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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

CELEBRATE ETHEKWINI 2005 (article first published : 2005-09-9)

A myriad of eclectic events is on offer this year during the fourth annual Celebrate eThekwini’s major line up of spring events that focus this year on the theme of Celebrating 50 years of the Freedom Charter. The season sees a full calendar for the month of September through to October – in particular over the Michaelmas school holidays - with a balanced mix of social, family, heritage, sports, arts, culture, environmental and spiritual events to celebrate our cultural diversity.

This year Durban again hosts its international sister cities as guests for the Celebrate eThekwini season. Delegates from Chicago, Nantes, Bulawayo and Guangzhou will arrive in Durban and join the celebrations. Appropriately - the season kicks of with the first event on September 14 with the Gandhi lecture and peace awards hosted by the Ghandi Development Trust. The Gateway Theatre of Shopping will host the Durban Fashion Experience retail show on September 24 which features fashion from various Gateway retailers and on Friday, four invited designers - who exhibited at the SA Fashion Week – will be showing their latest innovations. The Fashion Experience is hosting a competition open to all creative people. The first prize is a fully fitted retail shop at Gateway!

September 22 sees two key events - Storytelling at the Durban Botanical Gardens hosted by the Municipal Library Service during the day. The KZN Philharmonic Orchestra presents a gala concert titled Operatic Celebrations at 19h30 in the City Hall as part of their World Symphony Series Spring Season The programme will include popular arias and ensembles from, among others, Grieg’s Peer Gynt and Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore.

Many of the events cluster around the two key weekends. The first weekend sees a myriad of events. On Friday an exhibition opens in the Durban Art Gallery and there will be plenty of excitement at Blue Lagoon for the eagerly-awaited Eastern Music Festival. The Swedish circus group, Cirkus Cirkor, is in Durban for the month of September and will tour various venues in and around Durban, including Chatsworth, KwaMashu, Umlazi, Inanda, Hluhluwe and Ulundi, and two performances at the BAT Centre on September 22 and 23. This three-year project focuses on the rehabilitation of street children in Durban, and the Ohlanga Shelter in Inanda was selected in June 2005 for the initial phase of the programme. Also at the BAT Centre is an interactive installation exhibition featuring works by the AIR Programme students. Miniature representations of various buildings in and around Durban that are historically, recreationally or aesthetically beautiful will be held at the BAT Centre from September 23.

Heritage Day, September 24, sees the third annual Miss eThekwini fashion and beauty pageant and the 8th annual Miss Teen eThekwini at the ICC. The BAT Centre will showcase Durban's vibrant cultural heritage by hosting a Heritage Day Concert featuring diverse musical genres including percussion, jazz, gospel, rock, hip hop and much more

Fast becoming a popular annual event is Celebrating our Biodiversity with award-winning performer and conservationist Aubrey Silinyana - a joint project with the eThekwini Municipal Libraries at the Botanic Gardens. The plays that Aubrey will present promote nature and environmental conservation, a core function of the Natural Science Museum. This will be held at various times and venues throughout the season. September 24 also sees the Cell C Music School Festival in St Andrews St where many of Durban’s top musicians and bands will perform in an extensive programme of popular pieces – everything from classics to choral.

The Playhouse Company presents its second International Traditional Arts Festival on September 24 and 25. The festival programme centres on a Saturday evening concert in the Playhouse Opera with Ladysmith Black Mambazo among the headline acts. SABC television luminary Vuyo Mbuli is the festival concert’s MC, introducing the wide-ranging talent line-up representing various traditional performance genres.

On September 25 there will be an Interfaith Prayer for Peace at the City Hall once more hosted by the World Conference on Religion and Peace. It is an opportunity for people from all the diverse faith groupings in eThekwini to come together.

Once more there is a strong environmental focus to the season. The Cleaning and Greening programme is an ongoing project run by Durban Solid Waste. Their objective is to educate the public on environment awareness and on correct waste disposal methods and they are looking for the support of the community to stop/prevent illegal dumping.

Fronted by well-known Durban diva Nonhlanhle Wanda, the IVA Band will be jazzing on the BAT Centre Deck on September 25. Durban Arts Association will stage two major concerts showcasing performances by cultural music groups from the 14 local arts forums of the eThekwini Municipality. To be as inclusive as possible – there will be 11 categories in which to perform – from gospel to isicathamiya; pop to maskandi. The first will take place in the New Building Hall at Clermont Central on September 25 at 10h00. The second one will be on October 2 at Tongaat Civic Centre, at 10h00. There will be prizes to be won.

On September 28 and 29, there will be a craft display exhibition at the Glenwood Village Moore Road Library.

Then the season picks up momentum for the second busy weekend. Red Eye on September 30 will take place in and around the City Hall precinct and Durban Art Gallery, showcasing emerging and innovative performing and visual arts sub-cultures throughout the city.

One of the key events on the KZN cultural calendar is the seventh Standard Bank Awesome Africa Music Festival which moves for the first time to the Playhouse Complex in Durban on October 1 and 2. This is part of the eThekwini Municipality’s drive to develop a Cultural Precinct within Durban’s Inner City district. The festival forms the anchor for the cultural component of the exciting Celebrate Durban season. Senegalese superstar Baaba Maal and legendary Indian percussionist Zakhir Hussain have been confirmed as part of a star-studded cast of musicians for 2005’s Standard Bank Awesome Africa Festival. The festival has developed a unique multi-cultural pan-African musical identity which includes unusual marriages of different genres and styles. The general theme of the music focuses on collaborations with artists from the African continent and beyond - and represents a massive cross-cultural fusion of energy that attracts musicians and music lovers both nationally and internationally.

No celebration would be complete without a Float Parade – this year it takes place on October 1 leaving the City Hall at 09h00 and moving throughout the CBD. The 30 floats display an ideal mix of community, commercial and cultural influences which epitomize Durban. Ensuring that CBD revellers attending the various CBD events don’t go hungry – Flavours of Durban will be offering a variety of food alternatives throughout the weekend of October 1 and 2 in front of the City Hall in a New Orleans-style culinary street-side festival. Wrapping up the second weekend will be Isicathamiya and Indlamu finals at the YMCA on October 2.

Durban has once again put together a diverse, engaging and participative programme for September to which city residents and visitors are warmly invited to share.




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