Hifa is well and truly here

Prince Mushawevato
HARARE Gardens has come out of its slumber as preparations for the annual Harare International Festival of the Arts hit full throttle.

The once sought-after entertainment venue has been quiet since an interdict by the Harare City Council a few years ago outlawing events that run late into the night.

However, the ban will be waived from May 2 to May 7 for the 17th edition of the six-day Hifa. Hifa, Zimbabwe’s biggest fete and one of the most popular internationally, did not take place last year due to financial constraints. However, Government, the private sector, the diplomatic community and development agencies have come through to guarantee the festival this year.

Tickets will – according to organisers – go on general sale this Saturday at Avondale Shopping Centre and Harare Gardens.

Tafadzwa Simba, Hifa’s associate executive director, said “Harare Gardens, the centre of the festival, has already been cordoned off with work having started on venue preparations on April 4. The iconic Hifa billboard over the entrance to the fiesta is already up and the air of anticipation has begun to sweep through the city. The ticketing system is being readied and ticket sales to the public will begin on April 22.”

Part of the preparatory work included bringing artistic directors, producers and buyers from around the world.

Hifa executive director Maria Wilson said they were thrilled the festival was taking place again.

“No matter what happens, Zimbabwe has won already because simply being able to bring together such a programme has been an incredible feat and the Zimbabwean people should thank the local artistes, local corporates and other partners who have played such a supportive role in bringing this Zimbabwean festival to the people,” said Wilson.

“Tuesday, May 2 is BancABC day, Wednesday, May 3 is CABS day, Thursday, May 4 is NMB Bank day and Friday, May 5 and Saturday, May 6 belong to large financial services companies whom we will reveal very soon according to timelines we have agreed according to their corporate branding manuals. The closing show and final day on Sunday May 7 is brought to us by Old Mutual.”

Apart from the yet-to-be-named companies, First Mutual Holdings Limited, Dawn Property Consultancy and GetBucks Zimbabwe are among Hifa’s 2017 partners.

Hifa is a vital cog of the arts, averaging participation by 1 000 local artistes and 230 international acts. Downstream jobs created by Hifa are found across a plethora of sectors, covering aviation, hotels and restaurants, crafts, ground transportation and security etcetera. A number of events have been lined for this year’s week-long fête, including a “speed-dating” session scheduled for May 5, where local artistes will get three minutes each to make their pitches to artistic directors. There will be a delegation from African Caribbean and Pacific Culture bloc, who will be at Hifa for networking purposes . This year’s festival is themed “Hifa 2017: Staging an Intervention”.

International stars Dr Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi (Zimbabwe), Amanda a la Banda (Italy), and Grammy-nominated Afro roots star-cum-humanitarian Rock Dawuni (Ghana) will be among acts marking the official opening.

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