News

    International Artists Bring New Excitement to Zimbabwe

    Zimbabwe has long struggled with such issues as land seizures, violence, election irregularities, human rights abuse and economic troubles.  But each year, Zimbabwe hosts a week-long event that provides a respite from the daily drudgery.  The Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) brings international artists from around the globe.

    Music is known as the universal language. If that maxim is confirmed anywhere it is at the Harare International Festival of the Arts, or Hifa, in Zimbabwe.

    There are artists from Europe, Latin America, Central America and Africa.  One can hear music being sung in nearly every language imaginable, and the effect is the same. Happiness.

    The German reggae music band Jamaram is playing in their native language. Fans try sing along. The festival is not just about music. There are actors, dancers and other practioners of the performing and visual arts.  Samm Monro, better known as Comrade Fatso, is a British-born Zimbabwean artist participating at the HIFA.  He says the arts festival plays an important role in Zimbabwean culture.

    "I think HIFA week is really an important week in Zimbabwe," said Monro. "It gives us an opportunity to see what we can do as Zimbabweans. It creates an amazing space of mixing between Zimbabwean cultures, classes, et cetera."

    Jamaram is a German eight-member music group performing three shows at the HIFA. One of the shows is performed free of charge for Zimbabweans who can not afford the festival's $20 entry fee. Jamaram member Samuel Philip says music is not just about entertaining people.

    "No matter where you are from in the world when you do music… it does not matter, music brings people together. It is the classic. It is the universal language," he said.

    HIFA organizers say they want the arts festival to become as grand as the popular Rio Festival in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, to develop Zimbabwe’s ailing economy. HIFA Chairman George Mutendadzamera says the 13-year-old annual festival is more than just artists entertaining Zimbabweans.

    "It is the economic impact of HIFA," he said. "The bottom-line is when you have a festival we drink. There is employment creation. We generate wealth. Last year we created something short of 1300 jobs."

    While artists and HIFA organizers are positive about the festival's cultural and economic benefits, Stanley Kwenda, the director of Artists for Democracy thinks Zimbabwean artists are being overshadowed by their international counterparts.

    "Local artists like Mokoomba should get more time," he said. "They are as good as international artists. This crowd as you can see has been energized by Mokoomba. We did not get what we wanted from Mokoomba. Let us have local groups which are of international quality. We want them to give local artists more time than they give to Oprah  music, like they do to foreign artists. Mokoomba is fantastic."

    Whatever the criticism, the HIFA Arts Festival is an event that has rocked Zimbabwe. And with HIFA's close Sunday, many might wish for more to help them forget their miseries in the troubled nation.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora