Sungura artistes furious over Hifa exclusion

HARARE - Sungura musicians have hit out at the Harare International Festival of the Arts (Hifa) for excluding Zimbabwe’s most popular music genre from this year’s edition that began on April 28 and will end on Sunday.

William Tsandukwa, the manager of sungura kingpin Alick Macheso, told the Daily News that the Tafadzwa singer is very keen to perform at Hifa again but the organisers have not given him another chance.

“We performed at Hifa a few years back and we are still waiting for another chance,” said Tsandukwa.

“The last time we performed it was after we had been invited by the festival.  The response was very good so we are surprised at the snub. We do not know their opinion of a sungura musicians but it is sad because our genre is the most popular in Zimbabwe.”

Macheso’s manager added that in previous years the sungura star was allegedly not considered because of lack new material.

“They once said they would invite us again after we had released a new album and in 2012 we did that but still no invitation came our way,” said Tsandukwa.

Award-winning music star Leonard Zhakata is convinced that Hifa looks down upon sungura music.

“I was actually pleasantly surprised when Macheso was invited to perform at Hifa because the organisers of the festival appear uninterested in sungura music,” said Zhakata.

“Maybe it has something to do with Hifa’s policy. I feel sungura is not seriously considered by the organisers. I used to apply to perform at Hifa but nothing has materialised so I have given up.”

Dendera star Suluman Chimbetu, who has been a regular performer at the festival, is not part of the Hifa programme this year.

Chimbetu’s publicist Joe Nyamungoma said their failure to take part in this year was possibly because they applied late.

“Sulu was keen perform there again but I think we applied late for an opportunity to perform at Hifa this year,” said Nyamungoma.

Chimbetu last performed at the annual Hifa in 2013.Last year he missed the arts showcase because his annual United Kingdom trip coincided with Hifa.

Epworth-based comedian-cum-sungura artiste Freddy Manjalima, who is better known as Kapfupi, has called on Hifa to educate sungura artistes on how they can be considered for the event.

“It is our wish to perform at such an event but we do not know how to go about it,” said Sam Manjalima, who manages Kapfupi’s affairs.

However, Hifa publicist Tafadzwa Simba said Hifa is a multidisciplinary festival that caters for various music genres and as such sungura artistes should not expect preferential treatment.

“There are no quotas at HIFA. The programme is just put in place every year with a view of variety. It would be unfair to all other Zimbabwean artists to imply Sungura is the only Zimbabwean art form. There are over 1000 Zimbabwean artists at HIFA, their art forms should also be respected,” he said.

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