Acrobats, comedians, singers, actors, dancers, poets, guitarists, fashion shows and craft stalls, all together in Harare signals HIFA time again.
The Harare International Festival of Arts is a showcase of skills, creativity and entertainment expressed through a variety of genres. This year’s theme of ‘Switch On’ was an invitation by the events founder and artistic director, Manuel Bagorro, to “seek out the light in darkness – to explore the capacity in each and every one of us and illuminate, enlighten and radiate our communal light around the world through the positive rays of HIFA.”
Now in its sixteenth year, HIFA is Zimbabwe’s largest and most diverse arts festival. The Harare gardens were skillfully transformed into a place where talented people entertained and amused people from all walks of life. Free entertainment throughout the day was complemented by refreshment outlets and arts and crafts stalls, creating aparty atmosphere that lasted into the small hours of the following day.
Reps Theatre and 7 Arts in Avondale, along with two facilities at the Dutch Reformed Church in town, provided venues for a selection of theatre, comedy, dance and music. First Street had free entertainment for those not able to attend the HIFA venues, courtesy of PEPFAR (The US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief ).
During 2013 PEPFAR directed US$95 million to Zimbabwe in response to the HIV & Aids crisis. This meant that one million Zimbabweans could be tested and receive counseling and approximately 140,000 people received anti-retroviral treatment.
This year HIFA hosted 1,200 performers, two thirds of whom came from Zimbabwe and the rest from 20 different African, European, Asian and North American countries. More than 1,000 people were employed during and in the run up to the festival and approximately 60,000 tickets were sold over the six days of the event.
This year, which was my fourteenth, I saw 27 ticketed shows and half a dozen complimentary ones on the Green. It was an extraordinary indulgence of art and culture and one that I and many like me look forward to year after year. HIFA 2014 may have only just finished but I am already looking forward to 2015.
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