Following Yvonne Chaka Chaka’s show at the Botswana Craft a fortnight, I have come across an article or two that sing praises for the once popular Princess of Africa. Granted, it must have been nostalgic for some of the revellers to attend her show; some possibly for the first time.
I insisted on an early arrival at the show as I expected parking and sitting challenges. Dropping in at about half 7 was fine, although the traffic suggested that I could have done myself good by coming 30 minutes or so earlier.
Of course the show resonated well with those above the age of thirty, who would have a good recollection of what the princess meant to the music lovers four or so decades ago. As we stepped in, the first set back was no chairs for us the other side of fifty to rest our exhausted spines on. The bold in me immediately located the owner of the venue to lodge a complaint and, at the very least, to negotiate two chairs for me and my friend. Nope. There was nothing he could do as that was the arrangement of the organisers. Having no clue as to what the organisers looked like, my battle was lost. I had to resort to plan B.
It struck me hard that somebody can put together a show for the aged and expect them to spend the whole duration of it standing. Perhaps somebody suggested to them that Yvonne’s music would keep us on the dancing floor throughout the show. Supposing that was true, which it was not, there was some Brown Sugar to endure who, unfortunately, did not seem to hit the right chord with the crowd. Instead the DJ, who started the evening, did better, belting out the old tunes that warmed us up for the big evening we were all lined up for. Minus the frequent abrupt interruption of the songs to engage revellers to fill up the void to show their intimacy with the songs, the DJ was good, and must have made it a night for some.
Then in came Brown Sugar. I’m sorry, in my space it was an anti-climax. It did seem like the case with the rest of the crowd as the euphoria that engulfed the venue during the DJ’s session died down. Maybe the ladies will come right sooner rather than later; especially that we were made to believe that during their long break into oblivion, they worked hard in advancing themselves academically and otherwise. Good luck to them as they fight their way back into the hearts of music lovers and of course in their live pursuits in general.
Then what was supposed to be the big moment arrived. The Princess of Africa jumped on stage, as beautiful as ever, and, in her own admission ‘three times her size’ when she got married three decades or so ago. Sporting the once famous blowout afro hair style, the look that quickly reminded me of the Hot Soul Singers of the Sam Jiza-Jiza Mthembu fame, Rupert Bopape’s Mahotella Queens and Hamilton Nzimande’s Izintobi Zesi Manje Manje. By me we were in for a night. ‘From me to you’, she sang, before paying tribute to the all-time African statesman Nelson Rolihlala Mandela and ‘uMama’ Albertina Sesulu who would have been 100 years old this year. The downside, she was singing to a backtrack. No band. As somebody who normally tries to give it her best, she lamented the lack of band to back her. She complained about the poor sound. For a P300.00 ticket, we deserved better. Again, it seems to go back to the organisers and the ‘budget’. Put it this way: you have been around for more than five decades, you are expected to stand throughout the show and listen to recorded music that does not necessarily stimulate your dancing nerves. This is absurd. Granted, somebody says it was a charity show, raising funds for some disadvantaged community. We have attended charity shows before deriving from them good value for our money. The sad thing is we all looked to Yvonne, and ignorantly blamed her. We also blamed the owner of the venue apparently also out of ignorance.
Whichever way, guys in showbiz should know that we have rights. We can give out our hard earned money for charity voluntarily, but we don’t have to be abused. Yvonne was a great idea to raise funds for charity, but not for robbing us. Those who know her well would attest that she always tries to give out her best, right from the days when we used to debate who between her and the late Brenda Fassie was better than the other. She would stop at nothing to give a good show. At one stage she even performed at the Regina Mundi church in Rockville, Soweto and, answering to the complaints that followed, she vowed to do it again if called upon to do so. Her exertion of herself at the Botswana Craft clearly depicted somebody who wanted to give us her best under the circumstances. Down the show, she took off her shoes and gave us her love for free, she then belted out ‘Every woman needs a man’. In a show where there were possibly three times more women than men, the song must have touched the wrong nerve in some. She then slowed down to Aretha Franklin’s 1967 all-time great: ‘You make me feel like a natural woman’, and then she was ‘burning up’. Her appeal for everyone to go down with her came nowhere nearer to the late Hugh Masekela’s appeal whenever he played Tenai. Granted, she herself went down very well.
But, at the end of it all, we wuz robbed. Promoters should pardon us if, next time around, we ask more questions before we purchase show tickets. Someone should bring Yvonne back for a real show, charity or no charity.