Is the Oppikoppi Festival a “whites only” festival?
Published by: Nomonde Mohapi
On: 20 July 2017
In 2014 I walked into Mandela Square Exlusive Books and there it was, starring right back at me: Stuff South African White People Like by Christian Lander and Hagen Engler. Because I am a sucker for Satire, I bought the book with my monthly bus fare.
There I was, in the bus back home, with my bus fare- worth- book in my hands. And as I was reading I bumped into this in one of the pages: “Oppikoppi is an annual music festival held on a koppie about 200km north of Johannesburg in the dusty, thorny Limpopo bushveld, outside a town called Northam.
It has been going for 20 years and is now an integral part of white culture. The festival lasts three or four days, with several stages of music comprising mostly rock, but also electro, hip-hop and jazz.
Attending Oppikoppi means camping in the bush with about 20 000 other people, all covered in orange dust and smelling of brandy and sweat. White people cannot get enough of it. Oppikoppi is like a pilgrimage to reaffirm their white principles”.
It seems as though the devil will never cease from throwing me in situations of toil because a month ago a friend called me, asking why is Oppikoppi not included on The Travel Africa Squad’s festivals (I am the club’s trip coordinator). She immediately ordered that I include it because herself and a group of other people would like to attend.
Now I stopped entertaining thoughts of going to Oppikoppi three years ago, since reading Stuff South African White People Like. As my friend was talking, all I could see is a group of Afrikaner men in khakhi shorts and T-Shirts that have the old South African flag printed on them, creeping into our tents and smothering us (people whose skin is brown) in our sleep, whilst Bok van Blerk performs Delaray just to set the tone for victory.
According to my knowledge and the knowledge of many other black, South African festival goers (knowledge that is very correct but has not been correct for the past few years) Oppikoppi is a festival that represents the music interests of a minority ethnic group, the Afrikaaner youth, the offspring of the men I imagine smothering us in our sleep.
To my surprise and embarrassment, the Oppikoppi Festival, is stepping into its 23rd year with a line-up that consists of over 20 acts from people of colour, with Mafikizolo and Black Coffee as headlining acts.
Although the attendance is still predominantly white youth, the festival is definitely no longer the preserve of any ethnic-group. And the 2017 line-up is the proof to that pudding. Oppikoppi has over the years been gravitating towards a line-up that appeals to a racially and culturally diverse audience and that is something worth a pat on the back.
Now, on the 5th of October myself and my friends and their friends will be loading our bags into Ntate Jan’s kombi, making our way to Oppikoppi, because clearly the Reservation of Separate Amenities Act, 1953 is not a thing at Oppi.
Unfortunately we do not have extra space in our kombi to tag you along but you can click here to tag along next year.
In the coming weeks we are going to do a series on the black performers who will be performing at Oppikoppi 2017, so be on the lookout for that.