Salif Keita plays East London’s Buyel’ Ekhaya music festival

Uncharacteristically, this is neither an interview nor a review. Instead, it’s an unedited press release for something I fear might not get the coverage it warrants. Malian superstar Salif Keita, Mozambique’s Isabel Novella, local legends Vusi Mahlasela and Simphiwe Dana, and the guaranteed good times of Zahara,  Zakes Bantwini and Mi Casa… The Buyel’ Ekhaya Pan African Music Festival is a superb addition to South Africa’s annual music calendar.
Salife Keita plays East London's Buyel’ Ekhaya music festival
Herewith the press release:
Salif Keita brings his Malian magic to East LondonGolden-voiced Malian superstar Salif Keita will enchant Eastern Cape audiences with his Afro-pop vibes for the very first time on 15 December 2012, during the Buyel’ Ekhaya Pan African Music Festival.Keita is one of the continent’s most revered world-music artists, who has enjoyed more than two decades as a popular fixture on international festival and concert stages.He is no stranger to South Africa’s shores, but will be making his Eastern Cape debut as part of a star-studded line-up at the fourth annual Buyel’ Ekhaya festival, which takes place at the Buffalo City Rugby Stadium (also known as the Absa Stadium) in East London.The event is presented by Mazwai Communications, the Department of Arts and Culture, Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency (official co-partner), Buffalo City Municipality, Amathole District Municipality, SABC1, Hansa Pilsener, Umhlobo Wenene FM and Tru FM.

Despite being born with albinism and being cast out by his family and community as a supposed bringer of bad luck, Keita rose above this early setback to pursue his dream of making music. After fleeing political unrest in Mali in the 1970s, he settled in Côte d’Ivoire before moving to Paris to reach a broader audience.

Keita went on to become the toast of the world music scene, with an irresistible sound that blends West African and Islamic influences with European and North and South American stylings.

This cross-cultural approach extends to his use of traditional African instruments such as balafons, djembes and koras in addition to the guitar, organ, saxophone and synthesiser.

While he has been celebrated for his music and live performances, of equal importance are Keita’s tireless efforts to campaign for the acceptance of albinos worldwide, and specifically in Africa, where those born with the pigmentation condition remain highly stigmatised.

His 2009 album, La Différence, emphasised that “otherness” was something to be embraced and celebrated, not feared; that beauty could be found in uniqueness and diversity. No doubt this message of tolerance contributed to Keita being honoured with the 2010 Best World Music Album Award at France’s Victoires de la musique (musical victories) ceremony.

Today, Keita continues to fly the musical and cultural flag as an ambassador for Malian music. His much-anticipated performance at East London’s Buyel’ Ekhaya (meaning “go back home”) Pan African Music Festival on Saturday, 15 December 2012 ties in with the festival’s message of encouraging Eastern Cape residents to return home during the festive season.

The day-long festival will showcase the talents of African and South African artists such as Keita, Zahara, Mi Casa, Vusi Mahlasela, Zakes Bantwini and Simphiwe Dana.

Also performing for the first time in the Eastern Cape is Mozambican artist Isabel Novella, who fuses influences from her African roots with Brazilian and Latin sounds to create a delectable sound that incorporates R&B, jazz, rap and nu-soul.

Tickets are available at Computicket ( 0861 915 800 / or at Shoprite outlets. General admission tickets for the festival on Saturday, 15 December are available at R160 (gates open at 12 noon), while tickets for the after-party at Numbers Dance Club on Sunday, 16 December are priced at R120 (doors open at 9pm).VIP tickets are available by e-mailing, or contact

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