If you’re in Harare during the first week of May, make sure you get to Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA). If you’re NOT in Harare but are at all able to get there for the first week of May – do!
HIFA does what it says on the tin, and then some. For a week each year, Harare Gardens and other venues around the city are transformed into a buzzing, laughing, singing hub of drama, dance and music. Top-class performers from Zimbabwe and around the globe assemble to entertain and enlighten.
To say that HIFA is the highlight of the year for many a Zimbabwean is an understatement. People travel from Bulawayo, Victoria Falls and Mutare to share in the festivities. It’s the one fixture in the Zimbabwean calendar that lights up the whole country. The excitement begins in March when teasers of performers are announced, reaches its pinnacle during the days of the festival, and stays in the hearts of audiences for months afterwards.
HIFA is more than just a well-established, well-run, well-attended arts festival. It has become one of the only sources of expression in a country where print, radio and television is heavily controlled by the government. The shows at HIFA often have a political theme, are deeply satirical, and are performed with heart-stopping boldness. Zimbabwean audiences arrive each year, battered by the country’s trials, and watch performances of stories that speak to their hearts. They leave with new fight inside them.
I remember last year’s opening night performance. It was a story centred around diamonds. Actors dressed as caricatures of political figures danced on stage, in pitiful adoration of diamonds, Mercs and big houses. Men, women and children from rural areas were taken from villages to work in diamond fields. An elderly traditional leader ruled the people with an iron fist. It was a soul-wrenching performance but concluded on a high note with the death of the despot and the jubilation of the masses. Fireworks lit the sky, casting a new glow over Harare’s skyline.
The theme for this year’s stint is ‘A show of spirit’ – which promises the passion and vibrance that the festival is known for. Take a look at their programme for more details.
The 2012 festival runs from 1st to 6th May. Hurry – last year was a sellout!
Information about tickets (from their website):[Tickets are available from] Julius Nyerere Way adjacent to the Rainbow Towers Hotel Main Gate … and at Avondale Shopping Centre in front of Nando’s.
These will open for pre-booking on Monday 23rd April for Troubadours, Tuesday 24th April and Wednesday 25th April for HIFAmigos and HIFA partners, 9am-5pm and for everyone else from Thursday 26th April – Saturday 28th April, and then on Monday 30th April, 9 – 5pm.
During the Festival, Box Offices are open 9am – 10pm at Avondale and 9am – midnight at the Festival site. There is a swiping facility for those who prefer not to use cash. Depending on availability, a small number of tickets will be available for sale at venues 30 minutes before shows start, but remember that this will not happen if the show is sold out so book in advance!
All HIFA tickets entitle you to free entrance into the Harare Gardens site on the day of the show.