The tell tale signs that herald winter we all know are – the nippy weather that prompts us to cover up a bit more after months of frolicking in feather light clothing, the grey clouds that appear from nowhere and tend to position themselves awkwardly over the sun and we start to spend more time dressing digging out all those warm clothes that didn’t matter three weeks ago. Winter is coming! And when winter is near in Harare, the Sunshine City, you start to notice colourful posters all over town. The massive billboard at the entrance of the Harare Gardens comes to life: Harare International Festival of Arts (HIFA) 2018 “We count!”
For an entire week, the whole city livens up. It’s as if Tinkerbell saves all the fairy dust in the world for the first week of May in Harare. Forget about the dread we feel driving into the CBD because HIFA changes EVERYTHING!
This year’s HIFA is promising to be the biggest yet, and looking at the line up, it’s certainly looking good. With big local and international acts on the line up you need to make sure that you have the entire seven days planned to the tee. It’s the last week before schools open, and this makes it extra special. It gives parents the chance to have some fun outings with the kids, and there’s nothing like a family day out, taking in some art and culture. This is the only must-read guide you’ll need for this year’s edition of HIFA.
Arthur Miller said it well in his words; “The theatre is so endlessly fascinating because it’s so accidental. It’s so much like life.” There are some interesting theatre pieces to look forward to this year; “HEDY! The Life & Inventions of Hedy Lamarr” is one you won’t want to miss. Hedy Lamar, by the way, was a beauty with brains, star of the silver screen, and it’s thanks to her we move around with little computers everywhere we go. Yep, she invented frequency hopping and spread spectrum technology that makes wireless communication possible. It’s funny and you’ll learn a thing or two as well. Also in theatre there is “Romeo and Juliet.” One can never get enough of that love story. In this version, there’s a party, a friar, a duel and a count and that makes for an interesting twisted interpretation of the classic.
Another reason to love HIFA 2018 is the comedy offering. Nqoba Ngcobo, the Comedic Artist from South Africa they call a Hip-hop head with a rock and roll heart and a funny soul, will be gracing the HIFA stage. Also on the “cracking your ribs with laughter” line up is one of the biggest names in East African comedy, Patrick Salvador Idringi. Our own super comedian, Carl Joshua Ncube, will also give us a lighter look at all things familiar to us. With all that’s been going on, he’s sure to dish out a large serving of awesome!
Dance is an art form that speaks to the depth of our souls telling stories in rhythmic fluid movements. You cannot speak about dance in Zimbabwe and not mention Soukaina Marie-Laure Edom. Soukaina is the brains behind AfriKera Arts Trust and they are performing two productions called “MakingMmen and Mamy-wata” and “The Plague and Transcend.” The MJ Dance Factory is one not to miss and is always surprisingly funky. The company will be performing a piece called “The Faun and Rooted.” I don’t know about you, but that just makes me hyper-curious. Add earth bound movements, forms of Kathak with startling modern twists because the Asian Kinkini Taal will be in Harare performing “The Art of Dance.”
Nooooo, I haven’t forgotten about the music…you gotta sample some good music at HIFA or you haven’t been. Picture this: you’ve had a tough day and then you step into this world of all these different sounds. What I love about HIFA is how they have a lot of collaborations going between international artists and our own Zimbabwean stars. Publish the Quest, a Vashon Island band will be performing and they have an electric hip-hop sound that makes interesting collaboration for any artist whether it’s a voice addition or instrument. For all the cool cats who appreciate a good dose of jazz music, don’t even think about missing the band “Praed.” Their sound is an interesting cocktail of Arabic pop music, free jazz (which, by the way, is music that is free from structure – Coltrane is a good example) and electronics…and, who knows, they may just join hands and perform with one of your local favourite. HIFA is always full of surprises.
The bands you won’t want to miss: Freshly Ground. Yes, they’ve been to Zim a few times. They always put on a good show and they have new music, and that’s always sweet. Lira is a goddess on stage that’s bound to be a special performance and the last thing you’ll want is someone else telling you about it. Winky D has a set on the main stage and the man has a way. He’s a beast on stage; my money is on him this year. Jonah Sithole’s daughter Mae Sithole is home to perform, lock that down. Beatenburg and Treso will no doubt keep you on your feet, so you better strap those dancing shoes on for their performances. Zim Praise Choir will probably also be joined by some familiar faces and voices and, as always, they never disappoint. The Midlands Christian College band will be performing, and these kids always take it to another level and the energy is infectious.
HIFA has really gone all out this time around. Don’t forget too that HIFA has the Coca-Cola Green stage, which really is the heart of the festival. On that stage, expect to see most of the local talent that has hot songs hitting the air waves right now, I’m talking hip hop, jazz, mbira, R’n B, poetry, world music and I’m crossing my fingers for a bit of dancehall – nothing wrong with that right!?
Certainly HIFA 2018 is set to rock this Sunshine City like it’s never been rocked. A couple of more tips: if it’s an evening show you’re attending, always dress warm. The Harare Gardens tend to get quite chilly especially after dark, so be prepared. It’s very important that you make a schedule and try to get all your tickets in time so that you do not miss anything and you aren’t stuck in those last minute queues. Wear comfortable shoes and clothes. Do not forget your portable charger so that you can take all the pics and videos you want, after all you may need that phone to make some mobile purchases. Don’t forget to download the HIFA mobile app, technology is your friend. If you have your own chairs, especially in main stage Harare Gardens, that may be an added advantage. Car Pool is your friend; embrace it, because parking can be hectic (Don’t say I didn’t hook you up)! A designated driver is a must! That’s all the guiding I’m going to do this year. So go out there and have a lot of fun because HIFA 2018 has pulled out the big guns!