What to look out for @ Hifa

THIS Tuesday, as the rest of the world joins hands in celebrating International Workers’ Day, the local arts scene will burst into life with the arrival of Hifa (Harare International Festival of the Arts).
Running under the theme “We Count”, this prestigious fete is set to light up the capital with hundreds of both local and international artistes showcasing their talent. Whether one is a music fan or a spoken word fanatic, there is a little bit of something for everyone at Hifa with various art forms represented on the programming.

Last year the organisers came under attack for not putting together a convincing lineup, but it seems they did their homework this time around, especially on the music front.

While Freshlyground is the major headline act, there are numerous other notable performers; Beatenberg, Lira, Tresor, Winky D, Lucky Charmes and Bali Bandits.

The opening show which features over 100 singers, dancers, acrobats and puppeteers from various parts of the world shall set the tone for the six-day event. Prudence Katomeni, Dereck Mpofu, Masa Caroleen, Sarah Elizabeth Charles, Jarrett Cherner, Judah Gavra, Hope Masike and AfriKera Dance Theatre are just but a few among the artistes taking part on the opening gig, which is usually accompanied by fireworks.

Hifa followers will attest to the euphoria characteristic of these opening shows which rarely disappoint and definitely something not to be missed.

On the second day, the CABS Opera Gala takes centre stage with patrons guaranteed a blissful night of classical music and drama.

Some of the characters who will be displaying their skills on stage during this particular show include Hlengiwe Mkhwanazi, Lauren Decker, Lunga Hallem, Mandla Mndebele, the Zimspiration Choir and members of Baroque2000.

Over the years, the opera spectacle has been known to sell out and this year is also set to be no different. Prior to this show, however, dance lovers will be treated to Dunia Dance Theatre and AfriKera Dance Theatre’s performance of “Making Men” and “Mamy Wata”.

On Thursday, gears start turning up with South African songstress Lira taking over the ZOL Main Stage. This will not be the first time the “Feel Good” hit-maker performs in the country having previously held sold out shows in the capital. During the afternoon, theatre enthusiasts will have the opportunity to see The HandleBards in action as they perform their production of “Romeo and Juliet”.

Friday will certainly be explosive with numerous exciting acts ushering festival-goers into the weekend. South African pop group Beatenberg returns to the Hifa stage again having pulled off a mesmeric performance when they came for the 2015 edition. Popular for their hit song, “Pluto”, a collaborative effort with DJ Clock, the award-winning group has already proven their worth to the local audience and will certainly want to maintain their status as top performers.

After the boys from across the Limpopo are done with their thing, local superstar Winky D will bring his energy to the main stage. Having “filled up” the HICC for his album launch in February and with the artiste not staging many shows in the capital, this will be one of those rare opportunities for Hararians to catch the Gafa in action.

To shut off the Friday night, a bit of laughter might just be the right thing with Carl Joshua Ncube taking his act to the Global Stage.

For the past two editions, Saturday nights have been reserved for EDM and deep house lovers with the Sonic in Wonderland slot becoming a permanent fixture on the programme. This year’s electronic music madness which has been dubbed “Sonic in Wonderland 3: Dance for Democracy”, will be headlined by top international DJs Lucky Charmes and the Bali Bandits who will be playing alongside Jason Le Roux.

These DJs have vast experience on the big stage with Lucky Charmes playing at some of the biggest festivals in the world including “Tomorrowland” while Bali Bandits have been associated with the likes of Martin Garix and The Chainsmokers.

However, before the EDM contingent bring their bass pounding beats and blinding lighting to the stage, one of the biggest Afro-pop stars on the continent, Tresor, is set to mesmerise music fans with his performance.

The Congolese platinum selling artiste needs no introduction, thanks to his chart-topping hits which are always popping up on MTV, Trace, Channel O and many other international music video channels.

Some of his popular tracks include “Never Let Me Go”, “Zambezi”, “Evergreen”, “Remedy” and “Beyond Redemption”. Tresor is also not new to the Zimbabwean stage having performed twice at the Vic Falls Carnival. Other performers that are also worth checking out on the day include Hope Masike, Takura and Masa Caroleen.

The festival is set to shut down with a bang. Freshlyground is to bring down the curtain. Having failed to make it for the 2014 edition in unclear circumstances, their inclusion on this year’s lineup will certainly put smiles on the faces of their fans. With a long list of hits that include “I’d Like”, “Nomvula”, “Doo Be Doo”, “Pot Belly”, “Fire is Low” and “Zithande” among others, revellers should come prepared to lose their voices from singing along.

Despite the main closing show, there are many other interesting slots with the likes of Transit Crew, Tamy, Mbeu, Vabati VaJehova and Zimpraise Gospel Choir also taking to the stage. The programme is laden with many other international performers that might not be so popular with the locals, it will be great to check out some of these and experience what other cultures have to offer.