Hifa continues community projects

HARARE - The Harare International Festival of the Arts (Hifa), which will hold its 18th edition from May 1 to 6 this year, has confirmed that it will continue its community engagement through various projects.

The community projects are part of the annual fête’s plan to boost the community in which it operates.

The festival, which employs hundreds directly while also giving a boost to the tourism and hospitality sector, says it will engage in various undertakings as part of it efforts to bring attention to the fact that “Harare is Hifa’s home” as espoused by a social responsibility programme by that moniker.

The programme has come up with its own hashtag (#hhh) in an effort to spread the message of community responsibility amongst Harare residents.

In line with the social responsibility programme, Hifa aims to fully commission another of its projects where a free public toilet for women is established in the city centre.

“Public ablution facilities in Harare are somewhat overburdened and those bearing the brunt of this burden are women,” Hifa executive director Maria Wilson noted, adding that the festival will work with the City of Harare to avail a renovated public lavatory dedicated for use by women.

According to Wilson, Hifa will also assist in the of tackling drug abuse scourge that continues to blight the entertainment sector.

“There is a great need for addressing the issue of drug abuse which has become more rampant especially amongst the youth —which is a social group on which Hifa has always placed special focus. Hifa will be working with various partners in not only exploring ways in which art therapy can be incorporated into drug rehabilitation efforts, but also address the fact that there is no dedicated rehabilitation facility in the country,” said Wilson.

As per tradition, Wilson said Hifa will once again train and employ 60 street youth to be part of the event staff as in previous years. Not only will the youths be trained in job-specific matters but they will also receive life skills training from various professionals in the health sector.

Hifa believes this street youth programme is important in the efforts to promote positive attitude changes from both the public as well as the participants from the programme.

As part of its youth assistance initiative, Hifa is piloting a project on push carts that will be used by youths to collect rubbish in several test areas in Harare’s high density suburbs. Though they will be volunteers, the youths will receive modest stipends.

First staged in 1999, Hifa is an annual multi-genre showcase of artistic offerings from around Zimbabwe and the globe. Attracting an average of 1 000 Zimbabwean artists, 200 visiting artists representing at least 20 nationalities per year, the festival has in recent times been adjudged by CNN to be amongst the top 10 in Africa.

Last year, Hifa was headlined by Malian music superstar Habib Koité who officially closed the internationally-acclaimed festival. Hifa 2017 also featured Zimbabwean music legend Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi who performed as part of Mahube.

Other members of Mahube were Steve Dyer (SA), Bokani Dyer (Botswana/SA), Mbuso Khoza (SA), Xixel Langa (Mozambique), Hope Masike, Sam Mataure, Josh Meck and Mangoma Moyo (Zimbabwe).

In 2015, another Malian star Salif Keita was the headline act.

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