were there.

After the pre-show, we returned to the lodge and spent the warm late night at the poolside patio area. The place was humming with quiet activity as there was a party in the small events area next to the honesty bar. There were 18 of us from Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Swaziland, South Africa and South LA/Inglewood… The United Nations of Africa. It was a truly awesome experience kicking it with the diaspora. Good times, Good conversation, Good people.At the pre-show, we were escorted to the fist row of the venue. The show was a mix of award presentations that would not make the national television broadcast and a comedy show. This was a first in my life.. I sat in a two and a half hour comedy show by some of South Africa’s top comedians…. and didn’t understand a WORD of what was happening. Meanwhile the 10,000 in attendance were rolling in the aisles with laughter…. The consolation for me as a lover of music, was that I was aware and familiar of some of the artists nominated. One category struck me and has elicited an opinion. In the Best Afro Soul category the nominees were Unathi, Choko, Simphiwe Dana and Moneoa. Coko won. I have all of these CDs and while each one has its own exceptional merit, I do not feel Choko should have won. That’s not a diss. It’s an opinion.

The next day, we headed back to the venue for a day of activities and the main event. The nationally televised SATMA Awards. First, we event was ignited by a very traditional parade. The highlight of the experience , this parade featured a marching band and one thousand girls dancing and chanting in traditional Zulu garb. most were topless. yes. That’s how they get down. The sound was ROCKIN and the energy was unlike anything I have ever witnessed in life. The direct connections to what we do here in America in terms of the HBCU bands and the dances were evident. It was an exceptional experience.

The Awards show was quite a spectacle. The opening number was a representation of every culture in South Africa. All the different tribes, the white folks and the Indian folks.. It was amazing! Everyone was dressed in traditional attire. There were high ranking government officials, local officials and provincial officials. It was a tremendous gathering. And I have got to share how the huge choir in the opening number broke out in the Nay Nay during thier very traditional presentation.

I’ve been able to journal the experience and post it on this blog. If you would like to see the complete photo album, It’s here on facebook.

All in all and while I have traveled to South Africa several times, This was hands down one of the best and deeply cultural experiences. It was not a touristy experience. It was deeply cultural It was awesome. It was another level.

South Africa Jazz Tour 2016….

https://www.facebook.com/events/1457895444512534/

This is the trip of your lifetime!!! Join us as We journey to South Africa for a tour of music, arts and culture… South Africa is cosmopolitan… South Africa is modern… South Africa is Afropolitan…. join us!!!! Plus we are going to the renowned @CapetownInternationalJazzFestival….. Please keep visiting this page for information, schedule of our regularly scheduled information sessions, news, music and all things South African pop culture…. You have got to go on this trip!!!!20150323_134909

contact me at afropoptoursandtravel@gmail.com
or call our travel administrator at Protea Travel Services 126 S Federal Hwy # 210, Dania Beach, FL 33004
(954) 927-5558

or our trip curator, Luke Angel at African Angel Tours… luke@africanangeltours.com 

South Africa International Jazz Tour

INCLUSIVE:

• Meet & Greet and Transfers from/to the Johannesburg Airport
• Welcome Dinner at Nelson Mandela Square
• 2 x Night Accommodation at the Da Vinci Hotel
• Professional Guided tour of Soweto (inclusive of entry fee to the Apartheid and Hector Pieterson Museums- Lunch at Wandies)
• Road Transfer to Bakubung Safari Lodge in an air conditioned vehicle
• 2 x Night Accommodation at the Bakubung Safari Lodge
• 2 x Day Professional Guided Game Safaris
• Meet & Greet and Transfers from/to the Cape Town Airport
• 4 x Night Accommodation at the Commodore
• Professional Guided Cape town City Tour (includes entry fee to the District Six Museum, Slave Lodge and Bo-Kaap Museum)
• Table Mountain Cable Car Pass
• Robben Island Ferry and Tour
• Profession

DAILY BREAKDOWN:

Day 1 – Depart for South Africa – 25th March 2016

• Depart from USA to Johannesburg (via JFK New York)

Day 2 – Flight connection to Johannesburg – 26th March 2016
• Arrive in New York and connect to your flight to Johannesburg

Day 3 – Arrive in Johannesburg and welcome dinner – 27th March 2016
• Arrive in Johannesburg

• Meet & Greet and Transfer to Hotel

• Welcome Dinner

• Overnight at the Da Vinci Hotel

Day 4 – Apartheid Museum and Soweto Tour – 28th March 2016
• Soweto and Apartheid Museum Tour
• Overnight at the Da Vinci

