By Grant Moyo
The Victoria Falls Carnival has been wanting to move the dates of the carnival for many years now and lockdowns to prevent the spread of Covid-19, presented the best opportunity to do so, says the festival director Craig Bright, conveying the tidings on the reformation of Africa’s most invigorating music and adventure festival, which returns for its 10th edition next year.
Noteworthy is the shift in dates, from taking place over the festive new year period to commencing from April 29 to May 1, to allow festival-goers to witness Africa’s majestic setting — Victoria Falls — in all its glory after the Zimbabwean summer rains.
The Victoria Falls Carnival, which attracts over 5 000 party-spirited visitors, who converge to celebrate Africa’s diverse cultures, arts, music and food every year, was established in 2012.
It takes place in the resort town of Victoria Falls, a stamping ground far-famed for having one of the seven natural wonders of the world ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’ (the smoke that thunders).
Bringing together Africa’s biggest artistes for a three-day music extravaganza bolstered with bungee jumping, white river rafting, helicopter flights, sunset cruise down the mighty Zambezi river, day trip safari to Chobe National Park, high tea at the Livingstone hotel, wildlife and gorge swings, the Vic Falls Carnival is known as one of the top 10 music and adventure festivals in the world.
To date, the carnival has been graced by some of the globally celebrated musical artistes of African ancestry like Disc Jockey, record producer and songwriter Black Coffee, prolific musical duo Black Motion, singer-songwriter Shekhinah, Disc Jockey Prince Kaybee, singer-songwriter Jeremy Loops, Congolese-born singer-songwriter and music producerTresor and house trio Mi Casa, among others.
Next year’s edition will consist of a power line up of multiple-award winning artistes who garnered most of the prestigious African and global gongs in 2020 and 2021.
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These include record producer, disc jockey and vocalist DJ Maphorisa (South Africa), DJ and record producer Kabza De Small (South Africa), musician and record producer Master KG (South Africa) and Zimbabwe-born singer-songwriter Sha Sha.
Bright, who has over 20 years of experience in the music and festival industry, started the famous South African music festival called Rocking the Daisies in 2006.
He built it from a first year attendance of 700 fans into Africa’s biggest four-day music and lifestyle festival with over 25 000 fans.
Bright has also worked with some of the biggest international artistes such as American folk rock band The Lumineers, American rock band Incubus, English pop rock band Bastille, Scottish singer-songwriter Paulo Nutini, English indie rock band Alt-J, English singer-songwriter Ben Howard, American singer-songwriter Ben Harper, English reggae and pop band UB40 and English electronic band Morcheeba, to mention but a few.
“For our efforts in 2009 and 2010, we were recognised with the Climate Change Leadership Award in the Small to Medium Business Category. In 2011 we won the Eco-Logic Award for Climate Change and Eco-Logic Award in Transport which we also won in 2012. In the same year we were also acknowledged with the Eco-Logic Award for Recycling and we were finalists in the Bookmarks Awards for Best Social Media Campaign as well as the Mail and Guardian Future Greening Awards. My team and I even managed the WWF 21 year anniversary of their partnership with Nedbank, which was a show that was 100% sustainable,” Bright said.
“Accordingly, sustainability is a part of the company’s policy and we will be doing everything to live a greener and run as close to a carbon neutral event as possible. The 10th edition of the Vic Falls Carnival will comprise biodegradable packaging for all our food stalls containers and bar mugs. We will be recycling all our waste. At past shows we offset our carbon emissions by planting trees, we also have made all our merchandise out of hemp material. At one festival we collected all the vegetable oils from all our traders six months prior to the event, inverted it into bio-diesel and used it in our aerators to power the event. The festival site actually smelt like deep fried chips!”
In making the Vic Falls Carnival successful, Bright works with all the top suppliers in Zimbabwe as well as concert promoters from neighbouring countries, to source the best in local and sub-Saharan African music.
The sought-after festival director pointed out that with the help of his team, every year they want to be better than the previous years, hence, they are in continual competition with themselves.
He said there is nothing more rewarding than seeing thousands of happy faces enjoying every aspect of the carnival.
Bright and his team try to focus on all the five human senses, optimistic that if festival-goers positively experience something magical through each one of their senses, they are bound to create lifelong memories.
“In the past we have done some incredible experiential marketing events for artists. We organised an event at the Two Door Cinema club for 5 Gum and we did a secret party in Cape Town and Johannesburg for over 5000 fans. In Cape Town we hired an old cement factory close to the airport and gathered everyone in for the show, it was mind blowing! Vic Falls Carnival is one of my personal favourites and the location is probably one of the best in the world. To have one of the seven natural wonders of the world as your backdrop to some of Africa’s finest artistes is magnificent,” Bright said.
“Consequently, we moved the dates of the Vic Falls Carnival because the weather is amended at the end of April. It’s more feasible for our fans and for us as a business since we are now out of season. We are no longer competing with New Year’s events around the world, celebrating the end and the beginning of a year. We want to change that narrative and focus on celebrating Africa’s rich and diverse culture, arts and entertainment. Our focus is on the five southern African countries namely Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia, South Africa and Namibia. We want the next edition of the carnival to represent all these countries, showcasing their colourful diversity and the immensely talented artists that come from the SADC region.”
The Vic Falls Carnival is also involved in quite a few CSI projects and has teamed up with Africa Rising to raise funds for various projects in the holiday resort.
Giving an insight on the challenges faced over the years and how the organisers have overcome difficulty, Bright said that most events and festivals have their issues that pop up at the last minute but what matters is how problems are solved in a calm and understanding manner.
“I would actually label our industry more of a ‘problem solving’ than an ‘event management’ business. We are constantly dealing with external factors like weather and we have only once ever had to replace an artist due to a ‘no show’. This artist had a reputation of doing this, but within twenty four hours we replaced the lineup with Sha Sha, and she blew the socks off the audience. So it actually worked out for the best in the end,” Bright said.
With the 10th edition of the renowned Vic Falls Carnival on the cards, Bright, who believes that the Zimbabwean hospitality is second to none, declares that the destination festival is ready to welcome enthusiasts from all over the world with open arms.
Festival-goers are encouraged to explore the falls — a UNESCO world heritage site, and experience as much as possible that Victoria Falls has to offer. It is truly a magical place with the most awe-inspiring hosts.
- Grant Moyo is a prolific writer, innovative media personality, entrepreneur and a creative artist, who is passionate about using his creative mind for the betterment of society. Follow him on Twitter: @TotemGrant