After two packed days in Johannesburg, our ARMC team jumped onto a bus and started the road to MTN Bushfire; where we were met by the lovely team of the festival. Before the official start of the Festival; our team took part in the organization of the series of workshops called Arts Round Table that took place on the Friday of the Bushfire Weekend in collaboration with FNB eSwatini. 

The Arts Round Table aims to connect aspiring multi-disciplinary artists with seasoned festival perfomers and creative industry professionals to have thematically driven discussions about the professionalisation and developements of the arts. 


This was the proud first of a three-year partnership along MTN Bushfire and Africa Rising Music Conference. Joining and combining forces, the Arts Round Table had a particular ARMC touch. The key topics were: Amplyfing Women Voices in the music industry, building bridges between Africa and the rest of the world and develop understanding and opportunity for independent Africa. 

The different panels included industry executives from Eswatini such as: Melusi “Zox” Dlamini, Buyi Cele, Sdoro Pinto, Symphony, Mmeli Hlanze and Nomalungelo. Alongisde them were international music executives that were part of the Dutch Music Export Delegation, such as Elvin Usidame and Dieuvertje Heuvelings. 

When Sarah Jane Nicholson asked Elvin Usidame what he thought about the Opening Ceremony, he said:

“We didnt know what to expect. We came in, had a few drinks and then, the nice opening ceremony. That was amazing, so we were already talking about how can we connect with this artists.” 


The main partner of Africa Rising Music Conference, Paradise Worldwide brought some of their team to speak and moderate panels during Arts Round Table. Paradise’s founder, Ralph Böge spoke at the “Africa in the new Age: what needs to be done for Africa to keep up”, moderated by Label Manager Mike Kelly. 

“Taking part in the MTN Bushfire and ARMC Arts Round Table was a great way to be introduced to the plethora of amazing local talent, artists and labels that Eswatini and Southern Africa has to offer. 

The diverse topics covered highlighted the key factors and issues faced by the local community and incorporated ways that the European and international market can bridge the gap between the requirements of the local community and it’s ability to showcase it’s music on an international stage.” Kelly said about his experience at Arts Round Table.

Alex Flitsch, Senior Label Manager at Paradise Worldwide and label owner at Connaisseur Recordings, spoke at a panel about Building independent labels; in which he shared with the locals his 15+ years of experience. After the conference, he said:

“It was my first time at MTN Bushfire and Eswatini in general and I was stunned by the talent, enthusiasm and friendliness I experienced in the professional exchange at the ARMC Arts Round Table. I hope I was able to share some food for thought resulting from my work experience in order to build bridges between our cultures and approaches. I can’t wait for next year.“


Africa Rising Music Conference’s Founder, Sarah Jane Nicholson moderated several panels, alongisde her colleague and Conference Artistic Planner, Leonie Junge. Complementing the female team, Leila Salinas from Argentina was there covering all social media related affairs. Leonie moderated and brought her expertise moderating the panel: “Building an Independent Label”. 

“Part taking in the Bushfire Festival & Arts Round Table was really an experience like I never had before. It really broadened the perspective on the music market worldwide, meaning outside the western world. The huge difference between the obstacles upcoming artists in Europe vs. Africa face and what ambition the local musicians had to get their music out there despite these obstacles was incredibly inspiring. 

Thats why I believe the Arts Round Table is a tool to make active change. Educating & Creating conversation is the only sustainable way to create serious change in my opinion. We cannot wait for the world to change, we have to do it ourselves.

Because the music quality is there, in Africa. It is deeply moving & filled with potential. Let’s get it out there! One song at a time.”


We can certainly say that the Arts Round Table achieved its goal: creating a platform for cultural exchange, international networking, and building bridges between Africa and the rest of the world. We hope that this cooperation is proven prolific in the future; and most importantly, see you all at Bushfire 2023!