The Sunday Mail
EVERY year, multitudes flock to the iconic Great Zimbabwe monuments to admire the ancient city, which is still intact centuries after being built without mortar.
These numbers are expected to soar with the birth of the Great Zimbabwe International Festival set to run from September 28 to 30 — encompassing music, crafts and spoken word.
But while this is a good initiative, some tourism stakeholders are worried that staging some of the festival’s activities around the monuments might affect the ecosystem.
“We will not interrupt the ecosystem,” said founder and chief executive officer of the festival, Eugene Majuru, adding, “This is an issue that was discussed with the team from National Museums and Monuments extensively. We made enquiries and got the best advice from the professionals.”
Quite often, when people host such festivals at these heritage sites, they neglect the local folks. Usually the ticket pricing is too high for a majority of the locals. This is the case with the Victoria Falls Carnival. Besides making money from offering cheap accommodation to festival attendees, locals never get to experience the magic of the festival.
But it appears Majuru and his team have a different approach.
“The issue of domestic tourism was carefully looked into and as a way of promoting domestic tourism, the first day of the festival will be a free day so we can get many people coming to attend.
“The more people attending means the stall holders will be able to sell more,” highlighted the UK-based Majuru.
Besides the free day, locals will also benefit from various jobs that will be created during the festival.
Majuru added that the ticket prices will not be exorbitant.
The new festival comes at a time when a number of festivals are folding, being postponed or operating on shoestring budgets.
Said Majuru: “We do not have a headline sponsor but rather have it open to every Zimbabwean to come forward and contribute what they can. This brings a sense of belonging and everyone can take part with pride.
“However, we have since partnered with various organisations such as Hevoi FM, the main broadcaster in Masvingo, Masvingo City Council and the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority. We are still getting others on board.”
Local artistes are lined up to provide explosive entertainment during the debut edition of the festival.
“We are taking care of our own Zimbabwean people so this year’s festival will only have Zimbabwean artistes. Next year, we will add international acts. We would like to showcase our own talent first before we bring in international artistes. Zimbabwe has a lot of talent so the idea is to promote local talent as much as possible. Our headline act will be Andy Muridzo,” revealed Majuru.
The festival will also come with a section for beauty pageants. The ambitious team planning the festival believes that this is a critical component with regards to marketing the city of Masvingo, where Great Zimbabwe is located.
“Miss Great Zimbabwe’s role will be to promote brand Masvingo, there is so much that can be done to promote Masvingo. The winner will work with full support of the Great Zimbabwe Festival team during her tenure, which runs for one year,” said Majuru.