The Independence Day concert of 1980, Zex Manatsa’s stadium wedding, and the historic Akon/Sean Paul gig at the giant National Sports Stadium.
These three stand out as Zimbabwe’s three big gigs.
Fast forward to 2017, September to be precise, and the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and its partners intend to break records.
It is just 17 days to go and ZTA chief executive officer Karikoga Kaseke and his team are talking big.
A 36-hour long party in the heart of the capital, preceded by a week of adrenaline pumping events, is being put together. Zimbabwe alone will provide 10 000 performing artistes.
This is the Harare International Carnival 2017.
“We are faced with the daunting task of screening artistes that will participate. The response has been overwhelming. Some groups have as many as 500 members. Based on the numbers we have I can say we will be looking at 100 local groups participating in the street party with an average of 100 members per group, taking the total number of artistes to a massive 10 000,” says Kaseke. He adds that the number of artistes participating will go up as soon as foreign acts confirm.
“We are targeting to have 25 countries participating, with Cuba coming in for the first time. I must say that the Cubans are way more ‘dangerous’ than the Brazilian Samba Girls. So if people thought they had seen it all, they haven’t.
“Trinidad and Tobago also return to the carnival this year and we are glad to have all countries in the region having confirmed their participation as usual.”
Dubbed the “3 million-man carnival”, Kaseke says Harare will be turned into a fun-lovers paradise.
“This year we want to party like never before. We have moved the main concert venue from Africa Unity Square to Robert Mugabe Square as there is a lot of space there.
“That party starts on Saturday evening shortly after the street party and ends the following day at midday,” said Kaseke.
And instead of having the usual one day of legal public drinking at the street party, this year it shall last a week.
“This year we shall have what we are calling ‘Happy Week’, running from September 1 to 6. All we want is for people to have fun and enjoy themselves. As Zimbabweans we are too reserved, so by introducing this happy week we want to encourage people to relax and enjoy life,” Kaseke says.
ZTA head corporate affairs Sugar Chagonda reveals there will be a “Clash of the Limpopo” at this year’s carnival.
“On Saturday September 9 after the street party, everyone must converge at the Robert Mugabe Square and witness Zimbabwean artistes who include Jah Prayzah, Suluman Chimbetu, Soul Jah Luv, Winky D, Seh Calaz among many others, clash with South African hotshots such as Babes Wodumo, Dr Malinga, Busiswa, Prince Kaybee and Euphonik.”
All this will be done on the biggest stage in Africa.
As if that is not enough of a spectacle, Chagonda and his team are bringing over popular South African socialite, Zodwa Wabantu.
Zodwa, together with a myriad of local and regional “sexy dancers”, will take part in the Samba Night featuring 10 Brazilian samba dancers and 20 Cuban dancers.
The Samba Night, which is being run by Devine Assignments, will take place in an intimate setting at the HICC to enable the audiences to witness the magical samba dances up close and personal.
“When the people speak we listen. The people have said that they want to see Zodwa, Brazilians and Cubans in action so we are bringing them. The carnival is for the people not for the ZTA so whatever we do, we are doing it for the people,” says Chagonda.
As a follow up to Koffi Olomide’s memorable performance last year, organisers are targeting the DRC’s Werrason. Chagonda says talks with Werrason’s camp are ongoing and they are confident of a positive outcome.
But just how does this carnival benefit Zimbabwe?
Chagonda says while it may appear to be a waste of resources, people need to understand that the event “stirs economic activities”.
“We are projecting that revenue created during the carnival will be around US$50 million this year as compared to last year’s figure which was around $25 million,” reveals Chagonda.
“Eventually we want this carnival to grow into an industry like that of Brazil whereby we don’t talk of revenue generation and job creation during the carnival only but we also see the same before and after the carnival.”
And he also has a word to the anchor sponsors, Big Time Strategic Group.
“In other nations, corporates bid to sponsor the carnival and you don’t have the government investing a lot into it. Instead, the carnival becomes a major revenue stream for the government.
“This is where we want to take this carnival. Corporates must come on board and take advantage of the millions that will be gathered in the capital.”
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