South Africa 2009

I recently had the opportunity to travel back to South Africa to sing. My last trip to this far land was in 1995 with Marvin Phillips, George Pendergrass, Duane Adams and Robert Guy. This time around, I traveled with a group termed “Acappella Classic.” Once again I was with George, but the remainder of our jolly troupe consisted of Keith Lancaster, Rodney Britt, Kevin Schaffer and Steve Maxwell.

We were booked for two concerts, Johannesburg and Capetown. I was not able to stay the entire time to make the Capetown concert, but my short time in Joberg was a wonderful experience. I’ve been many places all over the world and experienced many different cultures. I can say without reservation that the people of South Africa are some of the most open, friendly and accepting people I’ve met.

After a 30+ hour trip from Lubbock to Joberg (Wed-Thu), we spent the first evening relaxing and trying to figure out what time it actually was. Rodney did not make it in with us. He was stuck back in the States going through a long chain of troubles. Ask him about it sometime.

But I jumped ahead of myself. Before we made it to the lodge for the evening, we were greeted by the wonderful people of Joberg. After we had finally cleared South African passport control and customs, we emerged into the large rotunda/public area. We began looking for someone holding a sign that said “acappella” or something similar. We noticed a very large group (200 or so) of what appeared to be scouts, both boys and girls. A few of them were carrying drums and they seemed to be looking for someone. Suddenly, two of them noticed George and starting jumping around yelling something. Within seconds, all 200+ people crowded around us and began singing and going nuts on the drums. For the next 45 minutes, it was constant handshaking, hugging, singing and signing. The other guys (with the exception of George) did not know it, but this was a repeat of a scene 14 years ago in Port Elizabeth. The South Africans are exceedingly friendly.

Friday was a day of becoming acclimated to our new time zone and rehearsals sans Rodney. What amazed me was our trip to the mall for lunch. The mall itself was pretty cool, sprawled across several blocks and multi-level. Even more interesting was the mix of people we encountered. We obviously saw many Africans in their cultural dress. Within the space of a few minutes, we also saw Indians in sarongs, Muslims in hijabs, modern Europeans suits and even Hassidic Jews complete with peyot. I’ve seldom seen such a wide array of cultures mingling together in, what appeared to be, harmony. At any rate, Rodney arrived that night amidst a downpour and we were complete and ready to go. After another rehearsal or two.

The next morning we made the trip to a local radio station to promote the concert that evening. The security to get into the place was as tight as an airport. Searches, scanners, registration, etc. Pretty tight. After being “removed” from the wrong studio (the only rude Africans I met), we wound up in the studio of RadioFM 2000. As it turns out, it wasn’t a local station at all. It was a nationwide radio station that was also the official station of the 2010 World Cup. Extremely cool. I was one year too early.

That afternoon, we rolled into Rhema Bible Church for sound check. I’ve seen some large church buildings, and this one is as big as any of them. 6500 seats. I did a slow camera pan of the empty sanctuary. It took 2 hours. We had almost 2000 people at the concert and the place still seemed mostly empty. Massive.

The concert was extremely well-received. The crowd knew and sang along with most of the songs. We sang through our exhaustion, and God took care of it. The next day, I boarded the plane for the long route home. The rest of the gang stayed for a safari and the Capetown concert.

I look forward to our return. I DO NOT look forward to the 30+ hour trip one-way. Nasty.


  1. Sive Goniwe says

    South Africa is a very beautiful place. That “large group (200 or so)
    of what appeared to be scouts” are actually called Pathfinders, associated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church. How I wish I could’ve gone to the concert here in Cape Town.

  2. Mainfriend Makhetho says

    Facilitated the Morning Live SABC 1 Television early morning interview and the morning of the concert Radio 2000 interviews. What an awesome time we had.Sadly my friend Yami passed away. Do you have the pictures that we took on the two occassions?

    • garymoyers says

      Yes I remember. That was a good time. I would love to return. The South African people are such loving people. And Yami is missed, but we will see him again.

      I do not have much in the way of pictures, but Keith took MANY pictures of that trip. Check out his blog and take a look.

Post Your Thoughts... Tell Me If I'm Out in Left Field.