The Sunday Mail
ORGANISERS of the annual Intwasa Arts Festival koBulawayo must put a “closed for renovations” tag on their project.
Intwasa is to Bulawayo what the Harare International Festival of the Arts (Hifa) is to Harare. They are both festivals that bring together the various manifestations of the arts.
Intwasa has not only hit rock bottom in terms of standards, but has also started going farther down. Surprisingly, the festival organisers appear happy, celebrating mediocrity by continuing to host this event some three or so years after it started showing signs of rapid decline.
Nothing, including their partnership with Zimbabwe Tourism Authority’s (ZTA) annual Sanganai/Hlanganani, could save the 13th edition of the event from being an absolute catastrophe.
Certainly, organisers of Intwasa need to go back to the drawing board and find ways to breathe fresh life into the once revered arts fiesta.
A combination of factors, among them lack of top attractions, predictability through the use of same groups over the years and a lackadaisical approach, which resulted in the September 30 “Comedy Night” being dropped, has had adverse effects on the Intwasa brand.
The Comedy Night was supposed to feature Clive Chigubhu and Babongile Sikhonjwa among others. Chigubhu apologised to his fans via social media saying: “My apology for the inconvenience, for reasons beyond my control the show has been cancelled. I really appreciate your support.”
Granted, organisers of the event just like everyone else in the country are currently besieged by the ongoing economic squeeze, which has resulted in most corporates/sponsors developing a wait-and-see approach but that is no excuse for delivering half-baked products.
Rather, Intwasa organisers should take cue from their Harare counterparts. Hifa could not take place in 2016 as they needed to raise funds, resulting in them returning this year after what many dubbed a “strategic retreat”.
Intwasa spokesperson Nkululeko Nkala reckons the festival could have been done better.
“The festival happened within our means but obviously we would have wanted it to be bigger and better. The economy is not doing well at present and resources permitting we will do better in future editions,” said Nkala.
One of the festival organisers is on record highlighting a 2014 crowd of between 400 and 500 people as one of the biggest paying crowds for the festival. Which other sign would one need to acknowledge all is not well with the festival?
A 400 crowd at Hifa would be insignificant for any of their major shows, whichever day. The calamities are not limited to Intwasa though. Officials from the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry must have made originators of the word carnival froth during the World Tourism Day (WTD) celebrations that were held in Bulawayo on September 27 as part of Sanganai/Hlanganani.
It appears last year’s disaster in Kwekwe during similar celebrations was not enough to drive the Ministry of Tourism officials out of slumber. For the second year running the event was poorly coordinated and there was insufficient advertising. Most residents were not aware of Tourism Day celebrations let alone the so-called carnival.
A handful of people that attended the march that masqueraded as a carnival were congregants from Christ Embassy Church, schoolchildren and curious individuals that joined the weak float and subsequently the final venue, Large City Hall car park.
ZTA boss Karikoga Kaseke distanced his administration from the flop. He said the authority only rendered support in the form of accommodation and office space to ministry officials who were organising that particular event.
“When the ministry did WTD last year, the media was very critical of the day and when we met at the ministry for a review of what happened on the day, the minister was very clear to ministry officials that we have an implementing agent in the ministry which is ZTA.
“There is nothing policy about organising the WTD and he directed that it should be done by ZTA. When the minister gave that directive, we thought it was enough and we worked very closely with the ministry in organising this day, but I think somewhere along the line the nuts went off and the ministry said they were now organising WTD,” said Kaseke.