Day 5 – Road transfer to Bakubung Safari Lodge – 29th March 2016
• Depart for Pilanesburg National Park
• Welcome 4×4 Game Drive
• Overnight at the Bakubung Safari Lodge

Day 6 – Full Day 4×4 Game Drive – 30th March 2016
• Full day 4×4 Game Drive
• Overnight at the Bakubung Safari Lodge

Day 7 – Transfer to Johannesburg Airport for the flight to Cape Town – 31st March 2016
• Transfer to Johannesburg Airport for the flight to Cape Town
• Meet & Greet and Transfer to the Hotel
• Jazz Safari and welcome Dinner in the local community
• Overnight at the Commodore

20150328_155457Day 8 – Cape Town City Tour and evening at the Cape Town Jazz Festival – 1st April 2016
• Cape Town City Tour and Table Mountain
• Cape Town Jazz Festival
• Overnight at the Commodore

Day 9 – Cape Town Winelands tour and Cape Town Jazz Festival – 2nd April 2016
• Winelands Tour
• Cape Town Jazz Festival
• Overnight at the Commodore

Day 10 – Cape Peninsula Tour – 3rd April 2016
• Cape Peninsula Tour
• Overnight at the Commodore

Day 11 – Last minute shopping and transfer to airport and flight back home – 4th April 2016
• Transfer To CT Airport for flight to US

Day 12 – Arrive in the USA – 5th April 2016
• Arrive in the US

Optional Victoria Falls Add On

Day 11 – Transfer to Cape Town International and flight to Victoria Falls – 4th April 2016
• View the Victoria Falls
• Accommodation at Zambezi Sun

Day 12 – Victoria Falls Day activities – 5th April 2016
• Optional Day Activities
• Accommodation at Zambezi Sun

Day 13 – Victoria Falls – 6th April 2016
• Optional Day Activities
• Accommodation at Zambezi Sun

Day 14 – Transfer to Livingstone International to fly back to USA via JNB – 7th April 2016
• Transfer to Livingstone International for flight back to Johannesburg
• Connect international flight back to the USA

Day 15 – Arrive in the USA – 8th April 2016
• Arrive in the US

TERMS AND CONDITIONS:

This is only a quote and no components of the package have been booked

* PRICES and AVAILABILITY are subject to confirmation at time of booking.
* Quote is valid for 14 days only from above shown date.
* Prices quoted are on a per person sharing basis
* Prices quoted are only valid for the number of people quoted for – any increase or decrease in numbers will affect the price.
* All items of a personal nature, meals and drinks (unless stipulated), flights, airport taxes, fuel (unless stipulated), sightseeing entrance fees, caddies, carts, golf accessories and all other unstipulated items are excluded.
* No booking can be guaranteed unless a 20% non-refundable deposit has been received
* Only once the deposit has been received will a booking be confirmed
* As availability is always checked before quoting, we can in no way be held responsible when it is no longer available due to the time taken to confirm the quote
*Payments to be made in South African Rands subject to the Rand-Dollar exchange rate

South Africa Jazz Tour 2015

https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=612870875492074

This is the trip of your lifetime!! South Africa…. Cosmopolitan, exciting, exotic and with this tour it is musical… We will visit Johannesburg,  Soweto… Safari in Pilanesberg National Park… Plus we’ll hit Capetown for Africa’s Grandest Gathering…. The Capetown Jazz International Jazz Festival…. There are still some seats left!!! Get on the trip now!!!!

 

Capetown Jazz Festival

Capetown South Africa is the place to be as music enthusiasts converge to witness the 15th Capetown International Jazz Festival set to take place on March 28-29 2014. We’ve put together a group of travellers who will visit South Africa and take in the sights sounds, and food of this beautiful nation and as part of the tour, they will be in attendance at the festival. Sheer excitement!!!I attend a lot of festivals in the US and what makes this South African musical extravaganza so different is in its aesthetic. In Southern California, most if not all Jazz Festivals are held outdoors. It is customary to bring your blanket, picnic basket and if the festival allows, your favorite wine. Conversely, the Capetown International Jazz Festival is held indoors at the Capetown Convention Center. Most JAzz Festivals in Southern California have two stages  a main stage and a smaller stage for up and coming artists. Capetown Jazz Festival boasts 5 stages of all-star music!!!!!

The lineup this year will see the inimitable Erykah Badu as a headliner while some of the stages will boast live performances from Kirk Whalum,  Snarky Puppy,  Lalah Hathaway, Jimmy Dludlu and so much more….. It’s been interesting preparing my group for the Festival. I have to keep informing them that you don’t prepare for this festival like you do for Southern Cali festivals. This one is for the most part indoors…. and standing room only. And you must roll around stage to stage catching who you would like to see….

