AN afternoon of entertainment awaits merrymakers as the Harare Open Mic concert makes a return tomorrow at Ela the Garden in Newlands, Harare, after a two-year hiatus.
The Open Mic concept became a beacon of hope and activity for young artists of Harare back in the early 2000s. it was established by Pamberi Trust at the iconic Book Cafe in Harare’s Fife Avenue.
At the concert, the stage was literally open to all comers. Monday nights were dedicated to young artists and Saturday afternoons created a special space for poetry and for young women to come out and perform in the safety of daytime under the Sistaz Open Mic.
In the spirit of uniting artists across genres on one stage, fireworks are expected as former Pamberi Trust staff member, poet and writer Batsirai Chigama, filmmaker Rudo Chakanyuka and musician Penny Yon join forces to revive the once popular concept this weekend.
Before the closure of the Book Cafe in 2015, the trio back then had helped to build the powerful gender programme FLAME and BOCAPA youth programme, with strong links lasting for years.
As the trio decided to revive the Open Mic concert, 25 artists who include poets, rappers and singers, including 11 students from the University of Zimbabwe Maestro Band, will take turns to serenade revellers tomorrow.
The concert is in partnership with One Billion Rising, a global movement whose main aim is to end violence against women and has been making the call for the past 10 years in Zimbabwe.
“It is important to keep these kinds of spaces active as this allows young artists to experiment, find their voice and gain confidence on the stage, thereby grooming them for fruitful careers,” Chigama said.
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“The Harare Open Mic offers a chilled and relaxed atmosphere for a family outing and promises nothing but good vibes in the cool leafy surrounds of Ela the Garden.”
Also, among the performers at the concert are rising poet and rapper Tatiana “Banshee” Kondo, a human rights defender who uses spoken word poetry and music to creatively advocate for women’s and children’s rights and mental health issues.
Banshee, who spearheads a womanist movement called Shee and hosts an annual mental wellness event, Battlescars and Healing, will share the stage with renowned poet Ruth Tsopotsa, author of Oasis in Crisis, Delight Hungwe and Tashinga Ndindana.
Nothando Mhlanga, Tawanda Vombo, Bernadette Mutangara, Tendai Mhlanga, Millicent Yedwa, Tronix Carter, Rutendo Chichaya, Ropafadzo Maumburudze, Obert Gwari and Nelson Mbewe will entertain guests at the concert.