Having heard the vibrant music from a block away, a festive street scene awaited those attending the annual Uthando Benefit Concert, with food trucks, coffee stands and upbeat African music lending a party atmosphere to Corporation Street alongside the City Hall. The Amy Biehl Foundation Marimba Band alternated with a drumming circle where anyone could pick up an instrument and join the fun.
Young ladies dressed in traditional Xhosa clothing greeted guests as they entered the historical City Hall. The corridors were lively with exhibitors from every organization under the Uthando umbrella – from Greenpop to Streetsmart, Harvest of Hope to Rock Girl – on hand to talk visitors through their projects, while in the bar and dancefloor room DJ Eitan Stern was kickstarting the party with lively beats.
UthandoSA (love SA) is a registered non-profit organization that provides a platform for tourists to contribute to and experience the development of social development projects, and the core part of the evening took place in the main auditorium, with a showcase of local talent from the innovative community-based projects with which UthandoSA is involved.
Comedian Siv Ngesi as the MC introduced lively and vibrant choirs ranging from the remarkable teenagers of the Amy Biehl Choir and the Thokozani Choir to the singing senior citizens of the Masibathande Project. Dance ensembles from Zama Dance Group, Jikeleza, Amy Biehl and Dance For All showed off an array of styles including Classical Ballet, Jazz, African, Gumboot Dancing and Kwaito. A highlight was the Betterchoice Dancers’ intricate yet comical performance of gumboot dancing by kids aged from maybe eight to 16. With conviction and ease they slapped their boots to create impressive – and often breathtakingly fast – polyrhythm phrases embodying the character and style of mineworkers.
Kgomotso Malele, a beaming, bright young lady, performed compelling words of motivational poetry that resonated so profoundly that the audience rose to its feet as one to applaud her.
Guest performances by talented ensembles included opera from The Gugulethu Tenors and a finale from 3 Tons of Fun. The all-female trio had audience members up and jiving to local hits from Mango Groove and Miriam Makeba.
The Uthando Benefit Concert exceeded all expectations by creating an inspiring and unforgettable night. Director James Fernie’s words “Tonight we are all proudly South African” were well vindicated by the outstanding talent from these young rising stars.
The Uthando Benefit Concert was held at the City Hall on 6 September 2014.