Hifa reimburses Freshlyground fans

HARARE - The Harare International Festival for the Arts (Hifa) is refunding all music fans that had purchased tickets in advance for the Freshlyground concert.

The controversial South African group were deported by immigration officials upon arrival at the Harare International Airport on Sunday.

The group was supposed to perform as the Hifa’s closing act the same day.

News of the band’s deportation was received with disappointment by music fans who were anticipating a big gig.

Hifa Director Manuel Bagorro said they would refund everyone.

“Our box office will be open to refund people their money. There are days of Hifa that are full of joy, celebration, laughter, and wonderful things. Then there are some days filled with challenges and great sadness. Today is a sad day in lots of ways.

“Our wonderful group of closing artistes, Freshlyground, were turned away at Harare International Airport. They are a phenomenal group of artistes.

“They sent their best wishes, great respect, and their enormous admiration to the citizens and people of Zimbabwe and Hifa audience,” he said.

In place of Freshlyground, Jamarama, Tariro Negitare, Switch On To Gospel and Ammara Brown performed.

Soon after being deported, they tweeted, “We regret to announce that we were denied entry into Zim today ‘reasons not given’. We are hugely disappointed. Cluck cluck cluck”.

This tweet showed no remorse as “cluck cluck cluck” is a sound made by a chicken.

It was a sombre atmosphere as people had been looking forward to the performance since the programme was announced.

Freshlyground publicist, only identified as Steff in an email response said they were not given any official reason for the refusal of entry into the country.

“Unfortunately, there is not a lot I can tell you at the moment. The band arrived at the border yesterday (Sunday) and was presented with refusal to enter Zimbabwe forms, no official reason was given.

“The band were asked to sign the forms and refused, but were advised that it would make no difference to the outcome.

“Our understanding from the promoter was that everything was in order for the group to enter Zimbabwe and that all parties had followed the visa/permit requirements,” said the publicist.

This is the second time that the band has been denied entry into Zimbabwe after it released the controversial Chicken to Change song which mocks President Robert Mugabe.

“Freshlyground had issued a statement last week, saying they did not intend to make any political statements at the Hifa concert.

“The band is deeply disappointed as they were very much looking forward to closing Hifa and being back in Zimbabwe after such a long time.

“They are very sorry for the disappointment that 5 000 of their fans must have felt not to have them be allowed entry.

“Freshlyground are a group that love Zimbabwe and have very much enjoyed performing to Zimbabwean audiences in the past.

“They have great respect and admiration for both the artistic community of Zimbabwe and the citizens of Zimbabwe.

“They hope that there will be an opportunity to return to Zimbabwe in the future,” said the publicist.

Pettinah Gappah, a lawyer and writer had something to say about the deportation.

“It is a pity that the government has not yet learnt the lesson that to censor something is to give it power. In this case, they are turning a fairly mediocre and even pedestrian song by a pleasant enough group into some sort of cause celebre.

“Had Freshlyground been allowed to perform, they would have played their one hour, life would have gone on, and in about a week, people would have forgotten they were ever here.

“But ultimately, the buck has to stop with Hifa because they must have anticipated the problem, but failed to do anything about it in time.”

Comments (2)

that thing they are calling a song is not really a song but a political commercial for the mdc ,if it was a song the better ,one can not visit a place were you do not respect the leader ,people shld know this has nothing to do with mugabe as a president but as a zimbabwean if you mess with a zimbabwean you are treated as such good luck freshly ground not so fresh after all

eish! - 7 May 2014

Me and my wife can shout and call each other all sorts of names but for some one to come to my house and do that to my wife! I kill you.

Tricks - 7 May 2014

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