Editorial: Somethings change, somethings don’t

I am used to mocking the Mazoe Orange Juice advert with the punchline “Something change, somethings don’t”. But although I am not sure if the ever popular Zimbabwean juice has remained the same over the decades, I can vouch for somethings that don’t seem to change and I list them as:

• Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA – http://www.hifa.co.zw) – see explanation below
• Bronte Hotel (how does this place maintain its grace and elegance in the middle of a city wracked by neglect)
• Zimbabweans (“MaZimbo”) – how do they maintain their smiles and civility in the middle of such nonsense?
HIFA is an anomaly in a country collapsing – dubious water that flows intermittently; electricity rationing (polite term is “load-shedding”); pot-holes in which a hippo could take a nice swim; snaking queues for cash at banks; ubiquitous plain-clothes police and informers; and a hysterical statecontrolled media. Started in 1999 by world-renowned pianist Manuel Bagorro, HIFA has grown in leaps and bounds in the short space of nine years. HIFA is a moving feast of dance, theatre, music, poetry, food, drink and just plain
merry-making.
The 2008 HIFA came against a backdrop of major political developments in the country. Results of the presidential election had not yet been announced when the event started (we had waited for a world record of 5 weeks); the rural populace and township dwellers daring to go for a drink in the evenings were being savaged by uniformed soldiers, militia and ruling party thugs; the oppostion had taken over parliament for the first time since 1980; and inflation was roaring unabated towards 200,000 percent. In the midst of all this was HIFA – a world-class event taking place in the Harare Gardens with the 5-star Monomotapa Crowne Plaza Hotel looking over. The music (Freshly Ground, Oliver Mtukudzi, Chiwoniso Maraire); the dance (Tumbuka); drama (The Two Leaders I Know); poetry (Outspoken, Chirikure) and the crowds!! Need I say more?
Just feast on the pictures and see what you missed if you chickened out being in Harare then or simply didn’t know that this miracle exists in the pressure cooker that is Zimbabwe.
Peace.
Chris Kabwato
Special thanks goes out to: NiZA; Farai Mpfunya (Culture Fund); Chipo Muvezwa (Culture Fund); Heeten Bhagat (National Art Gallery of Zimbabwe);
Manuel Bagorro (HIFA); and my understudy, Simba Mudhokwani.

Big up to Zimbabwe in Photos team: Shalen Gajadhar and Levi Kabwato

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