Emmaneul Nkosinathi "Nathi" Mthethwa
Minister of Arts & Culture, South Africa
Jazz is a means with which we tell our stories. We believe that events like the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, where the living legends of jazz rub shoulders with younger local artists, play an important role in providing for a cross pollination of knowledge, skills and talents. We are a nation that loves jazz music and our love of jazz is striving for an interplay of individuality with the collective, which also characterizes our struggle for freedom and our efforts to achieve sustainable economic and social development in the present.
Jazz today has grown in popularity over the years, bringing South Africans and the rest of the continent to this much-loved event. This festival creates a space for engagement and enjoyment, and also increases the economic contribution of the arts to the city of Cape Town.
Many of South Africa’s most talented jazz musicians have performed on the stages of the Cape Town international Jazz Festival– some of which are now departed from this earthly realm- like Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, Dorothy Masuku and Abdullah Ibrahim and the son of Southern African soil, Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi. These jazz icons acted as representatives of the struggle to an international audience, creating music that portrayed the beauty and courage of African culture.
While artists in exile were able to continue developing South African jazz from afar, their work was always within a context of their forcible displacement from their homeland and families, and from the local music industry itself.
The release of Nelson Mandela and the end of Apartheid in 1990 signified the hope of new beginnings. The largely peaceful revolution that ushered in democracy brought with it the notion of the ‘Rainbow Nation’ – a new South Africa that offered equality and freedom for all. A creative boom ensued during the first years of freedom, with music embracing and celebrating the country’s newfound unity. The last 25 years has seen a flourishing of the creative economy in general and of music in particular. Much remains to be done to achieve sustainable livelihoods for artists but tangible progress has been made in unleashing the economic power of the arts.
As we kick off the 20th Annual Cape Town Jazz Festival, on behalf of the Department of Arts and Culture, it my pleasure to welcome you to the City of Cape Town with these words, “Oh! Come all ye faithful Jazz enthusiasts! Let us, joyful and triumphant, partake in “Africa’s Grandest Gathering” and be regaled with the most gifted local, continental and international acts in this special and historical genre of Music in these next two days of festivities.”
Mayor of the City of Cape Town
Now in its 20th year, the Cape Town International Jazz Festival (CTIJF) remains one of the highlights on Cape Town’s calendar and is a must-see event, drawing guests from all over the world. The CTIJF contributes millions of rands to the Western Cape economy and is also a major contributor to job creation in this city. Last year, Cape Town received the accolade of being named the World’s Leading Festival and Event Destination at the 2018 World Travel Awards. This feather in our cap further cements our reputation as an attractive tourism location. In 2018, we were in the grips of a severe drought and had all hands on deck, working with our communities to get through it. This year, while I would like to encourage all our visitors to please stay water wise, we can now fully focus on the joyous atmosphere of this spectacular event. For those unable to attend the festival, the free Greenmarket Square concert offers Capetonians the chance to experience all the talent and excitement that the CTIJF brings to Cape Town. I would like to encourage visitors to our beautiful city to take advantage of all the attractions that Cape Town has to offer. We bid a warm welcome to all the performers who will be sharing their talents with us over the two-night festival. We also thank the organisers for all their hard work in ensuring this major event continues to run smoothly and for creating a platform for thousands to come together in their love of music.