Swaziland’s Bushfire Festival: A Cultural Burst of Diversity Fire

Written by Karen Mwendera

The bushfire festival celebrated its 10th anniversary over a period of 3 days. Guests from over 58 different countries from around the world travelled to the Kingdom of Swaziland to celebrate this burst of cultural and musical diversity. In an area filled with people from different places and of different races, one cannot resist the urge to appreciate all kinds of beauty.

One thing I noticed immediately was the number of interracial relationships. Not just couples, but friendships as well. Dark skin vs. light skin had truly fallen because melanin honey’s could be seen paired up with caramel coated blonde blue eyed men and vice versa. Coming from a country that came out of apartheid and is still dealing with social media racist rants, it's quite foreign to see how well people of different ethnicities can get along and not just seeing it from the media’s perspective.

During the festival I had a conversation with a Norwegian fellow that gave me an epiphany of the impact of the uprising Natural African movement that is taking place in our cultures and in the media. He asked me why I had braids on and whether or not I felt imprisoned by them. And I said “no it’s just a protective hairstyle.” My first reaction was to get offended, but after thinking about it, it had me realize what we as Black Africans have right now. Not only is this natural hair, dark skin and pan African movement being embraced by Africans themselves, but even the non-Africans are embracing it.

As social beings we teach others how to treat us. And maybe it's not because of outbursts of Pan African movements across social media but if we continue to show the world about who we truly are and are held in its grasp of what we call Melanin God levels. The world in return embraces it for you.

As a woman who is also part of the aphrodisiac and natural hair sisterhood, it has been such a journey to get my hair to where it is now. Soft, thick and most important manageable. To the dreaded men and ladies I say kudos to you. I have noticed a number of Caucasians also joining or being part of this dread life movement. And as much as people may rant about how white folks should try to be like black folks, it cultural appropriation for Africans does not clash with the ideals of skin colour. I see it as people who love certain cultures and are just trying to embrace it! I mean the reason why racism exists is because of people who could not embrace other cultures. And Bush Fire allows for that to occur in a festival of different ranges of people.

Bushfire is a place where Africans, Caucasians, Asians and Europeans can come together and appreciate one another's cultures.

Bushfire is the fire that blazes where the music genres become the pot that stirs different groups together.

Bushfire is a place where the sky is in comparison with the blue eyed blonde hair female who can drink from the same cup as the rooted dark skinned dreaded female.

Bushfire is a place where racism does not exist and is not welcomed.

Bushfire is a place where the European woman can be seen intimately dancing with the African man.

Bushfire is the place to enter and centre yourself on early mornings and late night instruments and percussions. You are awoken by the rhythm of the beat, initially the idea is to bring out everyone’s inner fire.

Bush fire brought the fire.

A cultural burst of a diversity desire.


Based in South Africa, Karen Mwendera is a eNCA journalist, poet, video producer, and photographer interested in  empowering Africans through beautiful and real stories.

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