The second largest festival in the world is bringing together a storm of African stars to the Bouregreg stage this year.
Rabat’s Mawazine Festival has announced that “the best of the African scene will be once again on the mythical Bouregreg stage.”
Opening the festival on Friday, June 19, is South African band Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness (BCUC). The seven-person group mixes the indigenous sounds of their country with funk, hip hop, and rock influences for an eclectic and experimental style, which they describe as “afropsychedelic.”
BCUC are known for their dramatic performances, which move the audience “both physically and emotionally.”
Saturday, June 22, promises another high-energy performance, with the Kokoko collective taking the stage. The group brings together artists from Kinshasa, Congo, who are known for turning unlikely objects into instruments to create their electronic sound: One string guitars, typewriters, and water bottles, just to name a few.
Next up is South African rapper Sho Madjozi, who has taken her Xitsonga and Swahili music global in an unprecedented way. All her tracks are upbeat, simple, and danceable, and Sho Madjozi is all about staying true to her roots and is committed to neo-pan-Africanism.
Sunday, June 23, will see Kery James take the stage, a French rapper born in Guadeloupe to Haitian parents. James, who has been dominating the French rap scene since his first release in 1992 at just 15, will perform his latest album “J’rap Encore,” released last year.
A week of jazz, blues, and rap
On Monday, June 24, African Amazons will perform. The all-female group gathers 12 West African musicians using their star power to campaign for women’s rights. They deliver their message in French, English, and Mandinka using traditional African styles mixed with funk and jazz. The group includes Grammy-winning Angelique Kidjo, Mariam Doumbia of the legendary duo Amadou and Mariam, and international pop star Nneka.
The following night, French blues trio Delgres will rock the Bouregreg stage. Although influenced by Mississippi Delta blues, Delgres holds their Guadeloupean roots at the heart of their music, with the vocals all sung in Creole. Their songs explore cultural and political history in the Caribbean, with frequent tributes to freedom fighters.
On Wednesday, June 26, Congolese rapper Youssoupha will take the stage. The Francophone artist is known for his conscious style of rap, often focusing on his youth and life in the suburbs of Paris.
On Thursday, June 27, renowned American saxophonist Kamasia Washington is up. Washington’s progressive music aims to bring jazz to young audiences by mixing in elements of hip hop and R&B. Although only having released his first LP in 2015, Washington has already received wide acclaim and collaborated with artists such as Kendrick Lamar and John Legend.
Closing weekend, voodoo funk, and French rap
Friday, June 28, will see the Togolese singer Peter Solo and his group Vaudou Game take the stage. The group combines voodoo rhythms, raw afro-funk, and soul, with a heavy influence from the musicians of these genres who marked African music in the 1970s. Peter Solo’s voodoo upbringing in Togo and his ancestry is central to the group’s music.
On Mawazine’s final night, Saturday, June 29, French rapper of Congolese origin Koba LaD will perform. At just 19, Koba LaD’s achievements are remarkable. His latest album, VII, released in late 2018, has already been certified gold and his music videos have amassed millions of hits on YouTube. Koba LaD is already a force to be reckoned with in the French rap game.
Mawazine, a festival in Rabat with six venues, will take place from June 21 to June 29 and is organized by Maroc Cultures under the patronage of King Mohammed VI. Having drawn over 2.5 million attendees in recent years, Mawazine is the second largest music festival in the world, after Donauinselfest in Vienna, and the largest festival in Africa.
The festival brings in artists from countries all over the world as well as highlighting local Moroccan musicians. Last year, the festival saw major international acts perform such as Martin Garrix, Bruno Mars, Luis Fonsi, and The Weeknd.
The festival lists the democratization of culture in Morocco as one of its initiatives and provides free access to 90% of its shows each year.