Khuli Chana. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha
Khuli Chana. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha
Khuli Chana and Notshi. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha
Khuli Chana and Notshi. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha
KO. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha
KO. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha
Tuks Senganga. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha
Tuks Senganga. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha
The day Motswako made me cry.

In the movie Brown Sugar, Sanaa Lathan's character is asked repeatedly, "When did you first fall in love with Hip Hop?" On the evening of the 8th edition of Maftown Heights, I had to answer to myself: "When did I fall in love with Motswako?" 

The atmosphere at the Mmabatho Stadium was electric from the morning of the biggest party of Motswako. You could sense that there was something special, that something big was coming back home. One of Motswako's proudest son's, Khulani Morule, better known as Khuli Chana had done what has been long overdue, bringing Maftown Heights to its rightful home, Mahikeng.

It's been an effort that's even brought the provincial leadership to the party, the bureaucrats made speech after speech, in the lead up to Friday night- recognising th
e magnitude of the moment.

Seeing an empty Mmabatho Stadium hours before gates opened confirmed that the task ahead was still daunting; would the people of Mahikeng come out in their numbers to reclaim one of their own, or would some of the country's biggest acts perform to echoes of their own voices in an empty stadium?

To our collective relief, Maftown Heights 2017 was sold out by 8pm that evening. And there were thousands of people, young and old gathered to come witness the making of history.

It was by no stretch of the imagination perfect, there were all the problems one can associate with the teething phase of a concert of this magnitude visiting a venue for the first time. But it was still beautiful. 

Watching Kaygizm, Towdee Mac and Khuli Chana jump on the stage felt like traveling full circle. They looked awkward, maybe because they hadn't shared a stage in years as Morafe. But the fans appreciated hearing tunes like "The whole thing"  all the more.

In his solo set, Khuli still didn't disappoint. He took it back.way back. When I heard "Freshe" blasting through the speakers I felt it fall in sync with my own heartbeat.

He also welcomed onto stage the artists like Notshi and the other princes of Motswako.

When Senganga came on, I could hear the lyricism and poetic nature of Motswako that captured my ear and heart. Tuks was his normal composed self, an easy performance on the eye, but not lacking in energy and magic. His performance of 525 600 was for a lack of a better word, hypnotising.

When HHP took to the stage, he was the lovable teddy bear of a Motswako king that we've all learnt to love. He opened his set with Lefatshe Le, where he stood at the edge of the stage, with tears in his eyes. 

The melody of the song had begun, and the audience started singing along to it before he did. He looked moved beyond words. The set was all the crowd favourites. And the audience ate up every minute of it. 

The friends of Motswako were also equally entertaining with KO and Ricky Rick wowing audiences, with their high quality performances. Particularly with KO, he had an intimacy with the audience when he performed his slower songs that left some female members of the audience transfixed. 

The atmosphere was charged with a solid love for Hip Hop. And what a night it was. 

So, when did I first fall in love with Mostwako? When I heard in the lyrics of the motswako cats stories and reflections of my life in the language of my ancestors. And I can only hope that the love affair between MaftownHeights and Mahikeng grows from strength to strength-if only to give it that good old home ground feel. 


IOL