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A love for Darfur

So this is how it’s going to go down: Artist A comes in and says a bit about why he or she is here and why the audience is here, performs a couple of tracks and then we run with the celeb-studded public service announcements and hey presto! We have raised awareness about the plight of the people in Darfur!

Well, that’s sort of how it went down at the Bassline on Saturday.

Organised by Tumi Molekane of Tumi and the Volume, a host of South Africa’s top hip-hop and R&B artists hoped to shed more light on an issue of gross human rights violations — just one problem, though: the R100 entrance fee limited who was going to be let in on this awareness campaign.

R100 at the Bassline is usually reserved for international artists and such. A R50 entrance fee is a sure-fire way to get the bums on seats (which reminds me: Who came up with the dumb idea of putting tables and chairs on the dance floor?). Do the math: Would you rather have 20 people come and pay R100, or have 50 people pay R50? Seem this wasn’t done … The result was a poorly attended event for a good cause.

Beside the entrance fee, there are other factors that can ensure an auspicious event. How you structure a show, for one. As much as it pains me to criticise such an intended good deed, I think organisers of these shows need to learn that you can’t just ride on a good cause and present a below-par show.

There was quite a number of random performers who weren’t on the bill who seemed to be trying their luck with us, namely Lois, a former Pop Stars contestant and one of the lead singers on the now defunct Afro Z. After her cover of India.Arie’s Video, it felt like I was at high-school talent show, not at an event for which I had forked out a hundred bucks. Unacceptable! The number of random performers — some of their names escape me, naturally — resulted in headliners such as Tumi and Volume and 340ml performing at 2am in the morning when most of us were downing our last drinks, about to head out. Sadly, my companion was one such person and refused to stay any longer.

At least it was for a good cause …