The passion, enthusiasm, and spiritual fervour of the 2018 edition of the much-acclaimed Gwanda International Gospel Music Festival (GIGMF) soared on the opening day of the fete and is even expected to reach newer heights tonight with various performances from Deborah Fraser, Minister Takesure Zamar, Mbungo Stars, Mathias Mhere and others.
Hordes of natives and gospel music fans who have travelled as far as South Africa rushed into the Pelandaba Stadium on Friday night as soon as it opened, clamouring for a front-row view of some of gospel music’s brightest stars from both sides of the Limpopo.
Gatherers maintained this energy throughout the evening, often rising from their seats to sing along and wave their hands in the air in harmony with the ministers.
“Today you’re not going to be crazy. You’re going to be crazy dancing for Jesus,” proclaimed local and hosting pastor as he dissected the theme, “The Walls Of Jericho Did Fall,” during artists’ performance breaks.
A traditional interdenominational gathering of the year it has become, GIGMF brought strangers together and most of them could lively engage in group dances after the awe-inspiring meet and greet sessions.
Curious bystanders hung over the terraces too, craning their necks to get a better look at several erected enormous Jumbotron screens.
Though the headliners encompassed a variety of sounds ranging from traditional gospel, psalms to contemporary Christian music, all performers shared the same goal of praising God and providing attendees with the best of times.
Taking on the stage first to celebrate their unshakeable faith was Hybrid Psalmz and they kicked off their set with Pandimire Pakaoma, a song that was characterised by Vapostori parodied dances. A typical contemporary Zimpraise from the southern region of Matabeleland, it is a group with such a gender balance that effect a balance between both male and female timbres greatly.
“You may call it a concert, some may call it a gig, but allow me to call it a night of worship,” said a lead minister with the group before he plunged the thronged stadium into a deep worship alter.
Another resident group BICC Jahunda in Praise also took their turn. They literally performed all their songs in Ndebele language but it was so resonating that even a non-speaker could feel the impact. Guess what they say is true that beautiful music transcends the language barrier.
And because the fete has become a bridge that connects Zimbabwe to South Africa, it was soon time to let the giants from another side of the river take on the stage and minister.
First to do it was the burgeoning Matsepo Mohala, who pounced on the stage with such a vigour that only worth of veterans.
“Make a holy noise and confuse the enemy,” she could scream in the middle of her stellar performance.
Despite her sparse discography, she got fans on board when she performed renditions of popular songs such as Garai Pano Jesu Anouya and Torumbidza in a fashion that got many people thinking if she is the new Rebecca Malope in the making.
After her set fans had an inside scoop moment when the big Jumbotron screens showed Big Time Strategic Group CEO and Gwanda-born Justice Maphosa baring his soul on why the festival means so much to him. In the video, Mr Maphosa, who did not make it for the festival this year said that the fete is a vow that he made to God several years ago when he delivered some of the things he wanted in his personal life.
Yet, another local group Vocal Ex, a band of comparatively young people who fuse worship songs with contemporary choruses soon overrode the ultra-solemn phase with their nerve-twitching sonic transformation. It’s that type of band which traditionalists would charge for compromising the culture of Christ with secular pop culture, but could not help but watch because they are so nice on set.
We are talking of a group of young people wearing ripped jeans, trendy footwear, men wearing braided long hair and women with baseball caps worn backwards. Alas, as eccentric as this may sound, the group got our spirits up. They delivered a refreshing experience which most of us would cherish.
Friends in Praise, Pastor Neyi Zimu and Omega, took the stadium through a beautiful praise session and perhaps the highlight of their set was when Neyi, in the most sincere way, apologised on behalf of his country for instigating brutal acts such as Xenophobia.
“Whatever my country has done for you in the past. I’ve come to apologise,” he said and moved on to urge Africa to unite as we are all God’s children.
Among the songs the duo performed was This Is My Story, Murena, and Reign Jesus.
And in a true headlining act fashion, Dr Tumi finally came through and wound up the Friday session with his heartfelt psalms. A gentle mister he is, he led a solemn performance that had so many fan reflections, building it time and again with songs like You Are Here, Jesus Song and Wafika Kimi.
The aftermath of his performance would then witness a massive fireworks display with Pastor Mhizha telling people to proclaim that The Walls of Jericho Did Fall!
Gwanda International Gospel Music Festival ends tonight and there is better to be expected of it as the final day has a detailed account of leaving revellers clamouring for more.
Hallelujah Magazine is committed to publishing reliable, trusted, quality and independent Christian journalism. Our journalism is free from commercial bias and is not influenced by wealthy people, politicians, clerics or shareholders. We value our readers’ feedback, suggestions and opinions. Have something to add to the story? Share it in the comments below.