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AWESOME AFRICA - THE BEST EVER! (article first published : 2003-10-8)

The fifth Standard Bank Awesome Africa Music Festival was held for the first time in Durban's Albert Park last weekend and has been applauded by organisers, the public and the community alike as being the best ever.

The event was 100% incident free with the nearly 7 000 music lovers enjoying a feast of international and South African music in absolute safety in the most beautiful park setting, over the weekend.

"We are thrilled that the festival was such a phenomenal success," says Awesome Africa's Prof Pitika Ntuli. "We feel that we have a unique template and platform which we can develop which includes great international and local music, urban regeneration programs and job creation and tourist potential. We would like to publicly acknowledge our sponsors and partners - in particular Standard Bank, the City of Durban, KZN Tourism and iTrump - for their vision, support and commitment in making this wonderful festival happen."

"Many people were sceptical about us moving into Albert Park, but we knew that Durban's spirit is unique. We are setting an example here for the rest of Africa" says co-ordinator Thalia Erwin.

"The festival saw some phenomenal music collaborations taking place as well as some profound and culturally astonishing music genres being showcased. Audiences had the rare opportunity of seeing the largest contingent of international and Pan African performers ever assembled together in South Africa," says Awesome Africa's Dan Chiorboli.

250 artists from 22 countries congregated in Durban for the two-day festival. Many of the artists ran workshops and master-classes prior to the Albert Park event to share their skills and experiences with locals. In particular Kwaito star Zola spent time with the children from the Thutakhani Harm Reduction Centre and was so moved by this experience, that he donated his Awesome Africa performance fee to the home.

"It felt that for the first time this year, the concept of Celebrate Durban has matured and come together and shown its full potential. It started as an idea to bring the people of Durban together and this year it really achieved this. The event was characterised by en enormous sense of 'Goodwill' - among the Awesome team, the community, the officials and the audience. It was also an incredibly moving experience. It was great to enjoy music and company together. If this is year one - imagine year five!" said iTrump's programme leader, Richard Dobson.

"From a policing point of view - the festival was totally incident free and the crowd behaviour was excellent. The success was about co-ordinated teamwork and thorough forward planning. The inclusion of the SANDF: Umgeni Commando; the Metro Police; independent security personnel and community liaison all contributed to there being no incidents, says Inspector Kevin Govender.

"The Standard Bank Group is proud of its Public/Private Partnership with the eThekwini Municipality. Our sponsorship of the Celebrate Durban and Awesome Africa Festivals is part of a broader commitment towards the economic and social development of the city and province. The success of these festivals are an unequivocal demonstration of the possibilities that exist through effective PPPs. Congratulations to the eThekwini Municipality and the organisers of the festivals for the vision in embarking on this daunting project." says Mr Thomas Naidoo, Provincial Director, Standard Bank Group KZN.

"The festival has the potential to be one of the most significant events on the KZN calendar and it can go a long way to really putting Durban on the international musical map," said UniCity Manager, Dr Michael Sutcliffe. Albert Park is undoubtedly the most appropriate venue for this festival - welcoming the public into the spacious Albert Park goes a long way to reclaiming the park. The festival also gave the Tropicale a new lease on life - it was the perfect al-fresco jazz venue and it is hoped that it will be able to be used for similar events in the future.




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