IT is all systems go for the 13th edition of the annual Lesotho Tourism Festival (LETOFE) – Sounds of Blue on Saturday, with a host of foreign and local musical artists lined up.
As usual, the fete will be held at Thaba Bosiu Cultural Village and will feature South African musos Ringo, Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuze, Vusi Nova, Bongani Radebe, The Soil and Nathi who replaced the ailing Hugh Masekela.
The local contingent has been increased this year, with the legendary Tšepo Tšola joined by Friends, Mystic Margin, Selimo Thabane, Kommanda Obbs, Juvy and L-Tore.
This year’s edition has the tagline Sounds of Blue reflecting Standard Lesotho Bank’s (SLB) progression from sponsor to brand sponsor. SLB is regarded as the “blue bank”. The other sponsors include Alliance Insurance, Metropolitan Lesotho, Central Media and Vodacom Lesotho.
The bash will be followed the next day by the LETOFE Wrap Up show at the Maseru Mall-based Ba.One. The show will feature DJs Vigilante, Milkshake, Dimplez, Lerato Kganyago and Sue from the neighbouring country, along with locals Tapi Delux, Tedoz and Neo Tlali.
Addressing a press conference in Maseru this week, event organiser, Montoeli ‘Moleli, said all was set for the sought after festival, adding that 5 000 tickets had already been sold.
“As LETOFE keeps gaining momentum and more support, we as the organisers also step up our game with every edition and having learned from other international festivals, we will be having two stages as well as a camping area to allow people to rest before driving home,” he said.
“When we started, only around 2 500 tickets would be sold but this year over 5 000 have already been sold via Computicket, and this number excludes those that have been sold by Vodacom’s M-Pesa.”
‘Moleli said in addition to the normal stage, the cultural village’s amphitheatre would also be used as another stage. Camping sites would be inside Thaba Bosiu Cultural Village and ‘Melesi Lodge – a stone’s throw away from the heritage centre.
“Unlike in the past, this time we will start in the early afternoon because most of the people we attract are mature. So, the aim is to have all the main performances done before they get tired; hopefully by around 1am. However, the show will still continue till the wee hours of Sunday morning.”
The organisers have also addressed the challenge of traffic by fixing an old route so that revellers can use another entrance to the Thaba Bosiu Cultural Village which has its own parking space.
He said the route goes via Liolong, passes ‘Mamohato Children’s Home and Blue Cross to ‘Melesi to the fields near the Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation Information Centre on the left side of the cultural village’s entrance.
On behalf of the sponsors, SLB Chief Executive Mpho Vumbukani said as a people oriented bank, they supported initiatives that would help their clients to unwind.
“LETOFE: Sounds of Blue is our flagship sponsorship and it resonates very well with our brand,” he said.
“For over 12 years, Standard Lesotho Bank has been the main sponsor. This is a very important contribution that we are making towards the promotion of arts and culture in Lesotho and indeed the rest of Africa as Standard Bank Group supports different Jazz festivals across the continent, including Standard Bank Joy of Jazz in South Africa.”
He added: “It is our token of appreciation for the loyalty of our customers. Therefore, we urge everybody to come and unwind but then let us spend money wisely and remember that January is still coming.”
He also lauded the organisers for honouring the late Afro Jazz pioneer Frank Mooki Leepa.
“Ntate Frank was a master musician and composer of distinction who represented Lesotho well with aplomb at home and abroad. He remains an icon that has left a mark in the music industry,” said Vumbukani.