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February 11, 2011

Abdullah Ibrahim live in Cape Town


Abdullah Ibrahim. Photo courtesy .Georg.

The Cape Town International Jazz Festival is just around the corner, but you need not wait ’til March to get your soul fix: Son of the city and living jazz legend Abdullah Ibrahim is performing with Ekaya on Saturday night, February 12, at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

As a port city which saw many different people coming and going (and staying), Cape Town has long been a colourful, creolised place. Adolphus “Dollar” Johannes Brand – who was born in the Cape Flats, learnt about jazz from soldiers and sailors stationed in the city, converted to Islam (when he changed his name to Abdullah Ibrahim) and started practicing martial arts, was discovered by Duke Ellington in Zürich, went into exile in New York in 1976, and is incredibly adept at fusing jazz with traditional South African melodies – seems a fine case in point.

Ibrahim’s music is at the heart of the sound of the city: distinctly South African, distinctly Cape Town. Perhaps his most famous jazz anthem is Mannenberg, about the suburb in the Cape Flats (spelt Manenberg) to which the apartheid government moved residents of District Six in line with the Group Areas Act (a law stating that South Africans of different races couldn’t live alongside each other).

More recently, Ibrahim released the album Cape Town Revisited, an expression of his sense of deep connection to the Mother City. It includes The Mountain, a dedication to our very own natural wonder.

If you’re out and about in the city, but haven’t the time to catch the concert, why not head to the Mannenberg memorial at 21 Bloem Street (the spot where the song was recorded in June 1974), an installation of seven pipes tuned to the opening notes of the anthem.

Otherwise catch Ibrahim in concert at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Saturday night. Tickets can be bought for R180 from Computicket. Call +27 (0)83 915 8000 for more information.

Take a moment to listen to Mannenberg below.

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