The Zimbabwean capital is currently throbbing with a dizzying array of cultural activities and visitors from all over the world – including artists, industry professionals and music lovers. This can mean only one thing: it’s HIFA time again!
The 16th annual Harare International Festival of Arts kicked off on a high note on the night of Tuesday 28 April with the award-winning Victoria Falls-based band, Mokoomba, who set the tone for a fun-filled week with their energetic opening show, suitably dubbed ‘The Power of Many’, on the ZOL Main stage.
HIFA runs until Sunday 3 May. Like in all previous editions, HIFA gives a vital boost to local tourism as the world converges in the capital to consume diverse cultural products over six exciting days. This year’s festival hosts musical acts in all genres, from local traditional sounds to European classical artists and everything in-between. The line-up includes African heavyweights such as: Salif Keita (Mali), Chico Antonio (Mozambique), Kyle Shepherd (SA), Derek Gripper (SA), Jackson Wahengo (Namibia), M.anifest (Ghana), Kaakie (Ghana), Ronald Kibirige (Uganda), Silas Miami (Kenya), Tcheka (Cape Verde), Somi (Rwanda/Uganda/US), Zal Sissokho (Senegal/Canada) and Taarab/Kidumbak Ensemble (Zanzibar, Tanzania).
HIFA also boasts numerous artists from further afield. These include Iyco and DJ Juri from Japan, Keola and Moanalani Beamer (Hawaii USA), Lauri Porra and Tuomo Prättälä from Finland, Blinders (Poland), Digitzz (Netherlands), Erich Oskar Huetter (Austria), Killian Unger (Germany), Louisa Sobral (Portugal), Lula Pena (Portugal), Sergio Perere (Brazil), Giovanni Agostini (Venezuela), Heidi (Mexico), Will McNicol (UK) and American performers such as James Valenti, Krysty Swann, Laquita Mitchell, Indra Thomas, Walter Klauss and Gerald Steichen.
And of course HIFA is a platform for local talent too! Zimbabwean acts on the bill include Hope Masike, Netsayi, Tariro NeGitare, Buffalo Souljah, Blaq Pearl, Eve Kawadza, Guspy Warrior, Victor Kunonga and many others.
Music In Africa is attending HIFA and will be participating in various events aimed at industry professionals during the festival, such as the Arts and Culture Practitioners’ Get-Together on Wednesday 29 April and a speed-networking Arts Market between practitioners and artists the following day, both at the National Gallery.
Launched by Manuel Bagoro in 1999, HIFA is now considered one of Africa’s leading art festivals. Manuel Bagoro, HIFA’s founder and artistic director, recently told the Turkish Anadolu Agency (AA): “The festival is a statement about something powerful; something about the role that the arts play and about the future of Zimbabwe.” Bagoro described the weeklong festival as a “unifying agent” for artists all over the world. “It’s also about how powerful it can be when people come together, whether audiences, donors, funders or artists,” he said.
Maria Wilson, HIFA’s executive director, explained to AA: “HIFA is a non-racial, multi-gender, multicultural, multi-political, multi-aged event that shows what Zimbabwe could be. Hence, the 2015 HIFA’s theme is ‘Articulate’.” In an interview with Zimbabwe’s Herald, Wilson said Harare needs an injection like the one it gets from HIFA. “It is not political but a celebration of our artists, our diversity and everything Zimbabwean,” she said.