Folklore Festival 2023

Sat Sep 16, 10:00 - Sat Sep 16, 22:00

National School of The Arts



The Folklore Festival returns for another year of a vibrant celebration of African identity, culture, customs, and heritage on the 16th of September 2023 at the National School of the Arts in Braam Park, Johannesburg. 

The kid friendly festival taking place over Heritage Month promises an unforgettable experience, exploring a pan African offering of music, literature, crafts and food for the whole family. A music concert on the main stage, workshops, a book fair on the storyteller’s stage, a kids area with drumming circles, play time singing and a safe place to leave your kids to play and learn - not forgetting traditional dancers off stage, making for the best sensorial cultural experience in Johannesburg.


The first artists announced, who will be setting the stage and your souls ablaze and bringing you contemporary folk fusion at the second annual Folklore Festival 2023 this year are: The electrifying poet, rapper and afro-centric Sho Madjozi (SA), ‘The Voice’ Vusi Mahlasela (SA), who is set to release his 8th studio album ‘Umoya this September, the enchanting Thandeka Mfinyongo (SA), The uhadi, mbira, percussive trio with sis Lungiswa Plaatjies known as Ancient Voices (SA). From Kenya this year, The Folklore Festival is excited to share an artist that fuses the Nyatiti (a genre of music and an 8-stringed instrument called Luo lyre) into modern sounds: Makadem (Kenya) ft. Eddie Grey, a visionary and trailblazer in the Jazz and fusion scene in East and Central Africa. Representing the heritage of Zimbabwe, Josh Meck will share a project celebrating the icons of music from his home country, immersing you in a symphony of cultural richness. Lastly, but definitely not least, is South African advocate for World Music; DJ Nicky B, who will be returning for a daytime set, infusing the air with infectious beats and irresistible melodies. 

Early bird tickets available from R80 for kids, R100 for adults at 50% discount until the 16th oAugust 2023. 

The Folklore Festival is curated by the multi-ward winning storyteller and creative artist Pilani Bubu who is Founder & Festival Director. "In the heart of our collective existence lies a vibrant tapestry of human expression known as Folklore. It weaves together the soulful essence of a people, an intricate web of traditional wisdom, customs, and captivating tales cherished by generations past. Whispers carried on the winds of time, where words morph into dances, proverbs sing through melodies, and laughter echoes in the form of jokes. Such artistry, captured across diverse mediums, reflects the pulse of life within a community. Folklore is this collective documentation of art forms passed through generations by word of mouth." She says. 

"This festival prides itself in being a conduit for inter-generational dialogue, indigenous knowledge sharing, and the important documentation and preservation of African folklore as it re-defines itself through time and instilling a stronger sense of identity in ourselves as Africans.” 

Folklore Festival 2023 welcomes the following artists to folklore community…

?? Vusi Mahlasela: The Voice, is Back! ??

Vusi Mahlasela, revered as "The Voice" of South Africa, celebrated for his distinct, powerful voice and his poetic, optimistic lyrics. With an illustrious career, Vusi has enchanted the world with seven mesmerizing studio albums, a testament to his extraordinary artistry. He’s collaborated with icons like Warren Haynes on "Soulshine" and the Dave Matthews Band on the heartrending anthem "Every Day." A luminary on global stages like Live 8 and Live Earth, as well as gracing the stage of the Nelson Mandela's historic inauguration in 1994.d In 2012, the prestigious SAMA Awards celebrated his profound contributions with a lifetime achievement honor. Now, the anticipation rises as Vusi prepares to unveil his highly-awaited album, "Umoya," set to be released in late September. This extraordinary and deeply personal work marks Vusi’s first studio album of new songs in 13 years. The eagerly anticipated set was recorded at Flame Studios at Constitution Hill and produced by multiple Grammy Award winner JB Arthur. Working with a small crew of young musicians - several of whom are graduates of Vusi’s own music development foundation - Umoya is a welcome return to Vusi’s folk music roots. The Voice is Back! 

