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Photo: Afrikaba

Photo: Afrikaba

Kanda Bongo Man stars at AfriKàBa

Kando Bongoman, a major name in African music, is the star of this year’s AfriKàBa, the festival of African and Caribbean heritage, arts and culture, this coming weekend. An evening of film is also included. Gwyneth Wint explains what waits in store.

Kanda Bongo Man – the King of Soukous – is one of the biggest stars in World and African music. He revolutionised Congo’s favourite music, Soukous, by introducing mesmerizing guitar solos, giving rise to the famous Kwasa Kwasa dance (see it in action on the AfriKàBa website.

Championed by John Peel and Andy Kershaw in the late 1980s, he played a key role in introducing African and World music to the mainstream.

Now with a huge and loyal fan base, Kanda’s music receives regular airplay on stations including BBC Radio 3 and Radio 6 Music. Driven by optimism and happiness, his performances are exhilarating, energetic and deeply rooted in Congolese tradition.

On the afternoon of Sunday 29 September at St Mary in the Castle, Kanda Bongo Man brings to Hastings the joyous music and dance of central Africa with the UK’s favourite Congolese band, Kasai Masai, plus dancers. You may previously have seen Kasai Masai in Hastings at my Afroparty Nights and also on the Stade Saturdays stage where they were a great hit.

Also performing will be HKBFiNN, Mike Hatchard and Juliet Russell with the Vocal Explosion World Music Choir and storyteller Sandra Agard, while Paullette German-Harris will present a hilarious one-woman set.

Mama Putts’ African Caribbean food will be on sale.

Ahead of the music there will be a free story-telling session at 2pm.

Film evening

On Friday 27 September, in association with Electric Palace Cinema, AfriKàBa presents a special screening of two new films: Veronica McKenzie’s Nine Nights (UC) and HKBFiNN’s Waiting.

In Nine Nights, twin sprinters Marcie and Mikey are on the verge of adulthood. But Marcie loses her other brother in a random accident, and with her world in tatters, decides boldly not to accept his death, but to fight to keep him with her whatever it takes. The struggle brings to light long buried feuds, which Marcie must heal, and learn ultimately that love prevails.

Nine Nights – a Caribbean term for a wake, when after a death people gather together to eat, drink, dance and talk about the person who has died – is the debut feature of Veronica McKenzie, a documentary film-maker. It recently won an award at the Pan African Film Festival in Lost Angeles and screened at the British Film Institute in London in August.

Veronica hopes that Nine Nights will resonate with people who have experienced devastating loss and been able to make their way back to continue on with this dance called life. It is a funny, poignant, and healing film, which examines the relationship between the three siblings.

There will also be a screening of Waiting, a short from film-maker and musician HKBFiNN. Waiting is a black comedy about anxiety. Paul is a successful man who works in the arts. He has everything a person can want but he also has a small problem with ‘anxiety’, especially when waiting for news from a new friend. Can he make it through without giving in to his fears?

This new drama stars Justin ‘Time’ Pickett, Tunji Falana and Cherise Kirnon, with music by Guillaume Poncelet.

Both film-makers will also take part in a Q&A with me.


Screening of Nine Nights and Waiting Friday 27 September, 7.30pm, Electric Palace Cinema, 39A High St, Hastings TN34 3ER. Admission £8, £7 concessions, plus booking fee. Book online.

Kanda Bongo Man with Kasai Masai Sunday 29 September, 3pm, St Mary in the Castle, 7 Pelham Crescent, Hastings TN34 3AF. Tickets £20, students/children £10, plus booking fee, from AfriKàBa website or Tourist Information Centre, Muriel Matters House, 2 Breeds Place, Hastings TN34 3AA .

Posted 16:13 Wednesday, Sep 25, 2019 In: Festivals

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