THE Harare International Festival of the Arts (Hifa)’s opening concert on Tuesday night at the ZOL’s main stage in Harare Gardens failed to ignite sparks of excitement among merrymakers compared to previous editions.
BY WINSTONE ANTONIO
The 18th edition of the arts extravaganza is running under the theme, We Count.
The performances on the night by over 100 singers, dancers, acrobats and puppeteers from various parts of the world failed to thrill the crowd, if the fans’ reactions were anything to go by.
The opening — which saw performances by Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi, Amanda a la Banda from Italy and Grammy-nominated Afro-roots star and humanitarian activist, Rocky Dawuni from Ghana last year — often sets the tone of the six-day programme.
In the past it was famed for attracting full houses from across races but this was not the case on Tuesday night as there was a paltry crowd with largely unfamiliar creatives on stage.
Jazz sensation Prudence Katomeni, Dereck Mpofu, Masa Caroleen, Hope Masike and the Zimspiration Choir performed later in the programme, sharing the stage with Haitian-American vocalist Sarah Elizabeth Charles and American pianist Jarrett Cherner.
The opening show hardly saw fans clapping, dancing or screaming in excitement, as had become the norm over the past years.
The unexpected rains that pounded Harare hours before the opening concert might have chased away potential festival-goers, while a few die-hards braved the chilly and soaking weather.
Others patrons could be seen trickling out of the venue for fear of the rains.
The fireworks displays at the end of the show also lacked the “wow” factor that usually invites cheerful screams from the crowds.
Tonight’s main show features South African singer Lerato Molapo, known as Lira, as she performs at the ZOL main stage courtesy of mobile network operator, NetOne.
The festival, which will stretch to Sunday, showcases arts and culture in the genres of music, spoken word, applied craft and design, theatre, fashion and dance.