By Jonathan Mbiriyamveka
HARARE – The curtain came down on the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA), with a spectacular Closing Night performed by Ghanaian superstar Habib Koite and friends who included Zimbabwe’s Oliver Mtukudzi and Cameroonian Kareyce Fotso amid a flurry of fireworks display.
Famed for being Africa’s largest international arts festival, the six-day indaba ran under the theme “Staging an Intervention” which was a reflection of how arts can be an antidote to some of the problems affecting the continent’s ordinary citizens.
The first three days were marked by low turnout perhaps due to low disposable incomes currently hitting Zimbabwe and the fact that last year’s festival was a non- event.
There was little hype surrounding the festival as is normally the case in previous years.
However, in the performing arts such as theatre, dance and spoken word, the festival was a huge success.
Highlights of the festival included a production by Brian Geza called “Broken Pavements,” which was a hit among festival goers, the “Crazy Poets” featuring dub poet Albert Nyathi, musician Dereck Mpofu and guitarist Clive Mono Mukundu.
Basically Nyathi, a renowned poet, fused his poetry with music to engage the audiences.
In theatre, “Tumaini”, a play that sets out to show the push and pull factors of migration got a standing ovation at Reps Theatre Upstairs.
The physical theatre production proved popular among theatre lovers as it was the first time that such play was staged.
Physical theatre basically means that things that are normally spoken in theatre are actually shown.
This form of theatre is engaging as it is easy to follow.
The play has a local twist with global appeal about migration of people.
One of the amazing shows was dubbed ‘The Dance We Made’ which engaged the crowds to perform their own dances which were filmed and posted online for the world to see.
The collaborative project saw the return of Tim Casson, thanks to the British Council for supporting the initiative.
Casson was joined by talented contemporary and award winning dancer Maylene Chenjerai, Catherine Douglas, Blessed Rukweza, Admire Mwashita, Abel Mafuleni and Tinashe Muza to create a dance piece by Hararians.
What was all the more exciting was that more than 50 members of Harare public each day contributed to one unique performance.
“The Dance We Made” was a celebration of the city, its people and the power of collective creative action.
Maria Wilson, the executive director of HIFA said the 2017 edition was miraculously staged due to donor fatigue.
“Taking up HIFA 2017 has been difficult decision but made because of an overwhelming belief in what the festival achieves.
“The economic environment is beyond harsh. Yet, without the support of these imaginative, committed and patriotic companies, there would be no HIFA 2017.
“The donor and embassy community truly care about what happens to the Zimbabwean people,” she said.