Craft

Ghanzi: A Metal Community In Arms

By Tecla Ciolfi  |  June 12, 2019  | 371

You’d think that the night before one of the biggest metal festivals in Africa, its chief organiser would be taking it easy. You’d be wrong.

The brains behind Botswana’s Overthrust Winter Metal Mania festival is already well-warmed and raring to go. Vulture (real name Tshomarelo Mosaka) is the head honcho behind the festival, he’s also the vocalist and bassist of the old school death metal band, Overthrust.

He welcomes our party to the tiny town of Ghanzi with open arms, arriving at our central hotel with an entourage of metal cowboys kitted out in their finest, shiniest leather attire. Vulture is carrying a small black boombox blasting a selection of heavy metal whilst swigging red wine out of a hollowed-out horn.

I take a small sip of his wine as he explains how this is the one weekend a year where all metalheads can shed their 9 to 5 attire and come together to celebrate their love for the genre – from sun up until sun down, quite literally.

 Image by: Leeroy Jason

This year’s festival is especially poignant though as a large focus of it is on commemorating Overthrust’s drummer, Suicide Torment (real name Gakeitse Botlhalentwa). Suicide was hit by a car and tragically died on Christmas Day in 2018 and there’s a palpable sense that their community has not been the same since.

During festival proceedings in the Ghanzi community hall on the second day, the MC breaks to announce that a portion of the proceeds raised from this year’s festival will go towards resurrecting a tombstone for Suicide, as well as to care for his eight-year-old son.

Having just come from laying wreaths at his graveside, Suicide’s mother stands centre-stage in tears, her gratitude overwhelming as the platform is flooded and she is warmly embraced.

Outside in the buzzing parking lot (where the party is equally as entertaining as the various bands inside the hall, thanks to numerous car bars and mock shootings) I spot Vulture amongst a local TV crew. I ask him how he’s managed to financially keep this festival ship afloat for 10 years. He confesses that it’s tough but is humbly adamant that all remaining proceeds from the festival go towards a local children’s charity – an incredible feat when you consider that the entire weekend-long festival is fuelled by donations. There’s not one big name sponsor in sight.

 Image by: Leeroy Jason

If taken purely at surface level, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Overthurst Winter Metal Mania Festival is solely about costume and fanfare. It is, in actual fact, primarily focused on a communal spirit fuelled by a sub-culture that’s unlike any I’ve had the privilege to bare witness to.

Image by: Andre Badenhorst

 

 Image by: Leeroy Jason

 

Image by: Andre Badenhorst

 

Image by: Andre Badenhorst

 

Image by: Andre Badenhorst

 

Image by: Andre Badenhorst

 

 Image by: Leeroy Jason

 

 Image by: Leeroy Jason


Most Read

Want TO BE one of our
FEATURED artists?

Send us your story & track

Send now