Mawazine Festival recap: Akon's crowdsurfing, Sting's singalong, and Usher's on the street in Morocco!
Barely recognizable, but Sting still had the crowd in full-on karaoke mode. (AFP/Fadel Senna)
It's been an exciting few days at the Mawazine Festival in Rabat, Morocco! Following a steamy and controversial performance by Jennifer Lopez that got the Moroccan morality police hot under the collar, Senegalese rapper Akon, a practicing Muslim, told the Mawazine Press: “I was born a Muslim and depending on what part of Senegal you came from, music was considered haram [unlawful] and there has always been a debate about Islam and music. I never looked at the performing aspect of the music itself but on the intention. Even if you look at the daily prayers in Islam we pray in melody, when we hear the call to prayer in any part of the world it is also done with melody, so no one can tell me that music is haram. Now this is my personal point of view and I am not speaking for anyone else,” he said.
The audience got a hands-on experience during Akon's Wednesday night performance, as he launched himself into the crowd in a giant inflatable ball. Check it out here!
Returning for a second time to Mawazine was Sting, Thursday's headliner. Sting's debut at Mawazine 2010 saw the Royal Family of Morocco dancing on their feet to the British rocker's catalogue of hits. In a pre-concert press conference, Sting, sporting a heavy new beard, reminisced about his non-existent arabic during his 1999 collaboration with Algerian star Cheb Mami (who hardly spoke any English). He spoke about music being a common language that they could all share, and how always kept his ear to the ground for local music when travelling. Later that evening, he entertained the crowd with new hits and old. His classics Message in a Bottle, Shape of my Heart, Walking on the Moon, got the crowd singing along, according to Morocco World News.
Meanwhile, R&B groovemeister Usher took to the streets before his Friday night performance, to get down with some local performers.
Watch this space as we bring you more from the 2015 Mawazine Festival!