I was born and bred in Swaziland…though I’ve not lived there in the past 20 years. In the late eighties there used to be King’s Trust Concert which brought international artists into the kingdom. Artists such as Eric Clapton and Joan Armatrading have all performed at the King’s Trust in Somhlolo Stadium.
I was still at primary school then and I used to attend King’s Trust Concert, however not as a music fan…but helping my mother who was a food vendor. The concerts were hosted in winter and I recall that our stall would attract many white South Africans who loved my mum’s potjiekos (traditional meat and vegetable stew for boers. Slowly cooked in a three-legged cast-iron pot over open fires). I made friends with the concert goes who were mainly drunk or stoned from Swazi Gold (dagga) and pocketed a lot of tips from the jovial music fans. I used to enjoy this concerts a great deal because I made a lot of money in the process.
During that period South Africa was still isolated from the rest of the world because of apartheid regime. As a result international artists would not perform in South Africa. Therefore the King’s Trust Concerts attracted quite a number of music lovers from the neighbouring South Africa.
Fastforward to 2013, when I attended my first MTN Bushfire Festival, this time as a music lover and not a food trader. My early memories of seeing loads of white people gathered in Swaziland for a music concert were rekindled. Next week am attending MTN Bushfire Festival again this time as part of a hosted media group, courtesy of Swaziland Tourism Authority.
Why I just love the MTN Bushfire Festival:
EXPOSURE FOR LOCAL TALENT
Homegrown Swazi talent such as musicians, DJ’s, visual artists are given a platform to showcase their skill with the rest of the world without having to travel long distances into neighbouring countries to be appreciated.
Many small businesses such as food vendors man their stalls supplying meals to festival goers and making a profit in the process. Last year a stall selling braai meat couldn’t cope with the high demand. This opportunity is not only opened to local traders, as I sampled food from a few South African food vendors such as Mystic Yeoville and Tucco Food Co.
Apart from the obvious neighbouring South Africans, the festival attracts quite a number of travellers from across the globe, considering that the artists lineup is also made up of musicians from around the world.
— MTNPlayMusic (@MTNPlayMusic) May 23, 2014
The festival also attracts a great deal of foreign media which helps sell destination Swaziland to the rest of the world. This is a reputable music festival that spins Swaziland in a good light despite its well documented misgivings. I too will be representing that crop of travel bloggers searching for a good story to share about my country of birth.
Accommodation facilities closer to the festival venue smile all the way to the bank because of brimming business. Transport providers alike shuttle festival goes between various parts of the festival venue and other tourists attractions. All the foreign currency brought into the country helps boast the local economy.