Festival founder and artistic director, Manuel Bagorro has likened his pet project to a “spirited teenager” –– a sentiment resonating with this year’s theme: A Show of Spirit.
This show of spirit, organisers say, points to the vibrant nature of the festival as well as the passion and aspiration of audiences.
“We are celebrating the capacity of the arts to impart courage, compassion and determination, and calling on our audience to boldly embrace the creative force within all of us,” the Hifa promotional brochure reads.
A host of local, regional and international arts and culture exhibitions are set to be showcased through the mediums of theatre, dance, music, street performance, spoken word, craft and visual arts.
If the festival’s 13-year history is anything to go by, opening night is usually a not- to-be -missed affair as it usually sets the tone for the preceding days. This year Harare will be set alight, literally, with organisers promising a brilliant fireworks display coupled with a “moving and memorable” presentation directed by Tumbuka Contemporary Dance Company founding artistic director, Neville Campbell, on the Telecel Main Stage.
Opera lovers are in for a treat this year with a coterie of American opera stars among whom are sopranos Laquita Mitchell, Camille Zamora, tenor Michael Slattery and baritone Lester Lynch. They, along with local vocalists, are billed to perform on Wednesday at the Telecel Main Stage.
On the dance front, Between the Lines, a contemporary dance piece by Harold George and Jazz Tap Ensemble, are some of the acts to look out for. Another attraction for dance lovers will be the Live Vibe on Tuesday at the 7Arts theatre featuring six local dance troupes as well as a “Super Crew”, led by Avant Garde Dance artistic director Tony Adigun.
The National Ballet of Zimbabwe will on Saturday and Sunday present On the Rise premised on the re-birth and a new blossoming that comes after devastation.
The National Ballet has become a permanent feature on the Hifa scene, building quite a following over the years.
In the realm of theatre, the play Cockroach, produced by the same team that presented The Crossing at Hifa 2009, is set for Tuesday while The Dogs Must be Crazy –– which explores some of the pressing concerns of our age –– is slated for Wednesday. Not to be overlooked is the hilarious Zambezi News, created by Comrade Fatso, and Outspoken with cameo appearances by the likes of comedian Michael Kudakwashe.
On the musical front the acts to look out for are Tumi & the Volume, a Johannesburg-based outfit whose output is a blend of samba, reggae and poetry. Also, local songbird Edith WeUtonga will be collaborating with Stunner and Ba Shupi on Sunday.
On Thursday mbira maestro Hope Masike will be strumming her stuff on the Lay’s Global Stage. After a year away in Norway and a new album Mbira, Love and Chocolate, Masike will be keen to reassert herself as the “Princess of mbira”.
One of the major musical highlights in Saturday’s line-up is the return of local reggae-dancehall star Winky D to the Telecel Main Stage, after his scintillating performance last year.
To cap it all Senegalese music legend, Ismael Lô, will grace the star-studded day on the Hifa Main Stage. The “Bob Dylan of Africa”, as he has been called, will also bring the curtain down along with superstar Oliver Mtukudzi on Sunday night.
As has become customary, the festival will spill over into Harare’s First Street between noon and 2pm during the course of the festival giving Harareans who otherwise would not be able to attend a glimpse of Hifa.
A bit of advice from the organisers: book in advance for the shows you want to see. Popular artists will sell out. Shows start on time so be punctual to avoid being turned away.
Forewarned is forearmed!