Poor turnout mars Zim Arts Festival

HARARE - The inaugural two-day Zimbabwe Arts Festival (Zarts), dedicated to local artistes only, made a stuttering debut at Alexandra Sports Club in Harare on Friday and Saturday, with only scores of fans turning up.

Zarts, organised by Rumbidzai, the daughter of the late ex-foreign affairs minister Stan Mudenge, was headlined by the red-hot Jah Prayzah, Ammara Brown, Winky D , Soul Jah Love, music superstar Oliver “Tuku’ Mtukudzi and Sulumani Chimbetu among others.

But in a move that choked Zarts, Jah Prayzah, Ammara and Tuku performed at the free Westgate Christmas Lights Ceremony hosted by Old Mutual Properties on Friday night. The fact that thousands had the chance to attend the Westgate Christmas Lights Ceremony which spilled into Saturday morning effectively sealed Zarts’ fate.

With Zarts tickets going for $10 on the day, it was not surprising that music fans opted to watch the Zimbabwe’s newest festival’s trump cards-Jah Prayzah, Ammara and Tuku- for free at the Westgate gig that attracted a bumper crowd.

To their credit, the artists who performed at Zarts still gave it their all despite playing before a disappointing crowd.  Ammara, who performed at Zarts on Friday night after she had illuminated the Westgate Christmas Lights Ceremony, impressed with an energetic and well-choreographed performance.

Suluman, who had performed at a gig hosted by Ecosure on Saturday afternoon, delivered a top-notch performance on the final day of Zarts before scores of animated fans. After Sulu it was the turn of Dadza D to demonstrate why many regard him as the best Zimdancehall performer alongside ninja president Winky D.

The honour of closing deservedly belonged to Tuku who delighted the paltry fans with a playlist which included old and new songs. Sadly such a performance could only be witness by a few lucky fans.

Others that impressed at the inaugural Zimbabwe Arts Festival were Mbira Dzenharira, Ba Shupi, a group from AfriKera Arts Trust, award winning soul outfit Soul Bone, DJ Tamuka, Judgement Yard and a DJ Mash up featuring several Zimbabwean DJs.