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Womad performer hospitalised with burns

KATE SAUNDERS
Last updated 05:00 17/03/2012
DAILY NEWS ONLINE

The Mad Professor at WOMAD 2012

Dobet Gnahore
CAMERON BURNELL/Fairfax NZ
ESSENCE OF AFRICA: Ivory Coast singer Dobet Gnahore flings herself about the stage during the opening night of Womad last night.
tdn lady
Cameron Burnell
ESSENCE OF AFRICA: Ivory Coast singer Dobet Gnahore flings herself about the stage during the opening night of Womad last night.
Friday night at Womad
CAMERON BURNELL Zoom
Womad 2012 kicked off on Friday night. Photographer Cameron Burnell caught the action. Photo ID: 17-TDN-CBwomad201201363.jpg

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A Womad performer was burnt during a cooking demonstration at the festival's opening last night in an incident unprecedented in the event's eight-year history in Taranaki.

The 30-year-old man from Mongolian band Anda Union was preparing a traditional dish in the Taste the World cooking demonstration tent when the accident happened.

The audience and band members watched in horror as hot water spilled over the man's neck and back.

He was taken to a nearby water tap, where St John's Ambulance staff poured buckets of cold water over his injuries.

The man, who spoke no English, appeared pale in the face and a little shaky. He was taken to Taranaki Base Hospital for treatment to moderate burns.

It was the only hiccup in an otherwise typically vibrant opening to Taranaki's favourite music festival.

Earlier in the day, the beat of an African drum somewhere in the depths of the TSB Bowl of Brooklands called an eclectic audience forward.

The dreadlocks were out, the long peasant skirts were twisting in the breeze, and the picnic rugs had been spread.

Womad 2012 was here – our annual party had begun.

A haka delivered by champion kapa haka team Te Matarae i Orehu opened the night and was performed with such fierce conviction its sound filled the amphitheatre and drew large cheers from the crowd.

A short break and a refuel at the Krishna Food tent later, and the stage was set for Aboriginal performer Gurrumul, a man whose self-titled debut album sold more than half a million copies.

Blind from birth, there's some magic about his soulful sound.

But remember, this is Womad. And Africa is never far away.

Ivory Coast singer Dobet Gnahore was the antithesis of Gurrumul's mellow sound.

With thick pink material woven through her long braids, she leapt across the stage, throwing her leg (somehow) above her head and thrusting her bottom out.

She was the essence of Africa.

"Are you right?" she called to the crowd. "I'm not all right because everybody is sitting." The audience rose en masse, rising and clapping and flailing their limbs in the same manner of the performer.

For 9-year-old Kali Taylor, the performance was just the ticket. "I love it because it's jazzy and musical, and I love dancing."

As night fell, Womaders flocked to the Bowl stage to watch the Master Drummers of Burundi. There, the African theme continued as the 12 hand-carved drums were manipulated into rhythms. The band inspired the first Womad nearly 30 years ago.

With the weather gods set to smile on Womad again, expect a cracking day in the sun today. Watch out for top acts Alabama 3, Lo'Jo, Staff Benda Bilili and Anda Union.

MUSIC MOVES THE CROWDS

Womad fever knows no age boundaries.

Nor does its magic fade over time.

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Teeming through the festival last night were teenagers, middle-agers, baby-boomers, old-timers and the just plain young.

For 9-year-old Kali Taylor from Whangarei, this year's Womad is her fifth.

"It's kind of like a tradition," she says.

"I'm here with my mum, dad, sisters and friends."

What does she like best then?

"Probably the dancing and the singing and the music. I'm an energetic person," Kali said.

Also energetic were the Kirk family, of Oakura.

Husband and wife Andre and Esther only moved to Taranaki 10 months ago and this is their first festival.

"We come with the kids to Pukekura Park all the time and they love music. It's such a good opportunity to bring them to experience what it's like at a festival," Mrs Kirk said.

And to get into the spirit of things, their sons, Khan, 3, and Joel, 4, were dressed as Batman and Spiderman respectively.

"I did have other clothes out but you know they came out in that. It will be something different tomorrow." Khan was also sporting an essential for any junior Womader: his mum's cell phone number on his arm, just in case he gets lost.

The festival's colours had worked their magic on the boys.

"They walked down the drive and they were saying `Look at the flags; look at the people'."

In the line for the Krishna Food tent, a couple at the opposite end of the age spectrum to the boys were Steve and Jenny Kendall.

Great Barrier Island residents, they were also enjoying their first Womad.

Steve was looking forward to live music; Jenny the craft stalls.

Last night was all about working out the lay of the land, and then figuring out who they will watch today.

"It's just lovely to be here," they said.

A feeling plenty of festival-goers shared last night.

- Taranaki

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