Hifa sizzles despite sound glitch

HARARE - For the past 18 years, the Harare International Festival of Arts (Hifa) has deservedly earned a reputation as a stickler for time and order.

But on Tuesday night it did not go according to script for Zimbabwe’s biggest arts event.

The festival’s opening show, a new-look collaboration of southern African musicians known as Mahube, which was directed by multi-award-winning Steve Dyer and his son Bokani, started about 45 minutes late due to a technical glitch.

The uncharacteristic slip-up, however, could not take the gloss off a truly wonderful show. Once the concert started, the long delay — by Hifa standards — was quickly forgotten by the crowd.

Mahube, which was part of the first Hifa in 1999, bounced back this year with a new-look line-up that included an ensemble that included music superstar Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi, Steve Dyer (South Africa), Botswana-based Bokani (piano and keyboards), Mozambican songstress Xixel Langa as well as South Africans Siya Makuzeni (vocals and trombone), Mbuso Khoza (vocals) and Cameron Ward on lead guitar.

Zimbabwe was well-represented in the revived Mahube in the form of Hope Masike (mbira and vocals), Josh Meck (bass guitar), Sam Mataure (drums) and Othnell “Mangoma” Moyo on percussion.

The beautifully-choreographed show also featured several local dancers and dance groups namely Dance Trust of Zimbabwe/ National Ballet of Zimbabwe, Breakthrough Productions, Jerahuni Movement Factory, M & M Dance Factory, AfriKera Arts Trust and Zimboys Acrobats.

Dyer, who led a band called Southern Freeway in Zimbabwe in the early 1990s before relocating to his homeland, South Africa in 1993, kicked off the show with one of his old hits before his compatriot Khoza — a well-travelled jazz musician — sent the fairly big audience into a trance with his haunting voice.

The three female musicians on the bill refused to be outdone. Makuzeni, who was named Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz last year, justified her billing with a polished performance of three songs including her remake of the late Miriam Makeba’s hit Pata Pata.

Mozambican energy god Langa also wowed the crowd with intricate dance moves but there was no way she was going to outperform Hope Masike who had the benefit of home advantage.

Masike sent the crowd into delirium with the hit Ndire Ndire after which she teamed up with Tuku to perform the song Hondo.

But the highlight of the night as expected belonged to old master of song —Tuku. He signed off the night in spectacular fashion with a performance of his old hit Ziwere much to the delight of the fans who sang along with him throughout his performance.

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