The Sunday Mail
Takudzwa Chihambakwe and Andrew Moyo
HIFA stands out not only on the continent but the world at large because of the quality of the diverse art genres that are showcased during the six-day extravaganza.
Music, theatre, visual art, spoken word, crafts, film, fashion and storytelling are among the many art genres that are catered for at the festival. The 2017 edition, which wraps up tonight, had some spectacular performances that left the audience begging for more.
First up was the steadily growing comedy category. Hosted by Zimbabwe’s biggest comedian, Carl Joshua Ncube, the acts that participated, who were drawn from different parts of the world, did not disappoint.
Ncube, who was also doubling up as the producer of this year’s Hifa comedy programme, said he was thrilled with the numbers of people that attended the comedy shows.
“It’s really good to see the high numbers of people attending the comedy shows. I am really impressed and it shows that Zimbabweans love comedy and soon the following will increase,” said Ncube.
The CABS Opera Gala also lived to expectations. The show featured scenes and areas from some of the world’s most loved operas. Romance, drama, death and transformation all found a place in opera, a truly universal expression of profound human emotion.
The Lester Lynch directed gala also featured Zimspiration Choir, trained by Kundisai Mtero, and members of Baroque2000 led by the dazzlingly talented American pianist and conductor, Brian Holman.
Moving on to dance, topping the list was the Brian Geza choreographed production “Brocken Pavements”, a highly emotional performance featuring differently abled members of the 4GO10 Tribe.
It follows the real-life story of the lead dancer, Blessing Fire, who was born with a disability and wheelchair bound from childhood, exploring his journey to become one of the best dancers Zimbabwe has ever produced.
After the hour-long show, the entire auditorium broke out into deafening cheers as they had been blown away by this amazing story.
“We did not have any financial backing to put this production together, we just worked with the little that we had daily for two weeks and the results speak for themselves,” said Geza.
Second to Geza’s production was the Heather Walrond Company production, The Rising. The Fijian inspired act was so immersive to an extent that it felt as if the entire show was just five minutes long, yet it was a solid 45 minutes.
The empowering, highly charged dance show was complemented by palatable live music composed and played by multi award-winning musicians, Will McNicol and Luke Selby.
Fashion was also represented by some well-choreographed pop up installations. However, delays to start shows and some cancellations hampered the smooth flow of that section of the festival.
The crafts were also well represented by makers of baskets, mats and a whole lot of other accessories that got locals and foreigners excited, with some picking up an article or two.
The arts and crafts sections proved to be popular, especially during the afternoons, attracting reasonable numbers who were appreciating the innovative artistry on display.
Film was also added for the first time to the Hifa list and there were exciting film screenings that were made up of local and international productions.
To spice things up there was also an introduction of a virtual studio that got festival attendees excited about watching films in a whole different way.
While it was free to experience this technology, people had to make reservations and the large numbers of people curious to see what the fuss was about had all available slots for the whole festival fully booked by Thursday.
Onto music, the Prince Edward School Jazz Band showed that those who are heading the music department at the school know what they are doing as the young lads staged a mouthwatering performance that left parents and audience members with smiles slapped on their faces.
Although the festival had a slow start, Thursday night proved to be the turning point with scintillating performances that rocked the ZOL Main Stage. It was Cameroonian songbird Kareyce Fotso who got the ball rolling as she enchanted the crowd with her soulful Afro-folk melodies, producing one of the best performances at the festival.
The combination of her vocal abilities and skills on the guitar accompanied by the heartbeat African music, the djembe and modern drums gave the set a magnetic effect.
To shut off the night, EDM superstar Timo ODV and his South African compatriot Aidin Caye managed to give the youthful multiracial crowd that came through something to dance to.
With Caye having warmed up the stage, Timo ODV came and turned up the heat, displaying his skill both behind the decks and on the mike.
He had the crowd eating from his hands when he performed his hit songs that included “Save Me”, “Dancing Again”, “Make You Love Me”, “Find My Way” and “I need You”, among others.
At the end of his set, he had to be forced to power up his machine once again with the crowd singing the “One More” chorus which saw them being repaid with several other EDM mixes.
As for that sublime opening act with Mahube, if you missed, tough luck. We hope Hifa has those recordings somewhere, maybe they can even sell DVDs. It was a great start to the festival and hopefully tonight’s closing act will be equally scintillating if not better.