A pan-African Exchange at Hifa 2009

A PARTICULARLY noteworthy and recurrent aspect of Hifa is the pan-African element of Hifa’s international programming.


Manuel Bagorro, the festival’s artistic director, believes there is always a special significance in Zimbabwean artists getting the opportunity to interact with their artistic counterparts from the African continent.

This is mainly due to the fact that similarities in experiences, cultural paradigms and historical backgrounds allow for greater empathy between visiting pan-African artists and their Zimbabwean colleagues.

The Hifa 2009 programme, as in previous years, reflects this. With African artists coming to the festival not only from the continent but also from countries in the African-diaspora, the festival seeks to enable dialogue among pan-African artists.

Perhaps the most well known (in Zimbabwe) artist to come to Hifa this year is Malian guitarist Habib Koité. Koité comes from a noble line of Khassonke griots, traditional troubadours who provide wit, wisdom and musical entertainment at social gatherings and special events. His mixture of modern and traditional Malian instruments is a potent example for local musicians.

From across the Limpopo comes Malaika with their sensational chart success, respected album releases, dazzling live performances…. Malaika are truly an Afro-pop phenomenon. With their debut album, the outfit hit multiple platinum. There is simply no group or artist who has ever managed such a feat with a debut album — they have much advice to offer their northern brothers and sisters.

Sara Tavares, the acclaimed Portuguese singer-songwriter, blends gospel, funk and soul with her Cape Verdean musical roots to great effect. She is an exceptional singer/songwriter who performed at Hifa on the Main Stage in 2001, receiving a rapturous response from the huge audience.

Penelope Jane Dunlop also known as PJ Powers or Thandeka has enjoyed a highly successful musical career in South Africa spanning more than 15 years, during which time she has been one of the few white entertainers who crossed cultural barriers and are loved by both black and white audiences alike. PJ Powers will collaborate with local favourites the Rusike Brothers.

With a BA in Education and an MA in Literature, Ugandan poet Susan Nalugwa Kiguli will be an especial addition to the HIVOS Spoken Word programme, with much to share with her Zimbabwean counterparts.

Local brass players who interact with Gangbe Brass Band from Benin will never be the same. They combine traditional Benin sounds with those of military brass bands, voodoo ritual chants and rhythms, scratchy American jazz records, with a dash of Fela’s Afrobeat in a manner offering local musicians much to learn.

Omar Sosa is a member of the African Diaspora from Cuba. This multitalented Jazz musician draws inspiration from across cultures, using the energy and storytelling of hip-hop, the free spirited experimentation of jazz, the heartfelt emotion of an Afro-Ecuadorian choir and the sensuality of popular Cuban music.

Dutch-Zimbabwean singer songwriter Rina Mushonga returned to Zimbabwe in 2008 for two reasons: to explore and connect with her musical heritage and to further immerse herself in the Zimbabwean cultural scene. The result: a joint musical journey with the local group Zimfellas. — Own Correspondent.

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