Pata pata is the song which has sparked my interest for South African music for the first time. Rhythm, panache and joie de vivre of this song by Miriam Makeba in 1967 were contagious at that time when I was 20. „Mama Afrika“ succeeded to hit the charts of many countries (including Germany) with this song sung in the regional language isiXhosa. This great voice of the country near the Cape of Good Hope was renowned worldwide and to me right from the beginning also well-known as a pioneer for a peaceful world. Her courageous engagement for human rights and against former politics of apartheid in South Africa impressed me. Music, chant, singing together in choirs – how can the message of a peaceful world be better communicated to people’s minds and hearts? What I sensed at that time as a kind of foreboding was bound to determine my life in the decades after Pata pata. Especially the start of the World Choir Games 2000 in Linz/Austria and soon again at the 10th edition of the world’s biggest choir competition in July 2018 in Tshwane/South Africa. It is a huge aim for me and all of us during the next months.

For Africans – and especially for the people of the fascinating country between the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean – music and dance is an element of their life embedded in their DNA. I am impressed by their devotion for singing and motion, be it due to joy or mourning. I am also fascinated by the huge range of South African music – be it typical music styles, which often tell us about certain population groups or be it creative connections between pop, rock and jazz music and styles or traditions of other parts of the world, including Europe. Of course the fantastic choirs of the country are very dear to me and have meanwhile become a synonym for the whole country. Especially the Stellenbosch University Choir inspires the audience at the World Choir Games every two years. This ensemble, founded in 1936 and the oldest of its kind in South Africa, does not lead the INTERKULTUR world ranking list of the Top 1000 by chance. And the stage show A typical night in Africa of the Kearsney College Choir from South Africa is simply breath-taking. Spectacular images, great vocal performances and outstanding wonder of natures.

But take a look, come to Tshwane and discover a country which will stay in your mind forever!

(Günter Titsch)