Zakifo Music Festival hits Durban

The fourth annual Zakifo Music Festival is hitting Durban’s shores on 25, 26 and 27 May, and promises a wide-ranging line-up of cutting-edge musicians from across the African continent and beyond. This year the festival will be spread across three iconic Durban venues – the BAT Centre, Views at Twenty5, and Blue Lagoon Beach.

Kicking off the festival on Friday night is a fundraising concert for the Nelson Mandela Foundation at the BAT Centre featuring Sekou Kouyate, a renowned kora player from Guinea, Elida Almeida, a young Cape Verdean folk singer, and 5FM’s Nick Hamman with a DJ set in between acts. Headlining the evening is South African icon Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse. This event is ticketed separately from the rest of the festival.

From there the festivities move to Views @ Twenty5 in Morningside for the rest of Friday night and Saturday night. This exceptional rooftop venue offers panoramic views of the city of Durban, the perfect backdrop for the evenings’ performances by Nasty C, DJ Lag, Flavia Coelho, Nathalie Natiembé, DJ Doowap, Oki Dub Ainu Band, K-$, Pussy Party, and by explosive Durban up-and-comers ByLwansta, Baraka and Sainty Baby.

Answering the call of the Indian Ocean, Zakifo returns to Blue Lagoon Beach on Sunday the 27th. This family-friendly final day of the festival offers local food and market stalls and a Growler Station beer tent serving Zakifo’s signature lager, made by Durban Brewing Co. The lineup for Sunday features Dub Inc, Alice Phoebe Lou, Nakhane, Guy Buttery and Kanada Narahari, Femi Koya, Siseko Pame and major international singer-songwriter Aloe Blacc. Best known for his hit singles “The Man” and “I Need A Dollar”, and for featuring on Avicii’s “Wake Me Up”, Blacc has prove himself a talented musician with an irresistible power to capture the complexities of human emotion.

Originally signed to Stones’ Throw Records, Aloe Blacc has over the years evolved his sound from hip hop inspired by the likes of Public Enemy, The Pharcyde, and De La Soul to a smooth array of pop, folk and soul paired with poetic yet incisive lyrics, huge hooks and relentless feel-good grooves.

Each year a host of satellite events, workshops, and parties linked to the festival occur in the weeks leading up to the main event. These industry-focused events act as a platform for exchanging knowledge and experiences, a necessary bridge between established industry professionals and up-and-coming artists, giving Zakifo relevance beyond the festival gates.

Zakifo aspires to strengthen ties between the cultural communities of the Indian Ocean through its sister festival, Sakifo, held each year in Réunion. Zakifo, founded by Jerome Galabert, Sipho Sithole and Andy Davis, is a member of the Igoda music festival circuit which includes Sakifo Festival in Réunion, Azgo Festival in Mozambique, Bassline Africa Day concert in Johannesburg, and Bushfire Festival in Swaziland. These festivals happen over a period of three weeks in May and June and have created an artist and festivalgoer touring circuit in the Southern African region.

“Sakifo means ‘what is needed’ in Creole,” says Galabert. “With Zakifo Durban our intention is the same. Through our world-class line-up we strive to inspire and create lasting opportunities for collaboration; cross-cultural exchanges; economic opportunities and skills development.”

“This partnership with Réunion Island has been a dream of mine. I have attended a number of music festivals internationally and there was no better choice and fit than Zakifo to bring to South Africa, particularly my home town and province. Zakifo is a destination festival, a people to people encounter and we guarantee you that over the years this festival will become part of travellers’ annual calendar coming from all over the world,” said Sipho Sithole, one of the festival partners and founder/owner of Native Rhythms.

The line up of performers this year includes:

Aloe Blacc (USA) – chart-topping soul/funk singer and songwriter. Wrote the hits “The Man” and “I Need a Dollar” and featured on Avicii’s “Wake Me Up”

Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse (RSA) – South African musical legend and funk, pop and soul artist 

Alice Phoebe Lou (RSA/Germany) – independent blues/folk artist from Cape Town, currently based in Berlin 

Dub Inc (France) – reggae/dancehall band from Saint-Éttienne; fuse classic roots reggae with dub, dancehall, ska, hip-hop and African influences 

Flavia Coelho (Brazil) – a hybrid blend of samba and bossa nova sounds and reggae and hip hop rhythms

Nasty C (RSA) – easily one of the most exciting acts on the South African hip-hop scene; born and bred in Durban, at 21 Nasty C has carved out his own niche 

DJ Doowap (RSA) – live mix DJ playing a selection of bass, dubstep and trap 

Nakhane (RSA) – SAMA award-winner and rising star in South African music 

K-$ (RSA) – plays throwback disco, funk and soul-heavy DJ sets

Femi Koya (Nigeria/RSA) – “the new face of the African Renaissance”; a rich blend of afrobeat, highlife and Sophiatown-influenced jazz 

DJ Lag (RSA) – the Gqom King; pioneer of iconic Durban house sub-genre gqom 

Elida Almeida (Cape Verde) – Cape Verdean beats fused with Latino energy 

BCUC (RSA) – “indigenous funky soul”; a politically-charged and truly South African sound

Nathalie Natiembé (Réunion) – beloved Réunion singer; creates an amalgam of rock, funk and traditional Creole music

Guy Buttery and Kanada Narahari (RSA/India) – South African guitar virtuoso and accomplished Indian sitar player; driven by their mutual curiosity in each other’s diverse musical worlds 

Sekou Kouyate (Guinea) – multi-award-winning musician; regarded as one of the world’s best kora players 

Oki Dub Ainu Band (Japan) – blending the music of the Ainu people of Japan with dub, reggae and afrobeat grooves

Siseko Pame (RSA) – ethno-soul laced with Xhosa folk harmonies, violin, and Pame’s emotive, earthy voice

Pussy Party (RSA) – an all-womxn DJ platform with a rotating lineup that exists to create a regular opportunity for female DJs and artists to practice, incubate, exchange, and expose 

The Sun Xa Experiment (RSA) – world music influenced by jazz, hip hop and traditional and ancestral sounds

Nick Hamman (RSA) – 5FM DJ and host of the Hamman Time weekday show and the 5FM Top 40

ByLwansta (RSA) – ByLwansta constructs conversational raps laden with brutal honesty and vivid story-telling, delivered in a style that emanates a soulful and mellow vigor

Sainty Baby (RSA) – Pietermaritzburg-based DJ and producer and graduate of Soul Candi Institute of Music; founder of the Food Fashion Music event and radio co-host and co-producer on Vuma FM

Baraka (RSA) – blending deep house, kwaito, jazz, future soul and world sounds with the intention to create an atmosphere of love, inviting upliftment and transformation

Zakifo would like to thank their partners The Department of Arts and Culture, Air Austral, eThekwini Municipality, Durban Tourism and Alliance Française for their continued support of the festival. 

Tickets are available via Nutickets:

R500 – 3-day weekend pass (excl. Madiba concert)

R150 – Friday pass – Views @ Twenty5

R150 – Saturday pass – Views @ Twenty5

R300 – Sunday pass – Blue Lagoon Beach

R300 – Friday Madiba concert – BAT Centre

A full event breakdown is available on

Instagram: @zakifofest

Twitter: @zakifomusikfest

Facebook: @zakifofest

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