Sho Madjozi: South Africa's Global Trailblazer 

Step into the vibrant world of Sho Madjozi, where African heritage dances with cosmopolitan flair. This multi-award-winning artist has ignited the world's stage, captivating hearts and minds with her inimitable fusion of Tsonga, English, and Swahili languages, Gqom beats, Afro-pop rhythms, and bold fashion statements. With her chart-topping tracks and unmatched energy, Sho Madjozi is a force of nature that will leave you breathless. She will also be participating in our Book Fair sharing her children's book: ‘ShoMa & The Stars’.

Discover the green cham of Thandeka Mfinyongo & with Ancient Xhosa voices


The stage is set for a captivating experience as diverse sounds across the continent are spotlighted From Thandeka Mfinyongo's vocals and mastery of uhadi and umrhubhe with the mesmerizing uhadi duo; Ancient Voices, take the stage with their enchanting blend of African Indigenous Instruments and vocal harmony featuring Kim Masala on Mbira and Percussion. 

Makadem: The NyatitiNess Rises 

Experience the hypnotic rhythm of the Nyatiti as Makadem, the talented Nyatiti musician from Kenya, takes the stage Makadems nyatiti music is basically an Afrofusion style of music - a contemporary African music of Luo traditional music intertwined with afro pop and other popular world beats. The man sings in Dholuo his mother tongue ,Swahili (a popular East Afrikan language) and a very Africanized English where he tells great Nyatiti tales of mainly day to day life in afrika.Accompanied by the jazz virtuoso, Eddie Grey, this fusion of The Nyatiti is a genre of music and an 8 stringed instrument ,a Luo lyre , plucked with both hands from different sides producing a rhythmic trance sound accompanied by vocals from the Nyatiti player.

Josh Meck: A Bass Virtuoso 

Let the award-winning jazz/world music artist, Josh Meck, lead you on a musical odyssey like no other. With his unmatched fusion of Zimbabwean traditional rhythms and jazz elements, his performance promises to leave you spellbound.

On the decks South Africa’s 26-year advocate for world and folk music Nicky B

Returning to the festival for a daytime set. Nicky Blumenfeld, who is popularly known as Nicky B (South Africa) is a dj, producer, compiler, writer, educator. For the past 26 years, she has been the producer-presenter of ‘The World Show’ on Johannesburg-based radio station

Kaya FM 95.9 and has been at the forefront of pushing folk music in South Africa. Appealing people from all over the world with her mix of urban, archival, deeply rooted, contemporary, cutting-edge sounds. 

And there is more…

Immerse Yourself in the Folklore Festival Book Fair

Expand your horizons and embark on an intellectual journey through the Folklore Festival Book Fair. Meet extraordinary African authors like Zulaikha Patel of My Coily Crowny Hair, Zinhle Matthews, My Family of Superheroes, Amo and Nkuli Nkosi, Khanya's first day at the park & more. This literary haven is a testament to the power of words and stories in folk tales that transcend time and space, creating connections across cultures and generations.

Indulge in the Folklore Festival Food and Crafts Market 

Treat your taste buds to an explosion of flavors at the Folklore Festival Food and Crafts Market. Discover unique, proudly African products crafted by talented artisans. 

"We are honored to continue our relationship with the National School of the Arts as our venue partner," says the visionary founder of Folklore Festival, Pilani Bubu, adding, "Folklore Festival 2023 is proud to announce its sponsors: The MGE, Mzansi Golden Economy, supported by The Department of Sports, Arts and Culture as well as The National Arts Council's both through Presidential Employment Stimulus (PESP4)."

Brenda Sakellarides, the Artistic Director of the school, ecstatically proclaimed, "The professionals that come to the fore in the planning and execution of this unique and remarkable festival present the perfect role models for our young artists. Quantifying the value of their professional exchange with the NSA community is impossible. The NSA benefits significantly from the association with their excellence and high-frequency artistry. 

The Folklore Festival 2023 is proudly supported by the Department of Sports Arts and Culture and the National Arts Council, and produced by Bupila Publishing (Pty) Ltd T/A Bupila Creative Lifestyle CO.

For more visit: | Contact: [email protected]  

Event after-movie for 2022: 

For production, market vendors, sponsorship and ticketing please contact:

Palesa Morabe: [email protected] | +27 71 492 5313


Folklore Festival 2023
National School of The Arts
17 Hoofd St, Braampark, Johannesburg, 2017
Get Directions