Home » Arts & Culture » Controversies Mar Hifa 2014

Controversies, hits and misses marred this year’s edition of the six-day Harare International Festival of the Arts which ended on Sunday, albeit on a low key. Though HIFA is ranked among the top seven festivals in Africa, the showcase had a false start and then ended in jeopardy after controversial group Freshlyground, which was scheduled to close the show were denied entry into Zimbabwe.

One would have thought that since the group had been to HIFA before, organisers would bring another “freshlyground” voice that is not tainted.

In other words, the opening show themed “Light Up The Darkness” was as dull as the closing show which previously, are guaranteed highlights of the festival.

So disappointing was that HIFA audiences were made to pay $25 for a haphazardly put together closing show which was performed on the Telecel main stage.

At least they should have charged half price for the “closing act” to make up for the Freshlyground’s no show.

In fact, Manuel Bagorro, who is the founder and artistic director must have realised that with or without Freshlyground the show would go on.

Essentially, this means the festival has grown bigger than any individual and it belongs to everyone.

That said, there were some incredible performances at HIFA “Switch On” programme especially on the Telecel Main Stage. The CABS Day, the Stanbic Day, the Golden Pilsner Day and the Coca-Cola Day were amazing.

Those who love opera had a real treat with selection from Puccini’s romantic “La Boheme”, Verdi’s masterpieces “Aida” and “Rogoletto” and Saint Saens’ brilliant “Samson and Delilah”.

There were also stand-out performances on the Golden Pilsner Day featuring Rajastani Folk dance group and a play called “Goodnight Harare” at the ZB Bank Reps Theatre, “The Maids” at Standard Theatre.

The “Maids” by Giles Ramsey was much more serious in terms of sexual orientation. We were told that it was ” the story of two outcasts struggling to overcome their servile identity in a world that refuses to acknowledge them”.

Another controversial play which sent tongues wagging starred Ben Voss as Beauty Ramapelepele in a play titled “Bend It Like Beauty”.

For some obscure reason, HIFA organisers chose not to put the name of the writer of the play but The Herald understands the play was based on a book an on army general who was a homosexual.

Oddly enough, the play had the PGA tag.

However, it was the controversial play titled “Lovers In Time” by Blessing Hungwe which courted controversy as it sets out to distort history.

In the play Mbuya Nehanda returns as a man who bumps into her fellow spirit medium Sekuru Kaguvi.

The duo goes through a series of character changes as they travel through Zimbabwe in time. They are hanged by two drunken white men.

Then there was Toya Delazy, who rocked the Coca-Cola Day on the Telecel main stage. She really brought energy on stage and with all the hype or can we say the way she carried herself. Fans realised that she was more than what most people thought of her.

The group Jamaram easily connected with the audience and their lead vocalists had good control of the show and so was the Irish group – Dervish that performed on the Golden Pilsner Day.

Particularly impressive about the group was the naturalness of their music.

Also outstanding were local musicians including Jah Prayzah, Kunzwana comprising Hope Masike, Josh Meck and others who worked on that collaboration.

Source : The Herald