Million-selling South African band Mango Groove in London to celebrate launch of Africa-based global conservation NGO, By James Brewer
The renowned South African band Mango Groove is performing a one-off London show on Saturday March 7 2015 at the Hammersmith Apollo to raise awareness (and money) for what is said to be Africa’s first global conservation non-governmental organisation, Wilderness Foundation Global.
With a long history of popularity in their homeland, Mango Groove started playing to mixed race audiences 10 years before the end of Apartheid. The group played for Nelson Mandela when he was released from prison and for his presidential inauguration.
The 11-piece Afro-pop band is back in the UK after 20 years, having had 12 number one hits in South Africa and sales of more than 1m records in Africa.
The NGO is directly supported by UK-based Tusk Foundation, which since 1990 has invested more than $40m in projects across Africa for conservation, community development and environmental education. Royal patron of the Tusk Foundation is the Duke of Cambridge.
Mango Groove will donate a portion of the proceeds of their concert to Wilderness Foundation Global.
Mango Groove’s music is up-beat, fusing traditional urban South African styles such as kwela, marabi, mbube, swing and gumboot dancing with the powerful vocals of Claire Johnston and sounds including penny whistle. Support acts at the Apollo will include singer-songwriter Matthew Mole and electro-pop band, Kinky Robot.
Lead singer Claire Johnston said: “The show will be about celebrating more than music: it’s a celebration of our history, our tradition and our unfolding story as South Africans.”
It had been a lifelong dream of the organisation’s late founder, Dr Ian Player, to create a global organisation, and Wilderness Foundation Global will see this happen with the consolidation of three of the organisations he founded –Wilderness Foundation SA, Wilderness Foundation UK and WILD Foundation USA – into Wilderness Foundation Global.
Dr Player led the team that has been credited with saving the white rhino from extinction in the 1960s.
Claire Johnston said “John [founder member John Leyden] and I were privileged enough to have had several exchanges with Dr Ian Player through the years… our own experiences on the Wilderness Leadership School Umfolozi [Reserve] trails were, quite simply, life-changing for us and they had a very powerful and lasting effect on our own attitudes towards the natural world and our relationship with it.”
Wilderness Foundation Africa works in many countries from its base in South Africa to protect wildlife and wilderness in partnership with local communities. It was established in 1972 and has been involved in direct action anti-poaching activity, large landscape wilderness management, and developing young leaders from disadvantaged communities for a career in conservation.
The Wilderness Foundation is an active partner in the Wilderness Network, a global group based on a passion for direct conservation action; respect for all living things; a commitment to conservation education; and operations that demonstrate integrity, transparency, sustainability, and innovation.
Mango Groove is a considerable South African cultural force, and has won many international music and recording awards. As a young non-racial music group formed in 1985, the band survived the tumultuous decades of 1980s South African protest pop, bestrode the transitional years of 1990s South Africa, and remains at the forefront of music there today.
Their publicists say of Mango Groove that the group “continues to touch the hearts and minds of all South Africans of all ages. Today the group stands proud as a powerful symbol of the great South African journey: where we have come from, and where we are going.”
Mango Groove, with support Matthew Mole and Kinky Robot. Saturday March 7 2015, doors open 6.30pm. Hammersmith Eventim Apollo, 45 Queen Caroline Street, London W6. Tickets £39.50 plus service and handling fees, from www.eventimapollo.com