Maseru is a wonderful place, but it is largely bereft of unique dining, music or theatrical pursuits. Every so often however there is an event thrown together that brings us culturally starved individuals out of the woodwork! Last night Alliance Francaise Maseru put on an event that crossed several genres and more than ticked the box for uniqueness.
Two french musical groups came to Maseru, but they couldn’t be further apart in style. The first group, Akale Wube, is a Parisian band who plays Ethiopian music with jazzy undertones. The sound is a wonderful mixture of percussion, horns and guitars and offers a perfect background soundtrack for sitting in a cafe garden talking to friends. Luckily, that was exactly the atmosphere!
With the red and green stage lights casting haunting shadows on the leafless trees and various tables crowded around outdoor heaters, it was not a normal venue for a musical concert in the plummeting temperatures of nearly winter Lesotho, but it was magical. The colder temperatures didn’t prevent a large number of Basotho and expats from attending and enjoying the wonderful music. Of course the exquisite homemade Ethiopian food on offer helped chase away a good amount of the chill in the air.
A while later we were treated to a complete change of pace with the second group. On came four French lads who created the most amazing sounds, all from their mouths/throats. Under Kontrol are a beat box group, meaning they use no instruments to perform. It is simply the four of them ‘playing’ drums, trumpet, guitar and turn tables all from their mouths. They sing as well, frequently in different voices, all of which leads to a fabulous smorgasbord of sounds and energy.
They started with a mix of blues, jazz and hip hop sounds, before moving through the gears to really show off their talent. The switches in their vocal ‘instruments’, intensity and tone were quick and fierce, but always completely controlled. They had people up and dancing, tapping their feet and bobbing along to songs none of us knew. They finished it all up with individual free-styling. If I hadn’t been right there seeing it, I could never have believed that one person could make so many different sounds at the same time. If you’ve never seen this kind of thing before, have a listen to this and remember that there are no instruments being used!
It was a great evening and very well organised, perfect for a unique experience shared with good friends. We only wish there were more opportunities like this sometimes!