By Edward Tsumele

There is no doubt that the Cape Town International Festival (CTIJF), even as a debate raged over the years as to whether it must continue to market itself as a jazz festival, when in fact is a broad music festival, that it is an important event on the South African entertainment calendar.
This event has over the years drawn many music lovers to this coastal city. Some have even scheduled their holidays to coincide with this major event. And yes, those that attended this festival when it was known as the North Sea Jazz Festival, taking its name from its bigger cousin in The Netherlands, would have noticed that it has changed from being a festival that featured mainly jazz, to a festival that is inclusive of other genres, such as pop music and even kwaito over the years.
I attended both the North Sea Jazz Festival and the Cape Town Jazz Festival a couple of times, and I have personally witnessed its metamorphosis, becoming more inclusive and accessible to a broad spectrum of musical tastes. Whether that is a good thing or not, depends on each individual’s mindset. For me, it does not matter whether Abdullah Ibrahim has come down the stage to give way to TKZee for example.
If I do not like that stage, I simply move to the next stage where my cup of tea is served. That is the beauty that comes with the ability to choose who you want to watch in performance when there are several stages catering for different music tastes at a festival. But am sure jazz purists will not agree with me on this point. Let us agree to disagree this time around. It is Okay.
However, the good news is this: This popular music festival is back after the disruptions of Covid-19 in 2020. This should come as a relief to many of us, especially when the news first broke out that Abdullah Ibrahim had withdrawn from the line-up in 2022, a news item that made many of us start taking the outbreak of Covid-19 at that early stage seriously. Thereafter the entire festival a week later was scrapped.
The reality of the danger we faced from Covid-19 became even more real at that stage.
With this confirmation by the organisers this week, fans of the festival) can finally breathe a sigh of relief. Africa’s Grandest Gathering and South Africa’s original and much-loved jazz fest – the Cape Town International Jazz Festival – will take place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), on Friday 17th March and Saturday 18th March 2023.
Back to entertain after a three-year break thanks to successive lockdowns because of COVID-19, the Cape Town International Jazz Festival (CTIJF) will continue its 21st-anniversary celebrations that were necessarily postponed in 2020, with a line-up, look and feel and several surprises, that celebrate its roots but with a nod to the future.
The exciting announcement was conveyed by Judith Sephuma, South Africa’s Queen of Afro-jazz who is thrilled to be returning to Cape Town to entertain festival goers.
In Judith’s words: “The Cape Town International Jazz Festival holds a special place in my heart. I performed at the very first one and am happy to be at this, the 21st event, to share my music with Festinos again. There has been a definite gap in the music festival calendar without the CT Jazz Fest these past couple of years, so I am delighted it is back, and it promises to be amazing – as usual. I hope to see you all there.”
“But it’s not all business as usual. The 2023 CTIJF, known for its scintillating and eclectic mix of jazz and jazz-related music, will take account of the fans’ desires to spend more time enjoying and appreciating the artists that are on offer and the music they love, as well as upping the ‘festival’ feeling with an expanded offering of ‘experiences’ – more details to come.
In 2023, there will be three stages hosting more than 21 music performances. The stages for 2023, are:
Rosies, which jazz purists will appreciate for the exceptional audio quality of the acoustics complementing the performers’ sound.
Kippies retains its position in the main Hall on the Ground floor and will be the place to groove to more familiar names, whilst the open-air Downtown stage (formerly Mannenberg) will be the place to discover new beats, names, and jams.
Another change the festival announced, is that highly respected music impresario, Billy Domingo, the Festival Director for many years, has retired from espAfrika, the organisers of CTIJF. In tribute, the programming of the 2023 event will pay homage to Billy’s love of promoting African artists, and the CTIJF’s reputation as a place to discover incredible talent.
Newly appointed CEO of espAfrika, Amit Makan, had this to say about the eagerly anticipated return of the CTIJF: “The CTIJF has grown to embody the diverse talent and star power of South African artists, whilst also providing a platform for residents to experience international music performers they would not usually be able to see.
“Growing this brand and taking it forward into the next phase of its success is a challenge, one I relish, even with these interesting times we are living in,” said the organisers in a media statement.
“It is music artists, like the sublime Judith Sephuma who has today lent her considerable support to this next event, whom I wish to thank, as they make what we do a pleasure and worthwhile. Without you, there would be no festival for the fans to enjoy, but together, we are a powerful match made for listening and experiential bliss. Thank you, Judith, and to every artist who has ever performed here and to those yet to come.”
In keeping with the Afri-Futurism theme for the 21st anniversary and looking to the digital future, the CTIJF has partnered with Ticketmaster who will provide the ticketing solution, and the festival will also launch a brand-new audience engagement platform (AEP) and Festino experience app. –

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