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Zimfest Live 2023: The epitome of good music, growth and community

Eclectic, magical and memorable! Local and international acts, including Killer T, Freeman HKD, Berita, Holy Ten, Sha Sha, Musa Keys and Kabza De Small graced the festival’s 22nd edition, as thousands turned out to support.

Zimfest Live returned for its annual celebration and whether you were there in person or got a glimpse from the sidelines, we can all admit, it was bigger, better and more brilliant than ever.

The music festival, which has been running for 22 years, was attended by approximately 10,000 people. In a crowded festival marketplace, Zimfest Live has found its niche and brought music fans from across the world to celebrate the power of music, art, entrepreneurship and culture.

It was evident that the organisers aimed to give festival-goers more than just music, but an all-inclusive experience over two days. With the introduction of the Shisha lounge and Sky Terrace lounge, it was the festival’s way of showing how far they have come to cater to their audience. While there may be a few lessons to be learned for the future, the new additions showed potential.

Zimbabwean singer Kae Chaps performing at Zimfest Live 2023
Zimbabwean singer Kae Chaps performing at Zimfest Live 2023

A spokesperson for Redcliff Management, said: “Zimfest Live has become one of the largest and most loved African festivals, bringing amazing music and a great party atmosphere. 

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“This year we set out to make the festival larger and different. Working with our sponsors and partners, we changed the format to allow our audience to experience an event that went beyond just music but that showcased creativity, innovation and talent across the board.

“The turnout this year was phenomenal and we are thrilled to have had a sold out event. As we continue to expand the scope of the festival, we want to ensure that it remains a space that is accessible, inclusive and embodies the very best talent Southern Africa has to offer both on a local and international scale.”

Unwavering security 

Security and safety concerns often affect the dynamics of music festivals, but Zimfest Live’s measures were ironclad. Every area was covered and allowed a safe, controlled entrance, and exit to the event – a testament to the hard work and dedication of the men in uniform!

The performers that were the life of the party

The one area Zimfest Live always gets right is the entertainment. This year’s lineup was carefully selected using feedback from previous and prospective attendees. Judging from the crowd’s reaction, every artist was well received. 

Musa Appreciate Makamu, professionally known as Musa Keys performing at Zimfest Live 2023
Musa Appreciate Makamu, professionally known as Musa Keys performing at Zimfest Live 2023

The sound and stage management crews, both on the main and amapiano arenas raised the bar – if there was an Oscar for sound production at a festival, they could have been in the running.

Relatively new to the music scene, Kae Chaps made his debut appearance at the festival. As far as introductions go, he did a solid job and we can expect more from him in the future. Feli Nandi joined a longlist of talented women this year and also gave a breathtaking performance, adding variety to the lineup. 

Holy Ten had the crowds roaring. If receiving a wad of money from a fan in the audience is a sign of a good performance, then the 24-year-old Harare rapper gave them a performance worth splurging for.

The ‘Queen of Soul’

In true fashion, Berita serenaded fans. The ‘Conquering Spirit’ singer is a seasoned festival entertainer, having performed at festivals that include Bayimba International Festival and the Cape Town Jazz Festival, and her first appearance at Zimfest was no different. 

Performing with Zimbabwe based band, Shabach, she created an exclusive playlist for Zimfest which included her latest track Ndicel’ikiss (Can I have a kiss), Thandolwethu (Our Love) and Pakhama Africa (Arise Africa).

She said: “This was my first performance at Zimfest and I wanted it to be amazing and to make people feel good. It was an interactive show and I had a great crowd to perform for.”

Amapiano bliss

In recent years, amapiano has fast become one of the most popular genres to come out of South Africa. From the townships of Pretoria and Johannesburg, right onto the international scene, it is evident that its global footprint is a result of some of its superstars who are making waves across the music spectrum.

Kabelo Petrus Motha is a South African DJ and record producer, popularly known as Kabza De Small. He is seen here performing at Zimfest Live 2023 in the UK
Kabelo Petrus Motha is a South African DJ and record producer, popularly known as Kabza De Small. He is seen here performing at Zimfest Live 2023 in the UK

If ever there was a show where you got three for the price of one, the Piano Republik stage delivered that and more. With Sha Sha, Musa Keys and Kabza De Small featuring front and centre in the evening slot, the iconic red tent was abuzz.

Sha Sha kicked off the evening show with a stunning performance of her much-loved songs, giving revellers a glimpse of what international virtuosos Musa Keys and Kabza De Small had in store.

Both artists explored amapiano in every way possible – from minimal instrumentals to intense vibes – they rounded off an incredible first day!

Not one but TWO!

With a surprise addition of a second day, a more intimate crowd turned out to watch ExQ, Saintfloew, Stunner, Kikky Badass and more.

If this was the party after the main party, then there was no other place to be than nestled in the heart of St Albans, despite the rain. This was a promising sign of where the festival could be headed in the future. Who knows, this could be the African version of Glastonbury we have all been waiting for.

Traffic delays are inevitable

Unfortunately, attending a major event will always result in traffic delays and congestion. Like every year, Zimfest Live has experienced long exit times but what we need to realise is that this is often not in anyone’s control and is unlikely to ever change given the magnitude of the festival.

Unless you own a helicopter or motorbike, chances are, you’ll have to stick it out or leave earlier in future.

This year’s sponsors included global remittance companies World Remit and Mukuru, as well as Nyaradzo Life Insurance, CBZ Holdings, Diaspora Insurance, My Hippostore, Ngoto and Masau Gin.

For more information about Zimfest Live including dates for next year, visit zimfestlive.com