Reflections: Emotional and celebratory gathering at inaugural music festival, Unity On The Square, Day of Reconciliation, Cape Town, December 16, 2021
There was a palpable sense of emotion and celebration at the inaugural music festival, Unity On The Square, presented on Day of Reconciliation, a public holiday, in Cape Town’s beautiful Greenmarket Square (which usually operates as a market). Ticking along, almost two years into the pandemic, with the current rampage of the Omicron variant; things are kind of tense. Many live events have been cancelled or postponed. Theatre shows have shut down because company members have tested positive for the virus. As the experts tell us, fresh air and ventilation is the best bet at the moment. I know of many people who decided not to go today because they are afraid to go anywhere and do not want to risk health conditions. I get that and respect all. I can say, that it was wonderful to be present at this music festival and connect with people that I haven’t seen in a long time, such as veteran artist Terry Fortune. Yes, we kept our masks on- except for a quickie photo. In the Rona fugue, we need to mark the moment and document that we were there. It wasn’t a dream. We did not see this festival streamed online. We were present and together.
A big shout-out to the producer of Unity on The Square – Loukmaan Adams. Together with partners such as The City of Cape Town, MTN and Jive Cooldrinks, he pulled the festival together. There was the constant threat of closure because of Rona and there is always the Cape Town weather situation hovering in the background. It was windy today and cold – for us (I wore two down jackets and scarf) but sublime to be in the heritage Greenmarket Square and to be treated to wonderful music. Loved it all. Loukmaan is a visionary in conceptualising this festival during the pandemic. It meant that artists got paid. Many have had their income streams totally decimated. In addition to the financial, the day was time of affirmation- that the arts are essential and that creatives continue to make their work and that there is an audience, in attendance. Looking forward, to the future: There is the huge potential to build this festival into an epic summer music happening. I can envisage pop-up lounges and sections with couches and umbrellas. Picture that. Ahhh. Today, seats were limited and chairs staggered far apart. I can imagine, the future, when the square will be packed with tourists and visitors from out of town, congregating in the square in Cape Town’s CBD. Put this on your itinerary for summer 2022.
❇ Image credits: © TheCapeRobyn/Robyn Cohen, December, 16, 2021.