By Charlotte Lobe
We need to recalibrate and reengineer MACUFE as a real platform of the promotion and celebration of our culture and heritage. The original idea of Mangaung African Cultural festival (MACUFE) was to celebrate our cultural heritage by attracting local and international artists in various fields of creative arts.
The original Macufe, not the one contest in courts , appreciated that Free State province share borders with six provinces at the exclusion of Limpopo and the Western Cape and a road infrastructure that is connected to the parts of South Africa. The Free State cultural heritage is thus influenced by cross border, making it boiling pot of popular culture.
The original Macufe was launched in 1997 by Free State provincial government to celebrate this rich heritage .It was conceptualised as a self-sustainability. Of course, government would still play a role in providing support to Macufe as an initiative and ensure that it retains original founding disciplines such as music, performing arts ,fashion , crafts and sport.
When the original was conceptualised there was no cultural festival that expressed rich culture of indigenous South Africans.
This made Macufe unique and it became the pride of everyone in the Arts industry. Most popular and successful festivals in South Africa at the time were Eurocentric and to be frank undermining the African culture heritage. This made macufe not only Mangaung Festival but an African cultural festival .The original Macufe conceptualised by a team led by Comrade Webster Mfebe as the then MEC of Sports ,Arts,Culture and Recreation became more than an arts festival , from onset the idea was to stage a powerful event that would recognise and celebrate indigenous African cultural heritage. The original Macufe disrupted the status quo of a Eurocentric arts festival phenomena and brought a much needed transformation to the industry. The original Macufe was bold and transformative at so many levels , notwithstanding challenges of inclusion of Free State artists, it was a great success .It became a pride beyond the border of the Free State.
The Macufe cup became the last edition to the Macufe show in 2003.The idea behind the macufe cup was to broaden the scope of the Festival and include other aspects of the Free State heritage .The consideration at the time was that soccer was a big part of our heritage, specific reference was made to how Bloemfontein Celtic FC became the pride of the people of Free State when mainly it won the Mainstay cup in 1986 under slogan : ‘Phunyan Selesle ban ana o shebile’.Bloemfontein Celtic became a symbol of our soccer heritage and Macufe cup was showcasing this heritage. Kaizer Chiefs FC was identified as an appropriate opponent also because in context of this heritage Celtic fan have always despised chiefs, they nicknamed them ‘Mahippy’ by ‘they’ I am being polite ,let me be frank ‘we’ called them mahippy . The cup was only not about players , supporters were huge part of it. We went to the Free State stadium to showcase our culture as Celtic fans, Bloemfontein Celtic was our popular culture .
This culture was stolen from us when the Celtic PSL status was sold to the alter of financial expediency and convenience facilitated by the PSL itself through Ntate Irvin Khosa who said on a national TV there was nothing he could do when the guy approached him. This was despite the fact that Mamosina Makume Leshabana was blocked from buying the team and retaining its identity and history.
The Free State Government without consideration to how macufe cup was conceptualised is now endorsing this thuggery by bringing Royal AM FC to Macufe. How insensitive can anyone be? It is like endorsing theft and parading the thief as insensitive as a quotation commonly attributed to Marie Antoinette ‘Qu’ils mangent de la brioche’ translated as ‘let them eat the cake. ‘These words were uttered in the mist of bread shortage by French peasants.
The idea of bringing Royal AM FC to Bloemfontein is an insult of our culture heritage. It is like you are telling Bloemfontein Celtic fans to go to the hottest place where ice cannot exist. Free State Government show a bit of compassion and understand the history behind the original Macufe!!!
The views are of the author Lobe High Commissioner of South Africa in Singapore