Review: Mango Groove Embodies the Rainbow Nation at Kirstenbosch


mango grooveAhhh… nothing spells Cape Town summer more than a picnic with friends, dancing to the beats at Old Mutual Kirstenbosch Summer concerts.

The south easter wind eased and the sun shone as friends and family gathered to see the legendary Mango Groove.  It was my first Mango Groove concert and boy, I was blown away by the 11-piece band.

The fusion of South African urban music of marabi, kwela, mbube, pop… Whether you are a toddler crawling on all fours a moustache-rocking hipster or a silver-haired grandmother, the festivity of music brought everyone to their feet by the second song – quite a feat at the notoriously laid back Kirstenbosch concert lawn.

When Claire Johnston belted out a special dedication to Catherine, mother of Johan who has been Mango Groove’s sound engineer for the past 25 years, only a small handful of people could have known the lady in question.  Yet emotions run high amongst the dedicated fans of Mango Groove, and it was a touching moment as the crowd sang “Happy Birthday” in unison.

With the same down-to-earth attitude, Claire recounted her memory of her first Kirstenbosch concert – and how the park had stolen her breath away. “Kirstenbosch’s biodiversity… reminds us of how amazing South Africans are” she smiled.  “Despite the turmoils in our country’s history.”  The crowd rose to their feet as everyone joined in the chorus:

… get up and dance

Dance, dance, dance

dance some more…

It was reminiscent of the collective unison Mango Groove inspired in 1983, when they became one of the first multi-cultural bands in apartheid-era South Africa.  Almost 30 years later, the audience truly resembled the rainbow nation that Madiba envisioned.   Thank you, Mango Groove, for bringing summer back!

Lisa Huang

Mango Groove performed at the Old Mutual Kirstenbosch Summer Concert on 1 December 2012.


See our photos of the concert on Facebook.  Feel free to tag yourself!


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