The annual Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) is back to its full six day format after a year of mini festivals.
In what organisers have called a ‘rebooted’ event, the festival will run from 2 to 7 May under the theme Staging an Intervention.
Explaining the theme, executive director Maria Wilson said, “We are coming in at a time when there is a lot of confusion and anxiety, not only in our country but all over the world. We are intervening saying let’s all convene and remember with joy what used to be Zimbabwe.”
Along with the theme comes a new look. “On the look we have a HIFA hand turning the knob…” said Wilson. “Let’s celebrate, let’s have joy, let’s be hopeful, let’s look to the future, let’s be positive, let’s get people into our country who have never been here before, let’s show them what we are.”
As usual, the festival comes with a combination of music, theatre, dance, visual art and craft. The much sought after opening show will be colourful, featuring icons like Oliver Mtukudzi and Steve Dyer who will work with different local and international artists. Themed ‘Let Our Song Be Sung’ the show will also feature dance, gymnastics and aerobatics.
Artists to perform include the high flying English artists Noah Stewart who will headline the Opera Gala. Also on the bill is Malian star Habib Koite, Greek pop artist Banda Magda, Ghananian afro-roots singer Rocky Dawuni, the Street Corner Outfit from the United States, and Nestayi and the Black Pressure representing Harare, among others.
New inclusions include two venues yet to be announced, screenings of short films, a virtual dome where people can escape reality into a virtual world, and two new sponsors also yet to be announced.
Echoing their story of resilience having skipped a full festival setup last year due to what many speculate was a lack of funding, HIFA Associate Executive Director Tafadzwa Simba said, “We are staging even at a time when many companies are not running and those that are running have been scaling down operations.”
To boost financing at a time when the country is facing economic difficulties, Friends of HIFA are running an online crowd-funding initiative (#hifamusthappen) for the festival. An appeal statement that accompanies a call for support on thundafund.com, says, “The difficult socio-economic challenges faced by Zimbabwe today has had a severe impact on ability of funders, who traditionally support the festival, to continue to do so.”
The crowd-fund aims to raise $100,000 that will be used to pay artists who have already dropped their performance fees to ensure the festival goes on.
Different rewards are given to those who donate to the festival including accessing a HIFA DVD before it’s availed to the public, having a poem about the donor featured at the festival, a pre-release download of Freshly Ground’s latest album, and naming a street after a donor among others.
Last year HIFA ran a series of mini-festivals that saw low turnout, among them the HIFA theatre season and a classic music concert.