The Capetown International Jazz Festival is an awesome adventure that I recommend for anyone who loves music and who can make this trip happen. Not only is the festival awesome, the City of Capetown and surrounding region are absolutely stunning – full of history, culture and traditions. The infamous Robben Island sits just off the coast and a side trip of homage must be made as this is the prison that kept Nelson Mandela incarcerated for 18 of his 27 years. The Winelands of South Africa surround Capetown and a sojourn to one or more of the wineries is a must!!!

The nightlife in Capetown especially during the Festival is pretty incredible. A visit to Long Street is in order and while there are hundreds of night spots on Long Street, I must give props to an off the beaten path, hidden in the cut, outstanding little spot called Jimmy Jimalo Bar and Grill.    This little spot has the best ambience and certainly gave me an indescribable cultural experience…. AWESOME!! Last year, we rolled in the spot and observed the most incredible scene ever… There was no DJ.. just a jimbe drum, a drum set and a guitar player.. and from this trip came the  most tasty set of rhythms I have ever heard.. and the floor was packed!!!!

The Capetown Jazz Festival is so much more than a party. It is a solid commitment by it’s organizers EspAfrika to promote industry consciousness. It is akin to Grammy Week in Los Angeles as the Festival producers conduct seminars, free community concerts and workshops in schools at various venues around the city. It is a holistic approach to music industry knowledge set against the backdrop of the music performance. The Capetown Jazz Festival is a music experience that I hugely recommend to every music lover out there. The below video is the promo  from 2013 but it is the best example of illustrating the totality of the festival. Enjoy!! and hopefully we will see you in Capetown!!! If not, hit me up on Facebook and learn how you can be a part of next year’s group travelling from the States to the Capetown Jazz Festival.

Eric Roberson at Huntington Beach Central Park Library

ERIC ROBERSON FEB 1 Huntington Beach

BBJAZZ
Presents
ERIC ROBERSON

w/special guest Algebra Blessett

February 1st, 2014

www.bbjazz.com

HUNTINGTON BEACH LIBRARY THEATRE
Two shows: 7&9pm

ERIC ROBERSON w/special guest Algebra Blessett live for the first time at the Huntington Beach Library Theatre, Orange County’s best keep secret.  Up close and personal is what you get in this 300 seat venue, where every seat is a great seat.  Dinner and dancing is also available across the hall from the theatre before each show. Join us for an intimate experience with this amazing Soulful Singer/Songwriter and his special guest artist. A great buffet dinner is prepared by B&L Caterers and served in the dining room across the hall for 1-1/2 hours before each show. You can also enjoy dancing after the final dinner seating.

Eric Roberson is one of those artists that appeals to that ultra-cool music listener. Those that take thier R&B seriously. THis brotha has collaborated with the likes of Jill Scott, Muziq Soulchild and more. His music melodic and soulful so his live show promises to be quite pleasing to your auditory cravings…

His co-star Algebra Blessett is another soulful artist and I am so glad she is part of this showcase.

THe Central Library is an intimate music venue that is unmatched in Orange County and perhaps in the Los Angeles area. it boasts only a couple of hundred seats and acoustics that are crazy ridiculous. The music lover will have a great time.

South African Jazz Tour

South Africa… the land of Mandela. A land where music, food, beautiful people and colorful traditions converge into a kaleidoscope of awesome wonder. For the afropolitan cities of Johannesburg, Capetown and Durban to the scenic bushlands of Pilanesburg and Kruger.
And so we look out . It is full of metropoli, scenic bush and beautiful people…. oh yes and don’t forget the animals!!!

We are forming our second South African Jazz Tour and the manifest is almost complete. Against a backdrop of music and history, our tour group will be treated to a tour of Johannesburg, Soweto, and a lineup of excellent musical showcases. We also travel to Pilnesburg National Park where we get up close and personal with the “big Five” – elephants, lions, rhinos, giraffes and zebra.

We fly into the ultra cosmopolitan Capetown for the Capetown International Jazz Festival (www.capetownjazzfestival.com). Erykah Badu is one of the headliners along with five stages worth of music stars from various genres and time zones. It is a veritable potpourri of live music.

A stop by the famous Mahogany Room is an intense highlight of the trip…. Jazz abounds in this small but historical jazz venue.

Of course while in Capetown, we take the excursion out to Robben Island to investigate and see where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 of his 27 years. We roll out to the famed South Africa winelands for an afternoon of winetasting and scenic views.

The South African Jazz Tour is about to take off.. there’s still time to get into it…. but you have to act fast… check out our facebook events page for details