Let The Show Begin
From the Zimbabwe Herald
by Fred Zindi, 1st May 2012
Hats off to Manuel Bagorro, Maria Wilson, George Mutendadzamera and the rest of the Hifa team for hosting the 13th instalment of the Harare International Festival of the Arts. This year’s event, which begins tonight, has been dubbed “A Show of Spirit” by the organisers.
Yes, as I said before, the month of April is always an exciting one. Hifa brings a lot of cultural and artistic events, but this week I will concentrate on the exciting musical activities.
Nobody can claim to be going to watch all the events on offer at Hifa as that is almost impossible. Hifa seems to be growing stronger each year.
When a lot of Zimbabwean musicians were scattered abroad in 2008 due to economic hardships, we thought that Hifa was coming to an end, but no, it has gained its momentum and the musicians have all come back to celebrate this once in a year festival.
A host of international, regional and local musicians will perform at Hifa this week.
The opening show tonight, on the Telecel Main Stage, which always gives Hifa audiences pause for thought, is a dynamic cast of local and international performers and is not to be missed.
It will be directed by the founding director of Tumbuka Contemporary Dance Company in what promises to be a moving and memorable night.
This opening show will also be directed musically by the supremely talented Zimbabwean musician, Vee Mukarati.
The audience should get the anticipated thrill of the night.
The rest of the week is filled with different music genres: Opera music from American opera stars, jazz, reggae, sungura, hip- hop, rhumba, Tonga music and finally, Tuku music.
To me, Saturday, May 5 will be the most exciting and busiest day as four acts will be performing one after another, starting with Winky D, an icon of dancehall in Zimbabwe, at the Telecel Main Stage at 1pm.
This will be followed later by Ismael Lo, the famous harmonica playing guitarist, also known as the “African Bob Dylan”, who will also grace the Telecel Main Stage on Saturday.
I am looking forward to that. This is the guy who has revolutionised the traditional sound of Senegal and has made it sound like rhythm and blues which has become very popular with audiences worldwide.
On the same Saturday around 4pm, Chiwoniso Maraire and John Pfumojena will perform at the 7 Arts Theatre. This should be exciting as the two artistes are capable of taking their audience through myriad states of emotion.
Other local artistes billed to perform on different days are Alexio Kawara, Edith WeUtonga, Mokoomba from Victoria Falls who will perform alongside Dutch Gregor Salto from the Netherlands, Ngoma Buntibe Music of the Tonga people, Willom Tight, Hope Masike, Umoja Zimbabwe, Ruzivo, Netsayi Chigwendere, Mariachi Blazer Boys and Kirby Chipembere.
The closing show will be by Zimbabwe’s international superstar, Oliver Mtukudzi, at the Telecel Main Stage.
Other performances to watch are by Liz Ogumbo from Kenya, Tumi and the Volume from South Africa, Sonic Slam Chorus which consists of musicians from Norway, Zimbabwe, Botswana and the United Kingdom.
I am pleased to note that Hifa has become an institution, so have many local artistes who seem to appear at the event every year. Last year I had the opportunity to watch Winky D at the Telecel Main Stage where the three time Nama award winner, “Bigiman”, was performing. The “Ninja President”, who has previously shared the stage with Jamaican ragga artistes such as Sizzler and Beenie Man and Movado, has proved that he is Zimbabwe’s new icon of dancehall.
He has achieved that feat through his inimitable delivery style, lyrical skill and professional showmanship when he performed for one and half hours with a backing band (not CDs) while his fans sang along to the songs of the man wearing a ninjaman belt.
Last year, I also had the opportunity to watch Mokoomba, those boys from Victoria Falls, doing their thing at the Coca-Cola Green Stage and they really moved the audiences.
You could see the one and half hours on stage was not enough for them as they wanted to carry on after their time was up, but such is Hifa, everything works according to time.
So be warned, if you are planning on watching any of these acts, that you have to be there on time, otherwise you will miss out. Hifa is different from the mundane concerts we have attended in some local venues where the advertisement says the starting time is 7 o’clock and the main artiste does not appear until midnight when half the audience is either too drunk to watch the show or are fast asleep.
This is not to say that everything done by Hifa is perfect. Last year, there were some obvious hiccups at Hifa, but this is to be expected at any project of such huge magnitude.
Some enthusiastic security staff and bouncers manning the gates became overzealous and started to own the shows.
For instance, at the 7 Arts Theatre some ticket holders were locked out because they had arrived 10 minutes late.
I overheard one security detail shouting at a man: “It’s not my fault that you got held up in traffic. Come back for a refund on your ticket next week.”
l Fred Zindi is a professor at the University of Zimbabwe. He is also a musician and an author of several books on music.
Posted on May 5, 2012, in African Musicians, Live Music Gig, News and tagged Chiwoniso Maraire, George Mutendadzamera, Harare International Festival of the Arts, HIFA, Ismael Lo, John Pfumojena, Manuel Bagorro, Maria Wilson, Telecel, Winky D, Zimbabwean Music. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a Comment.