HIFA Breathes Life Into Distressed Zim

By Prince Tongogara

Next week Tuesday Harare comes out alive on the opening night of Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) as arts enthusiast and connoisseurs mix and mingle for a week as they devour over one hundred acts across the city.

The festival like its tradition over a decade of existence recreates Harare into a cosmopolitan city as top artists in music, poetry and theatre arts converge for a celebration of talent.

The artists come from the world – Europe, Asia, North America, Australia and Africa. The festival is a carnival of festivities, a mixture of the Brazilian Carnival, Broad End shows and Germany’s Oktoberfest.

This year’s festival which runs daily until May 3, 2015 has an array of international renowned artists who among them include widely traveled Zimbabwean band Mokoomba for the opening night and famous Malian crooner Salif Keita for the closing night.

The festival has grown to become a multi-million industry in itself creating over 20 permanent jobs, 200 casual jobs during the festival but most importantly millions in downstream industries.

The festival naturally increases the tourism arrivals, hotel and lodge occupancies, taxi revenues, beer sales and curios and artifacts.

The media industry including print, outdoors and broadcast all get high revenues for a nearly a month from festival advertising and programme sponsors.

It cannot be overemphasised that HIFA has become a powerful brand synonymous with Zimbabwe just like the majestic Victoria Falls or the mystic Great Zimbabwe Ruins.

The festival has grown to become one of Zimbabwe’s greatest ambassadors to the outside world. Participating artists invariably are well covered by both local and international media thereby giving unlimited exposure to talent and the country in general.

Despite Zimbabwe receiving some bad publicity over its economic meltdown and political instability, the festival for once gives the country some good public relations. The artists see the warmth of the people of Zimbabwe, enjoy the hospitality of the city hotels, marvel at unique Zimbabwean sculptures and crafts and most of all the country’s renowned weather.

Manuel Bagorro HIFA founder and director and his sister Maria Wilson tenacity to live their dream and promote the arts is bearing fruit. They have set up a team of trustees chaired by respected lawyer and former Harare mayor Muchadeyi Masunda.

For its transparency and accountability the festival receives funding from embassies and the corporate sector each year enough to run a smooth, enjoyable and unforgettable programme each year.

Once more Harare will live to its name the city that does not sleep as audiences enjoy performance each day up to midnight.       

And HIFA remains one of the windows that showcases Zimbabwe to the world even when at times the country is shunned by international media coverage, the festival remains one event they cannot afford to ignore.