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Lira and Lura rock fans at the Joburg Theatre


The Africa Unite concert staged at the Johannesburg Theatre as part of the build-up to Africa Day celebrations today, lived up to its billing, with all the featured artists calling for the continent’s people to unite for greater good.

Musician after musician – from South African superstars Ringo Madlingozi and Lira, Cape Verde’s gorgeous and sassy Lura to Nigeria’s Femi Koya and Ghanaian-American poet and singer Abena Koomson – the message was the same: let there be tolerance, peace, unity and love.

They were all united in their condemnation of the recent xenophobic violence in South Africa and emphasised that through education Africans would understand and live with one another in peace. The two-night concert was a huge success, with throngs of music lovers filling the venue on both nights.

Lura, the Lisbon-born Cape Verde artist and her five-piece band, rocked the house on Saturday night with her unique and African-inspired repertoire of uptempo jazz, soul and pop music in Creole, Portuguese and English. The specially prepared 10-song package had members of the audience dancing in the aisles. Her ensemble – musicians from Angola, Brazil, Portugal and Cape Verde – did not disappoint.

Towering in very high black heels, a white dress and a perfect Afro, Lura was a hit from the moment she stepped onto the Mandela Stage. In her powerful voice, she belted out hit after hit and the audience approved. Then the shoes came off, and with a kanga around her waist, she got down to show off energetic and sensual Cape Verde dance moves that sent the crowd into frenzy.
Among the songs were a popular Cape Verde lullaby, a tune about an African king and a medley of some of her greatest hits.

After apologising for her “not so perfect” English, Lura declared: “Joburg rocks … the audience too. I want every concert to be like this … God, are you listening to me?” she said to a standing ovation. Not to be outdone, the sultry South African hit-maker Lira and her four-piece band had the audience eating out of the palms of their hands with old-time favourites such as Phakade, Hamba, Rise Again, Ngiya Zifela and Feel Good and many others.

Her version of Miriam Makeba’s Pata Pata and her new offering, Rhythm of the Heart, had the crowd begging for more. Her message was very clear, too: African unity is the way to go.
She said Africans owed it to themselves to foster unity through educating one another about the continent.

Koya and Koomson paid a moving tribute to the legendary Fela Kuti to bring down the curtain on the two-day musical extravaganza. Koomson, a member of the Tony award-winning Fela! Broadway musical, showed some great moves. His band of Nigerian, South African and Congolese musicians was a great example of how performing artists are leading the way in uniting the continent. By the time the curtain came down and more than four hours later, it was well after midnight.

But no one was complaining because African sounds and rhythms were still ringing in their ears as everyone headed home. – Doreen Zimbizi.