The Sunday Mail
From December 29 up to the early hours of January 1, the resort town of Victoria Falls was bustling with activity as the famous Vic Falls Carnival took center stage.
Despite numerous noticeable hiccups, the iconic New Year festival still managed to wow the thousands of revellers who were in attendance.
Before the first train horn signaling the beginning of the carnival was sounded, South African headliners were dominating the line-up, something that would change during the course of the event.
While most people were looking forward to seeing their favourite big international artistes on stage, it was the local talent that ended up pulling the greater weight of the New Year extravaganza.
From the first day right up to the last minute of the party, it was evident that Zimbabwean acts had come prepared to challenge their more internationally popular counterparts on the big stage.
The Train and Bush Party
Without a doubt, this is one of the most popular elements of the Vic Falls Carnival and despite the first train taking off with a few people, as heavy rains started falling with the departure time approaching, the second and third trains were packed to the rafters.
Despite the laid back electronic tunes that were being played by the resident train DJ, the ride was full of energy and excitement.
On arrival at the bush location, numerous DJs took turns to entertain the crowd with the tempo turning up a notch when T Bass took to the stage and started dishing out popular Amapiano jams.
Hot on his heels came another local player, Rayan Synth who did not hesitate to throw in some local numbers including the “Ngaibake” anthem which was met with large roars from the crowd.
By the time DJ Maphorisa came on, the atmosphere was already charged up and all he had to do was add more flames to an already combustive scene.
The South African superstar started off on a slow tempo, but he was not about to be outdone by his predecessors and managed to send the dancefloor into a craze when he started to hammer in on his major hits.
While the hit maker managed to steal the limelight, the local acts held their own, proving that they were not just there as mare supporting acts, a trend that continued right to the last day.
On the second day, it was Ngoma Ingoma which set the ball rolling at Victoria Falls Farm School, entertaining the first few patrons who were trickling into the venue.
The party then exploded to life when Jah Signal came on and those who might have thought that a Zim dancehall act would find it difficult to impress an international audience were to be proven wrong.
The chanter who is popular for his energy and jumping antics had the revelers eating from his hands a few songs into the set and the majority of the crowd had moved closer to the stage by the time he was finished.
Another interesting act on the night was DJ Doowap whose set had a mixture of numerous genres.
The DJ would sometimes abandon the decks and join her dancing crew, displaying high-octane moves much to the delight of those being entertained.
Djembe Monks then came and displayed what a semi-live set should be like, spicing up the event with their exceptional tribal house mixes.
After the boys from Bulawayo’s set, Shekhinah took to the stage and just as the party was getting heated up, a heavy downpour sent many people scurrying for cover while just a few stayed behind to dance in the rain.
The rains stopped after a few minutes and the front of the stage got packed once again with the “Suited” singer managing to get the merrymakers back into the party groove.
With AKA having been side-lined from the original line-up, organisers seem to have made the right decision by replacing him with SA based sensation, Sha Sha, who came on and also managed to have a good day at the office.
New Year’s Eve
On the final night of the event, local artistes literally took over the event and made it theirs.
While the first few acts including Kyllo, KG and Flying Bantu set the tone for the New Year’s countdown, it was Tamy Moyo who really got the party started.
Her set was full of life, with the energy being transferred to the crowd which sang along to some of her more popular tunes.
Botswana’s DJ Colastraw came and turned it up a notch with a set that was heavily loaded with the trending Amapiano sounds.
Despite being one of the best performers on the night, it was the local flag that was to fly the highest on the night from the moment Colastraw left the stage.
With Prince Kaybee failing to make it to the venue after falling sick at the hotel, ExQ was thrown into the fray as a surprise artiste.
Despite forgetting to take people through the countdown before the stroke of midnight, his set was vibrant with his dancers giving the crowd something to cheer about.
After he left the stage, as explosive situation was brewing as the crowd was getting restless as they were still expecting Prince Kaybee to show up.
Jason Le Roux jumped on stage and had to endure a few missiles being thrown at him, but that was to be short-lived as the veteran DJ managed to quickly grab their attention.
While many people are used to seeing Le Roux on an EDM tip, he displayed his vast knowledge of other genres as he gave the crowd a little bit of everything.
After managing to get the party back on track, the crowd had to clap for him as he handed the reigns to Raydizz who carried on in the same vein.
The celebrations continued up to around 4am on the first day of 2020.
In an interview with The Sunday Mail Society Vic Falls Carnival Spokesperson Darryn Lee said they had record breaking numbers of people attending the event.
“We have had the highest attendance across the three days in all nine years of the Carnival and although we had rain during the event, the attendees still carried on the festivities in and around town,” said Lee.
“The major highlight for us was seeing so many locals coming through to support the carnival, as well as being able to support African, and Zimbabwean talent in the process. The Carnival is about African music and talent, and this year we got to showcase it once again.”
He said that they had a few challenges which included the rain which caused some minor technical difficulties and artist cancellations due to logistics or illness.
“At the last minute we had to replace AKA due to reasons out of our control. We did everything we could to ensure AKA joined the carnival as planned but unfortunately we could not accommodate his requests over and above the initial contract and had to make the hard decision to cancel his performance.
“We managed to pull a rabbit out of a hat at the last minute and secure Zimbabwe’s own songstress, Shasha, who wowed the crowds on the night.
“We are just as disappointed that Prince Kaybee couldn’t make his performance but unfortunately he was not well enough to perform and a doctor was called to assist him. He spent the New Year’s in his hotel room at Elephant Hills Hotel recovering.”
Lee added that they will be finding a bigger venue for the 10th anniversary edition of the Vic Falls Carnival.
“For the 10th anniversary edition this year, we are going to look for a bigger venue which will also allow smoother logistics, as well as a bigger stage and VIP area.
“We are also going to be launching the 10th edition a lot earlier this year with a global international act on the line-up to celebrate a decade of the carnival.”