For the month of September, Gugs grooved to the sounds of great international and local jazz musicians every Sunday as part of the Jazz Heritage Festival hosted by the increasingly popular Jazz in the Native Yards initiative.
The township, which has decided to wear its apartheid appointed Native Yard street names as a badge to indicate its role in the struggle, jived to the likes of Rotterdam-based veteran Paul van Kemenade, local heroes such as Shane Cooper, Soisoi Gqeza, Louis Moholo and Kesivan Naidoo playing in their backyard, while young Etuk Ubong laid down the licks from Lagos and S’bu Mkhize brought Durban’s heat to the Cape at NY138.
Gugulethu is a township that has nurtured a number of South Africa’s jazz legends, such as Stompie Mavi and Ringo Madlingozi. The festival is aimed at “embracing African Jazz culture and creating a platform for upcoming local artists to show their talent,” says Jazz in the Native Yards co-founder, Luvuyo Kakaza.
Kakaza, who, together with business partner Koko Nkalashe reached into his own pockets to start the initiative to bring jazz back to its roots, said they wanted to create a place where people from the township could socialise and hear good music without having to travel to the city centre.
Since the Jazz in the Native Yards started playing in various Gugs venues in 2013, it has also become a hit with tourists and jazz heads from the suburbs.
It is also creating jobs in the form of event security and provides Nomhle Zondani from Township Wines, which is making wine appreciation popular in the beer-drinking townships, a space at which to sell her wines.
Kakaza said Concerts SA sponsors the venue as one of their objectives is to promote live music venues in the townships and rural areas.