A jam session with Ray Phiri

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Ray Chikapa Phiri got on stage to give a short lecture to local musicians at a small private gathering organised by music promoter Zenzele Hitchfeld at Botswana Craft's Megopong Hall. With a successful musical career of over 40 years, Phiri had everyone's attention; it felt like a church session.

It was a fun story at the beginning as Phiri broke the ice with a short recital of Stimela's great classic, Who Is Fooling Who. The small crowd sung along as he did a short acappella while making his trademark cartoon-like dance moves.  At 66 years, the skinny legend admits he is an "old man trapped in a young man's body". He narrated his touching musical life story from the days of Jabavu Queens (his first band) in 1967, Cannibals - a group he formed in Nelspruit in 1970, to the great Stimela group. He advised local musicians to work with each other and help nurture Botswana talent. Phiri became emotional when he talked about his love for music.
He started to preach; "Music is the closest thing to religion". The small crowd inside the intimate Megopong Hall too, was emotional while listening to Stimela's legend. And that is when the jam started.

Just when the tears of a 66-year-old legend were about to flow down his clean-shaken cheeks, he asked for the guitar. He let the guitar cry, in a way that made him a legend. The local band joined him. The legendary guitarist John Selolwane came up on stage. Assistant Minister  of Trade and Industry Keletso Rakhudu (he is called Bro Kaiser at these sessions) later jumped on stage too and showed that inside the suited politician, there is also a good guitarist in him. It no longer felt like church session-it was a jazz jam session.

Editor's Comment
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