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Meanwhile, back in the bush

Were you to drive into Nelspruit this weekend, you might start to worry that you’ve slipped a year back in time, as you’re presented with soccer balls fighting for space on lamp posts with signs proclaiming Nelspruit’s illustrious status as “2010 Soccer World Cup Host City”.

It’s a little bit depressing really – would that Philip really were still here. There’s a feeling that Nelspruit became stuck in 2010, like some sort of Mpumalanga Brigadoon, and never really moved on. There is certainly no sign of any festival being hosted here ….

And then!
… until you turn left into Madiba Drive — and suddenly there isn’t a single pole not covered with posters advertising one or another Afrikaans singer, band, or show.

Now this is why I braved the four-hour drive from Johannesburg: Innibos 2011 — a festival celebrating Afrikaans theatre, music, books and food.

There are signs inviting you to stop en stap (park and walk), or to Afridans, playing on this year’s theme Dans in Afrikaans, and you in turn might invite funny stares — should you be overheard speaking a word of English.

Marquee tents host stalls selling wares ranging from biltong and vetkoek to sheepskin slippers and earthenware pots.

A range of food smells fills the air — from standard festival fare such as pizza and mini-donuts to the roosterkoek and moerkoffie. And wandering through the stalls, you see starstruck moms and daughters, hoping to catch a glimpse and perhaps an autograph of Kurt Darren, Steve Hofmeyr — or even Bobby van Jaarsveld.

If you didn’t manage to spot your favourite celeb out and about on the town, you could certainly catch them performing on one of two stages.

On the main stage, a stellar array of artists features every evening, from Pieter Koen and Elvis Blue to the Campbells. A smaller stage, MK Kliphard, caters for the younger music taste and bands such as Boo!, Taxi Violence and Zebra and Giraffe.

While music performances make up a huge part of the festival entertainment, poets, writers and actors also have found stages for their theatre productions and performance art.

The warm temperatures are reminiscent of a hot city summer: short dresses and sandals are even making a reappearance — but visiting city dwellers beware! As soon as the sun disappeared behind the mountain, I had to grab my thermal underwear, thick scarf and big jacket (with a sherry-filled hip flask neatly tucked away) to keep warm enough to enjoy the outside concerts.

Innibos 2011 runs from June 29 to July 2 in Nelspruit.

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Amanda Strydom
Amanda Strydom is the Mail & Guardian online's night editor. With a background in science and journalism, she has a black belt third dan in ballet and, according to a statistical analysis of the past three years, reads 2.73 books every week. She never finishes her tea, although she won't say no to a cupcake. But only just this once.

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