For over two decades Monwabisi Beach, in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, has been home to the Western Cape annual gathering of Rastas and Reggae Music lovers. A place where the Rastafarian community would trod from far and near to showcase their culture and livity [lifestyle] through food, indigenous herbs, crafts and music. An event that accorded the Rastafarian community to mingle and network and get together with live acts and music being the order of the day. The event, dubbed Monwabisi Reggae Sunsplash gained popularity over the years and became the mecca of reggae gigs in Cape Town, with every Rasta or Reggae artist making a point to trod there at least once in their lifetime. The popularity also brought scrutiny from the authorities and locals and soon it was notorious for the smoking of Ganja, overshadowing the real objectives of the gathering, which is a music festival just like any other.
In 2011, Monwabisi Beach Reggae Sunsplash seem to have had its last run and was to be the last staged event. For three years the Festival did not take place apparently due to Mal administration and various undocumented reasons. The year 2015 saw the event making a come back, with a bang! It boasted a stellar line up of local and international acts, including Ras Iqulah from Jamaica, Ras Haitrm from Mozambique, Born Afrikan from Malawi. Cape Town’s finest bands and artists like The Rudimentals, Zion Roots, Sons of Selassie, Dread Kings and Black Dillinger added to the line up. The stage was set – ‘ To show South Africa that Rastafarianism is not about Ganja Smoking’ explained Ras Abba Camel, the Marketing Director for the event organizer, THC Investments. He further intoned that The Monwabisi Beach Reggae Sunsplash is about promoting local musicians, promoting domestic tourism, and promoting small businesses and job creation.”
But some local artists and committee members who were part of the event last year feel that they are not being promoted nor respected.
That is when a break-away organising committee was formed and in 2016 there are two clashing Monwabisi Beach Reggae festival planned for the same weekend.
The Voice of the Western Province [VOWP] a registered NG0 which has as its aim – of collective security in propagating the Rasta struggle with an executive formed by the members of 35 houses or mansions that are in the western province excluding only one, Mount Paran [which excluded itself]. The VOWP was very instrumental in reviving the Festival last year in 2015. Through a year long series of meetings with local authorities and Councillors, they eventually were accorded a meeting with the Provincial Government to request authorisation to continue hosting the historic Festival.
Enter Ras Moses.
Moses met with the VOWP and was to become the mediator between the VOWP and the government organs to assist the Rastas with the facilitation of proceedings. He was the best person for the job as he was well placed with good contacts. Indeed the festival was reinstated in 2015. THC Investments was established, headed by Moses, as the main event organiser for the now Monwabisi Beach Reggae Legends Sunsplash.
Allegations now surfaced that some artists, mostly local artists, did not get paid for their performances last year. Those who did, were bold enough to confront the organisers and demand their due fee. There are a lot of disgruntled artist who are not happy with how the event was rendered, citing lack of management and fraud, from the part of the organisers.
The VOWP then decided to break away and host the event this year without the THC. They went ahead and secured the required authorisation from the Ward Councilor and the local authorities and set the date for Monwabisi Heritage Festival, 26-27 November 2016 with the line up yet to be announced.
Soon after, another poster surfaced of The Monwabisi Beach Reggae Legends Sunsplash, curated by THC Investments and Paran Arts Culture; 25-27 November 2016, with Lutan Fyah as the headline act. The line up included most, if not all of last year’s acts with the inclusion of Nkulee Dube.
Some radical artists took to social media to call for a boycott of the THC event, citing that the Khayelitsha community was being disrespected as most of the local artists were excluded in the line up and that the organisers [Paran Arts Culture] are not even from the Khayelitsha municipality. They are willing to block the event by even going through legal channels.
THC then reissued a revised flyer indicating – ‘Local Bands, Performing MC’s and Selektahs backed by Azania Band’, and the headliners remain in tact.
MzansiReggae reached out to THC investments for clarification and to confirm if indeed the allegations are true, but unfortunately there was no response yet at the time of writing.
We hope that the differences will be set aside and the dispute [if any] be resolved for this historic event to forge ahead for more years to come. This is the soul of Monwabisi beach. This is one place for family gatherings, Rastafarians, Youths, different mansions, Reggae artists and Reggae Music. It has been taking place of over two decades. Its about the people.
For the Love of Reggae.
Monwabisi Beach Reggae Festival – 2011
Ras Haitrm – Monwabisi Beach Reggae Festival 2015