The scene seems to have emerged from a new Mad Max: dressed in leather dust covers, coated with Stetson and bandanas, battalions of metal music fans advance An infernal din in the throngs of the crowd.
We are in Botswana, in Ghanzi, “the Capital of the Kalahari”. Stuck between the Desert and the Okavango Delta, this city of thirteen thousand inhabitants hosts the Winter Metal Mania Festival, the biggest event of its kind in this southern African, a country a little bigger than France but populated by only two millions of inhabitants. For two days and two nights, in last May, a thousand of metalheads, mainly from Botswana but also from Namibia and South Africa, vibrated to the concerts of twelve bands, all local except the headliner, Adorned In Ash (AIA), originally from Pretoria, South Africa.
They have also enjoyed the joys of camping under the fabulous starry sky of the Kalahari or the several activities such as arm wrestling competitions while hatching hectoliters of Canadian beer. The clash of the weekend, a march against poverty brought together all participants, who crossed the city perched on busted 4 x 4, the sound system spitting out some vintage hard-rock, in an irresistible metal/afro kermesse atmosphere. “The benefits of the festival will be used to buy clothes for the region’s poorest community” says Tshomarelo Mosaka, alias Vulture, a thirty-year-old man who plays bass in the Overthrust group and works as a policeman.
“The situations that I have to deal with in my job are those that rock’n roll talks about. It taught me that I can overcome them. Rock gives me strenght and allows me to do my job with confidence and efficiency.” Teenager, Vulture discovered metal thanks to an uncle who listened to classics like Motörhead. “This music has an immense effect on my temperament. It helps me convert the negative things I have in me into positive energy”, he continues.
The South African band, AIA, the only foreigner band of the festival, wisely await their turn at the foot of the stage while the public, overexcited by two days of drunkenness, loosens during the concert of Overthrust. Beer flows freely, the atmosphere is always peaceful, the spectators radiating literally the happiness of being there.
With wide eyes, Robyn Ferguson, AIA singer, commented: “They have a pure relationship with music. It’s in their veins!”
The appearance of maniacs dressed in sparkly funk-metal costumes cause a big sensation in the crowd. Justice, one of those galactic sappers, explains, “I’m part of the Super Powers. We are one of the two biggest fan groups of the festival. The other is the Bisons like him, Taliban”, he continues, pointing to a hilarious colossus, wearing a cartridge belt, the ammunition of which seems real. “I make my outfits out of second-hand clothes that I bought in Zambia or order in England via Internet, says Justice, 27, a graphic designer. I add all the decorations.”
When asked why he likes metal, he replies: “It makes me feel good, it makes me free. Christianity is the most widespread belief here, but I believe in rock’n’roll. It bring us all together!”
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