South Africa Hosts World's Largest Marimba and Steelpan Festival
South Africa hosted the world's largest marimba and steelpan festival July 27 and 28, with nearly 2,000 musicians from around Africa, including Botswana, Nigeria and Zimbabwe.
The festival - now in its eighth year - mixes traditional African, classical and even rap music.
"As Africans, we encourage our students also to be dancing and singing and playing at the same time, because that's when you get the full benefit of the music," said Joan Lithgow of the Education Africa International Marimba and Steelpan Festival.
Students participate in the Education Africa International Marimba and Steelpan Festival in South Africa, July 27 and 28, 2019. (Marize de Klerk/VOA)
The festival prides itself on including disadvantaged and disabled musicians, who compete on an equal footing with other musicians.
"I feel very good because people can see that deaf people can do anything," marimba player Boitumelo Lekaka said through sign language. Rose Moloi, her teacher at South Africa's Dominican School for the Deaf in Hammanskraal, translated.
"Same as the hearing people in the world, [we] can do anything. Anything. Playing marimba, all different instruments, kinds of instruments. They can do the same as the hearing people and all other people," Lekaka said.
Five-time Grammy Ballot Award nominee and American vibraphone artist Jason "Malletman" Taylor helped judge the competitions.
By Marize de Klerk