Ghanzi, Botswana: a highlight on the national metal calendar for Botswana metalheads and rockers is soon to achieve it’s eighth-year milestone, and continues to grow from strength to strength. Not only that, but the appeal and attraction of the Winter Metal Mania Festival is expanding it’s footprint into neighbouring countries and beyond with new visitors from farther afield attending each year.
The annual Winter Metal Mania Festival is synonymous with the locally situated band Overthrust, much in the same way as USA’s Manowar has had its European Magic Circle festivals or Sweden’s Sabaton it’s own Sabaton Open Air Festival. Overthrust has been building it’s own brand with a distinctly African flavour, complete with an isolated Kalahari Dessert town location and a regionally suitable theme of ‘Ride and March against poverty’ which embraces the closeness of rock and motorcycle culture in the landlocked nation, as well as acknowledges issues which affect both the more and the less fortunate members of Batswana society. With some band members themselves being civil servants by trade, they remain attentive to the needs and issues experienced by society in their surrounds. In spite of the otherwise “rebellious” nature of rock and metal music, Overthrust members are compassionate to the cause and use the festival primarily as a means to raise funds which are donated to local charitable institutions, such as a local orphanage.
Whilst still on a small scale, Overthrust‘s Winter Metal Mania Festival can still be regarded as an extremely significant landmark on the African metalscape. In particular, it it noteworthy for it’s persistence and consistency since inception, and more so for it’s unique character. Whilst music is the main draw for attendees, the festivities include all sorts of other elements of local culture – underground and more socially broad – such as arm wrestling contests, camping, a bonfire gathering, acoustic music sessions, car/motorcycle washing by metalheads (as fundraiser) as well as a motorcyle display, a fashion show (a unique feature of Botswana metal culture), a community march plus various other activities, begun and concluded with local dignitaries which beautifully exemplifies the impact that this event is having on it’s local community.
We spoke with the main festival organizer, Tshomarelo Mosaka (aka: Vulture, frontman of Overthrust), on the eve of last year’s event. Pictures courtesy of Overthrust, taken at the 7th Overthrust Winter Metal Mania Festival in 2016.