I confess. I had little idea what to expect at last night’s LIRA concert at Kirstenbosch. Often, no expectations mean fewer disappointments but disappointed I certainly could NOT have been. In fact, I was blown away by the warm, wholesome, happy vibe that LIRA inspired at her concert, dressed in jeans and a long, beautifully pink patterned cloak which swayed and moved to her rhythms.
It was one of those perfect evenings at Kirstenbosch: clear skies, not a breath of wind when all around Cape Town the wind seemed to have been blowing quite strongly, and that distinctly unified feeling of being one happy nation, oblivious to all the issues that threaten to pull us down at every opportunity: lack of water, too much crime, unpredictable politics. Music, like sport, is the one unifying factor in our diversity. So vital.
Lerato Molapo, known professionally as Lira, is a South African singer. She was born in Daveyton, on Johannesburg’s East Rand in 1979 and is a delightful performer with a strong, distinctive sound. At times, I felt she could be our own Diana Ross.
Her enthusiasm and contact with the crowd was quite superb. It is seldom that performers are so grateful and complementary about their audiences, constantly interacting and telling them how beautiful and wonderful they are. Her name translates to “love” in Sesotho apparently which was so fitting I thought.
She sang some stunning songs from her “Born Free’ album, including ‘Let there be light’ in which she urged the crowd to use any light they had with them, and hold it up in the air, shining a little light into the world. She prefaced ‘Listen’ encouraging us to listen to our inner voices, to listen to our breath, to listen and never stop breathing, never stop healing.
‘Something inside so strong’ was a firm favourite with the crowds, who spontaneously got up and swayed, many holding their cell phones high above the crowds to capture the special atmosphere which no doubt they will be playing and replaying in the days to follow.
The one thing about Sunset Kirstenbosch Concerts that always strikes me is the incredible sense of community, of oneness, of the inspiring but often elusive UBUNTU that surfaces at times like this when we are all united in our love of music.
And then it was the girls turn to be pleasantly surprised when she announced the next song- the theme track of Mowana! They both sang with smiley eyes, facing me deliberately so that I could see that they knew all the words, thrilled to know that it was LIRA who sang the theme track of one of their favourite movies.
Amongst the crowd of locals, there is always a noticeable lot of tourists at events like these, mostly German it seemed last night, with two separate groups seated close to us and I can only imagine that for them, these concerts must be a highlight of any visit to Cape Town.
Even the guinea fowl with baby in tow wanted part of the action!
LIRA was accompanied by a brilliant band with strong sax and electric guitar sounds adding to her inspirational songs.
“In Africa” she proclaimed, “we do stuff with serious attitude…. There’s nobody with your body. You are unique. I don’t care how fat you are , how thin you are, how old you are. …Now’s the time to celebrate your body. What’s important is that you’re alive, you’re healthy! Now get on your feet, and get over all your issues and swing your hips, side to side….”
By the end of the concert, everyone was on their feet, and the baby belonging to the foreign couple to the side of us was happily enveloped into the arms of the one of a group of young good- looking women, their rhythms so natural, so effortless, so African.
It’s at events like these that make you proud of being an African.
What a superb way to start another beautiful week in the Mother City.
Thanks again to Conversations Squared for the trade exchange.