The Harare International Festival of the Arts (Hifa) is back in its traditional six-day format and venues, the organisers have assured.
Regarded as the biggest fête in the land, it has offered opportunities to both local and international artistes to showcase their talents in front of diverse audiences in the heart of Harare.
Faced with an uninspiring backdrop of a shrinking economy and deteriorating buying power among arts lovers, Hifa organisers have remained resolute in confronting the ugly reality haunting the annual event.
This year they have had to extend the begging bowl to different well-wishers and negotiated lesser charges from artists set to perform on their stages from May 2 to 7.
“Firstly, I must make it clear that these contributions are supplementary. They have been initiated by friends of the festival who want to make sure that the festival is able to maintain and exceed the high standards that it has always striven towards,” said Tafadzwa Simba, the associate executive director.
“Yes, Hifa is extremely pleased at the response so far.”
As a result of economic problems, last year Hifa took a different format whereby their events were spaced out over some months but the idea lost steam.
“The interesting thing is, throughout Hifa’s lifespan, the economic times have always been difficult,” said Simba.
However, Simba said they had worked tirelessly against all odds not to cast the venerated event into oblivion.
“Perhaps it is a matter of a new set of difficulties. This time around, the cash shortages have affected Zimbabweans’ ability to transact,” he said.
“However, we are glad to confirm that various electronic payment methods will be available to all audience members before and during the festival.”
Simba also reiterated that Hifa was a platform to boost over 1 000 local artists that perform at each edition and also open up a chance for them to meet and interconnect with foreign performers.
Apart from the artists, he said Hifa, which has hosted continental music giants like Salif Keita and Oliver Mtukudzi, signifies the face of the nation.
“It has been remarked that Hifa is a symbol of what Zimbabwe can be, that is vibrant, creative and a unifying force. It is important that Hifa plays this role as all walks of life come together at Hifa,” Simba said.
According to Hifa executive director Maria Wilson this year’s edition will serve a huge role in uplifting the “dejected nation of Zimbabwe”.
Wilson told The Standard Style that the event running under the theme Hifa 2017: Staging an Intervention will be a relief to problems bedevilling locals.
“I feel that there is a drop in people’s energies in Zimbabwe at the moment, I feel that we feel cheerless and joyless and that we are confused about the situation and the context that we are in,” she said on the sidelines of a press conference held last week.
Wilson clarified how the organisers, through their programming, aim to rejuvenate happiness and eliminate negativity.
“We are intervening to show what is positive, what is celebratory about our country, our people and also visiting artistes coming here are going to be here to see Zimbabwean artistes and see a totally different side to this country,” she said.
“For me as a Zimbabwean, 2017 is so important because I am feeling together with all other people that the landscape is not light and I want Hifa to become a beacon of something that stands for what is positive.”
She conceded that parts of last year’s concept themed Next Level were not impressive, prompting them to revert back to the traditional six-day event in adherence to calls by stakeholders.