Hifa roars to life

HARARE - Fireworks are expected in Harare as the 18th annual Harare International Festival of Arts (Hifa) kicks off in the capital tonight, with several dance, music, art, theatre performances spreading over six days till Sunday.

The festival which will feature a number of political showcases from picture exhibitions to electoral advocacy works is running under the theme: “We Count”.

The opening show will start at 7:30pm at the main stage in the Harare Gardens and will serve a concoction of 100 singers, dancers, acrobats, musicians, and puppeteers from all over the world.

The show will feature singer Prudence Katomeni, Dereck Mpofu, Masa Caroleen, Haitian/American vocalist Sarah Elizabeth Charles, American pianist Jarrett Cherner, Israeli vocalist Judah Gavra, queen of mbira Hope Masike, Dreams Band, Slavic Soul Party, AfriKera Dance Theatre, Zimspiration choir, Makishi dancers, Giant Puppets, and the Move On Project featuring Enrico de Agostini and Italian guitarist Andrea Valeri.

“Through the eyes of Zimbabwe’s future, we ask: what are you most proud of?

“Raise your voice in the largest and most vibrant cultural celebration of the year,” Hifa programme reads.

The opening night show director James Blaszko said: “This is a major cultural moment for Zimbabwe on the international stage, and I am thrilled to collaborate with so many stars to make it unforgettable.”

The show’s musical director is Blessing Chimanga, dance curator and choreographer Soukaina Edom with the AfriKera team Maylene Chenjerayi, Victor Peturo, Blessed Rukweza.

Samantha Matemadombo and Colin Ratisai are the costume designers.

Apart from the opening night show, the day will also have various acts including from Midlands Christian College as well as Gemma Griffiths.

Theatre production “The Borrowdale Brooke’s premier matron” will also be showing today where Cynthia Mupasa, wants to fire her long serving maid Emotion, but she finds it difficult to get a suitable replacement.

What follows is a dramatic series of comic relief set against the background of the November 2017 events in Harare, which sometimes take centre stage. It’s a belly laugh of a performance!

After the opening show there will be Djs Moody and Vuli and DJ TK Beats.

The festival will feature musicians such as Vabati VaJehovha, Freshly Grounds and Bali Bandits among others.

This year will see the third running of what has become its annual DJ party called Sonic Wonderland. It is basically a mix of local and visiting Electronic Dance Music, the late-running gig on the Saturday night of Hifa began in 2015 and has now become a regular feature on the Festival’s programming.

This year, Sonic Wonderland III’s headline acts will include a duo from the Netherlands going by the moniker Bali Bandits.

Their product has been described as being like Selena Gomez with the difference being the singing and acting background. And, of course, they are two dudes.

Hailing from Bali Street in Amsterdam (hence the name), the duo’s releases on labels like Hexagon, Future House Music, Wolv and Revealed Recordings took the charts by storm, captured a rapidly growing fan-base and made superstar-DJ’s like Martin Garrix, Galantis and Zedd come knocking for official remixes.

In their live sets they flirt with the unpredictable, whilst the music is carefully selected and prepared for people to have what the group calls “that unique and lively Bali Bandits experience: A music box on acid!”.

Be that as it may, there will be no actual “acid” at the show as there will be a strict “zero-tolerance policy on substance abuse” during Hifa according to Festival organisers.

Vabati VaJehovha are appearing for the first time.

Hifa associate executive director —Tafadzwa Simba said there are going to be a number of schools that are going to perform at this year’s festival.

“On the coke green there will be Midlands Christian College, Harare International School, Prudence Mabhena and Vabati VaJehova will also be there too.

“In terms of dance, we’ve got a group that’s coming from China as well ... another from Portugal, just a few highlights, you will be able to see full bios and the programme online next week,” Simba said at a press conference held in conjunction with one of the sponsors Old Mutual.

Vabati VaJehova, are back in the limelight after collaboration with ZimDancehall guru Winky D titled Ngirozi.

Zimbabwe is geared for a dance with South African Afro-fusion music group Freshlyground which was blocked from performing at the Hifa in 2014.

Freshlyground will form part of the highlights of the six-day festival after former president Robert Mugabe’s downfall.

The group believed that their failure to enter Zimbabwe after being blocked by the country’s immigration had been as a result of their Chicken to Change song which mocked Mugabe.

In 2010 South African Afro-pop band Freshlyground also did a controversial Mugabe puppet video from their song Chicken to Change song.

This time Hifa organisers said everything was in order for the group to perform, also pinning their hopes on the “new dispensation”.

“This group approached us as university students ... and we said okay, let’s hear what they can do, they were incredible. They thank Hifa that we gave them their first concerts ever.

“Their 2014 show had been sold out and it is yet to be seen if they will fill up their show venue this time,” said Simba.

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