As things start opening slowly, the festivals are starting to show stronger movement and do things in innovative ways. As their contribution, the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees (KKNK) supported by Absa launched a virtual version of the popular Absa Kuierkamer, which is part of the festival each year and they keep adding more and more content, so keep checking their website and social media for future surprises. DIANE DE BEER shows the way:

“The KKNK has presented several online projects and productions over the past year (including Samsa Masjien by Jaco Bouwer quite recently, for example). It is an online festival where we offer the arts to everyone in the comfort of their home – whether it is on the television or computer screen, on the radio, on a smartphone, or on your doorstep – the KKNK is everywhere,” says Hugo Theart, Artistic Director of the KKNK.

The festival, which was temporarily put on hold last year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, will see Absa celebrating 16 years as a proud sponsor.

According to Theart, Absa has been involved with the festival for many years and they continue to support the arts in this challenging time with the world still grappling with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The Absa Kuierkamer has become an institution at the festival, a place where festival-goers are entertained and informed and can spend time together,” says Theart.

 Dr Paul Baylis, Absa Senior Specialist Art Curator adds: “We’re bringing innovations that will extend the reach of the festival beyond its usual territories, in the process introducing new audiences to the festival.”

They have come up with is a series of virtual engagements, activations and talks offered during the online festival period to continue to make the arts, and possibilities found there for artists, a reality. “This digital art presence makes visual arts more accessible to diverse audiences, whilst also providing visual artists with a platform to explore and comment on issues that impact their lives,” says Bayliss.

The Virtual Absa Kuierkamer also mimics aspects of the host town of Oudtshoorn and will see numerous online activities presented where visitors are given access to a variety of multimedia content. “Functions are spread across the town and art lovers can explore various beacons and buildings, just as they would during the festival. The platform boasts a wealth of unique interactive features, and all these features are offered through a web-based application, which enables a seamless experience on computers and mobile phones,” adds Bayliss.

One of the highlights on the program is award-winning presenter Hannes van Wyk’s Coffee Table Talks (popularly known as Koffietafelgesprekke). Van Wyk talks to his guests about, among other things, the impact of Covid-19 on the arts and entertainment industry and explores ideas around the future of this industry.

Another virtual experience that will be presented, is a series of art documentaries titled Beyond the Canvas. These focus on themes that have an impact on the South African visual arts landscape. The themes range from technology, social media, tourism, and graffiti, to recycling and food in relation to the visual arts and will include both local and international guests sharing their thoughts and experiences.

In addition, a series of six Business Talks is hosted by Absa’s Retail and Business Banking division (RBB) over the three-month period and will also see numerous guests invited to participate in conversations to find solutions to some of the country’s pressing questions. “Talks are compiled to focus on matters that contribute to the sustainability of our country at large,” Bayliss says.

Justin Schmidt looks at Renewable Energy and Manufacturing, James Noble sheds light on the world of Franchising, while Abrie Rautenbach highlights trends in Agribusiness. Fiks Dlamini focuses on opportunities in the Public Sector landscape and Kgalaletso Tlhoaele homes in on the importance of Enterprise Development.

Entertainment which can be enjoyed for free is also presented on the platform. These include 21 Life Lessons, a series where well-known and prominent South Africans share their life lessons; comedy segments by a few of our best comedians and storytellers; The Karoo Project, a special music series recorded by Zolani Mahola, Jitsvinger and Native Young in the Karoo during lockdown; and Oudtshoorn se mense, a series where residents not only showcase their talents, but also discuss the exceptional town and region. These sessions are available to all viewers to enjoy for free.

Starting with the music component, the  KKNK is equally well-known for its music offering and the beautiful region of the Karoo, specifically the Klein Karoo, which plays host to this festival.

Karoo Project with the sublime Zolani Mahola.

The Karoo Project was recorded by Rootspring Music in the desert landscapes of the Karoo  and  created in this amazing ecological space by musicians eager to play music again. The aim was to capture these soundscapes in their most raw and stripped-down form. Pippa Ehrlich, the Oscar-winning director of My Octopus Teacher, was a consultant on the project.

According to Yusuf Ganief, CEO of Rootspring NPC, their core purpose is to support artists and allow their creative expression to be the voice of conscience, to depict the mood of a nation. “The Karoo Project was born through a need to find ways of expressing this voice during a very challenging lockdown period,” he says.

The extraordinary Jitsvinger makes music

Mahola’s Thetha Mama is a reminder to humanity to reinvigorate the respect and humility that we once embodied towards Mother Earth. Jitsvinger’s Doenit is a head bobbing, high energy piece that speaks directly to one’s inner child and ability to move and let go. Graveyard by Native Young (Yannick Meyer & Mohau) is a deeply personal song about the ephemeral essence of life and mankind’s inevitable return to source – to nature.

Native Young’s Graveyard

Zolani Mahola’s Thetha Mama is now available to view in the Virtual Absa Kuierkamer’s theatre, via the KKNK-website as well as Jitsvinger’s Doenit launched in the beginning of October and Native Young’s Graveyard in the beginning of November.

Every bone in her body is funny: Marion Holm

It’s quite something to spend some time in these short bursts of laughter and memories. The short comic moments are almost like reading cartoons, while Mahola’s exquisite performance enveloped in her own Karoo musings linger magnificently and reminds one of the power of artists and how they state their thoughts and their expressions best- by sharing.

Absa also supports the KKNK’s second Virtual Gallery that opened its doors earlier this year. Bayliss is the curator of Absa’s exhibition, Emotion. Custom-made artworks by previous Absa L’Atelier participants, designed for this digital platform, are exhibited here. Stroll through the Virtual Gallery at  

And watch out for some exciting theatre in the not too distant future.

The Virtual Absa Kuierkamer is presented until  the end of November 2021. Click here for an overview and virtual walk-through of the unique platform:

Visit and follow the quick registration process for access to the Virtual Absa Kuierkamer.

As a special highlight, Coenie de Villiers and Deon Meyer have put together an early Christmas concert especially for the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival (KKNK) and Oudtshoorn, to lead us into the festive season.

Audiences from across the country raved about De Villiers and Meyer’s Karoo Suite 1 & 2 and now these two masters and lovers of the Karoo have put together a special show, Karoo-Kersfees which takes place on November 25 and 26 at 7pm at the beautiful Surval Boutique Olive Estate in Oudtshoorn.

De Villiers is at home behind the piano for a Karoo programme that not only pays homage to the beautiful region, but also the Christmas season. “We can finally perform again. On top of that, we can do it under the stars in the Karoo. Come and share the Christmas spirit with us – it will be an honour to play for an audience again,” he says.

Meyer joins De Villiers on stage as they sing the praises of the Karoo, the starry night – and in particular, that one starry night thousands of years ago. “A Karoo Christmas concert under the stars. In the Karoo. After all the months of pandemic, lockdown and restrictions. It’s going to be magnificent,” says Meyer.

The production lasts 70 minutes. A limited number of tickets are available at Quicket at R250 per person. All Covid-19 protocols will be adhered to, and audience members must wear a mask at all times.

For inquiries, contact the KKNK office on 044 203 8600, send a WhatsApp to 065 285 2337, or e-mail