THE much-anticipated performance by South African Motswako rapper Hip Hop Pantsula (HHP) at the Lifaqane-Mfecane Festival was ill-fated after the police closed the show due to an expired show permit.
HHP was billed to perform in a line up which also included renowned artists Thandiswa Maswai and Phuzikhemisi at the inaugural fete held at Thaba Bosiu Cultural Village last Saturday.
The organisers, Ancestral Collective, are a non-profit organisation formed to raise awareness among Africans of their history and to celebrate the continent’s rich cultures, customs and traditions.
However, according to the organisation’s Public Relations Officer Khothatso Moletsane, the police halted the event halfway-through South African songstress Mazwai’s performance due to the stipulations of the event permit.
“It was around midnight when police officers showed up and told us we had to wrap up the show at 12 midnight as our permit did not allow us to go beyond that time,” said Moletsane in an interview with the Weekender.
“We tried to beg them to allow HHP to perform just one song as we cut Thandiswa’s performance by 30 minutes but they refused to budge. “Fans started to scream and boo at the officer who took to the stage and announced that the show was over, but he never seemed to care at all and instead told them to go home as the show was over.”
He added that the “untimely” closure of the show had portrayed Ancestral Collective in a bad light as most people now thought HHP never came for the show since he did not get the chance to greet his awaiting fans.
According to Moletsane, Ministry of Police Principal Secretary, Refiloe Matekane, also tried to intervene by “asking the officers to allow HHP to perform for just a few minutes and even made several calls to no avail”.
“The festival was meant to pay tribute to Lifaqane, a time in our forgotten but very important history by paying homage to those who fought and died trying to protect our people and our land, and to get people to think about, research, and learn about this era so that we know where we come from and then know where we are headed,” he said.
“Basotho need to foster the historical collective values that brought about the formation of this nation.”
On the closure of the festival, Moletsane said: “I believe this was sabotage as I do not understand why they would not let us continue with the show as there were no riots or scuffles and the show was within a fenced compound.
“Whoever was behind that act did not sabotage Ancestral Collective but portrayed the country in a negative light as we had revelers from other countries who were also interested in learning about Lesotho’s history and how we have turned the Lifaqane chaos into celebrations.”
However, he reassured Basotho that they would organise a better show next year and would bring HHP to Lesotho again “very soon to make up for that hiccup and it will be a free show”.
On his part, police spokesperson Senior Inspector Clifford Molefe said they closed the show after the permit for the event lapsed by two hours.
“The organisers had requested a permit of 12 hours (from 10am to 10pm) and the officers compromised for two hours so they could wrap up their show,” Snr Insp Molefe said.
He added that the police could not go beyond 12 midnight in line with the dictates of the law.
“Our officers had been there throughout the event to ensure there is peace and order; they did not just show up to close the event.
“As for the PS (Matekane), he was at the festival in his personal and not government capacity. So what he did was ask for a favour which the officers were in a position to turn down according to the law which governs us,” said Snr Insp Molefe.