By Sharon Kavhu
HARARE – The United States (US) Embassy is this year partnering with Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) in Zimbabwe with a feature film as well as musical and health infotainment in Harare’s First Street.
In a statement, the embassy’s public affairs officer, David McGuire said the international arts festival is an opportunity for different nations to learn and exchange art and musical cultures of the two countries.
“We are excited to be part of this year’s edition of HIFA. We see the Festival as an opportunity to learn more about Zimbabwean art and culture as well as sharing American art forms and our commitment to a healthy Zimbabwe,” said McGuire.
The US will provide a platform for its partners to reach out to the public at the HIFA’s PEPFAR First Street Stage at the junction of First Street and George Silundinka Avenue in Harare. The PEPFAR First Street Stage will provide free shows during the duration of the festival under the theme “Start Free, Stay Free, AIDS Free.”
In addition, the public will receive health information as well as access services from U.S. Embassy partners supported through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
In Zimbabwe, PEPFAR has committed $135 million in 2017, and the initiative supports the Government of Zimbabwe’s National response to HIV and AIDS by providing high-impact prevention, care, and treatment interventions.
Among the performances at the PEPFAR First Street Stage will be the visiting a Capella musical group, Street Corner Symphony. The five member Nashville, Tennessee- based group was established in 2010 and has made their mark on the music world, recording albums and performing around the world, working with major artists including Ben Folds, Alison Krauss, and Take 6’s Claude McKnight.
The feature film, Lucky Specials, will also be part of the HIFA 2017 schedule which brings together local and international and art forms to Harare. The film was produced with support from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and PEPFAR in partnership with Discovery Learning Alliance, Quizzical Pictures, Wellcome Trust, Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), HHMI Tangled Bank Studios, and Management Sciences for Health (MSH) to produce the film which premiered in Harare on March 9. In this “edutainment” film, both plot twists and scientific video animations tell individuals what they need to know about TB disease, TB treatment, and TB prevention. Audiences were enchanted by the music and storyline, and armed with facts to replace myths and misinformation about TB.
The PEPFAR First Street Stage during HIFA was first held in 2014 where it became popular with young people.
The stage provided HIV testing and counseling services; conducted blood collection; a donor recruitment and retention exercise; distributed condoms; taught young people how to prevent HIV infection as well as how to access antiretroviral therapy and other crucial information services.