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Harare Festival Offers Brief Reprieve from Zimbabwe Woes

  • VOA Africa

HIFA

An annual arts festival in Harare proved a great relief for many Zimbabweans whose daily lives involve trying to find cash, jobs or something to talk about other than politics.

Hundreds of Zimbabweans seeking some fun, laughter and entertainment showed up at 17 venues dotted in the capital, taking part in the 2017 Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA), which started in 1999.

The six-day annual festival featured a vibrant display of local and regional arts and culture, and provided opportunities for artists to share ideas, make contacts and showcase their talent in various disciplines including fashion, spoken word, music, theatre and dance, among others.

Attendants to the Festival had a wide array of performances and events to attend, featuring local, regional and international talent, from countries such as South Africa, Turkey, Ghana, Italy and Japan.

Among the performers was Dyer-Logue, a collaboration featuring veteran South African jazz artist, Steve Dyer and his son, award winning pianist, Bokani Dyer.

The pair performed a show featuring music influenced by experiences in Botswana where Steve was based and Bokani born in the 1980's.

"I think very many different artists that come from not just the region but from outside it expands the mind so in as much as Africa needs to assert itself we also need to see what interesting things are happening in the rest of the world," said Dyer.

Zimbabwean reggae-dancehall artist Winky D headlined at the event, attracting hundreds of revellers with his upbeat music.

Legendary musician Oliver Mtukudzi, also joined Winky D on stage, delighting many fans. Other artists that Mtukudzi collaborated with at the Festival included musicians Tariro neGitare and Hope Masike.

The festival was held at a time when cash shortages in the last 13 months have forced banks to impose daily maximum withdrawal limits for most Zimbabweans of sometimes as little as $20 per day.

The cash shortages have come against the backdrop of slowing economic growth and a devastating drought that has left millions facing hunger.

Despite the challenges, many who attended said they still had a good time.

"I like this year's edition of HIFA because there are lots of Zimbabwean shows and we get to see Zimbabweans who are based outside the country and are coming back with their companies and they are coming back with their acts so I'm really excited about this year's HIFA because of that," said Chido Mushaya, a Harare resident.

"2017 Zimbabwe right now we are in Harare and it's tough. We are using bond notes, US dollars and all kinds of currencies but to get that currency, to get the money in fact to even get it in your bank is really difficult," said Anthony Mutambira another Harare resident.

Founder and artistic director for HIFA, Manuel Bagorro said the variety and intensity of the Festival has helped to keep participation strong.

"What people really love is the intense six days, that's what's important about the festival, the kind of melting pot of different type of artists coming together. You can hear an opera gala is rehearsing next door and we have got mbira players in the stage in the opposite direction. All of those mixtures are important," said Bagorro.

This year's Festival ran under the theme, 'HIFA 2017 Staging an Intervention', and came to a close on Sunday. (Reuters)

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