In light of how the Coronavirus has gripped most of the globe, it’s more than understandable why people are being bullied by panic, anxiety and a legit sense of unease when they think of the ramifications of this outbreak. But Back To The City festival founder and organiser Osmic Menoe sees the glass half-full, despite being forced to postpone the annual Freedom Day festival to October this year.
“We had already bought [plane] tickets for the international artists, we had paid the security companies. We do our wristbands in China, so that was already paid for. There’s a project we’ve been working on, we’ve printed CDs and vinyl’s in America…there’s a sizable amount of money already that’s been spent, but the beauty about it is that none of it is a loss because all we just had to do was shift things you know, because these are suppliers we’ve always been working with,” Osmic tells Tha Bravado.
“All we had to do, was to say ‘look, just shift delivery to a later date. Security companies we’ve already paid you, instead of rendering the services in April, you now rendering the services in October’ and another blessing in disguise is that, six month later is another festival-it’s another Back to The City for 2021, so it also enabled us to renegotiate certain contracts and certain deals…and a month later [after October] is the Hip Hop Awards. That also assists in terms of renegotiating things. Yes, there’s money that’s been lost but at the same time, shit happens man.”
Ritual Media, which Osmic owns is behind BTTC, the South African Hip Hop Awards and the South African Hip Hop Museum. Drudgery is probably not the word to describe the work Ritual Media staff will go through, but they’ll be breaking their sweat in the next 12 months, looking at the proximity of their projects.
For over a decade thousands of youth have religiously gathered in Johannesburg’s Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown, to celebrate Freedom Day through Hip Hop. In what was supposed to be the 14th installment of the Back to The City International Hip Hop festival in a few weeks, will now take place on October 10th.
“Obviously we looked at the month of September, we thought there’s Heritage day which is the 24th possibly a lot of people will be doing stuff then. We obviously looked at June and we thought to ourselves chances are, the lockdown might either still be in effect or coming to an end. So for us, seven months away from the said date made a little bit more sense, because number one we’re able to spread messages about our new change and number two, we’re able to make sure that we’re in a safe zone.” October 10th also happens to be World Mental Heal Day.
The festival’s purpose is to celebrate Hip-Hop and youth culture through an afternoon/evening of live performances, graffiti and exhibitions with the aim of bringing the youth back to the city, in Joburg. The show features artists representing different corners of South African Hip Hop. This unique youth event is a first of its kind in South Africa. The showcase is always full of activities such as a mini educational Summit, live performances, skateboarding, BMXing, live graffiti art, merchandising and exhibitions, all under the bridge at the corners of Henry Nxumalo and Bree streets.
This year’s BTTC was understood to be the penultimate after Osmic announced that end of the festival’s run a few years ago. There was incontestable conviction about the festival not ever happening, with fans even being sold end of day ticket packages until a beverage broke the thirst. “Hennessy is now our official naming partner, hence the festival is called Hennessy Back To The City International Hip Hop festival. We’re joined at the hip for the next coming three years. For the fact that we’ve got someone [Hennessy] who believes in culture and whose been in culture for so long. It’s also something very new for them to partner with something that’s very large scale, you it’s an exclusive brand. It just goes to show how much they believe in African Hip Hop”