Where is the carnival mood?

Brazilian samba dancers spiced up the Samba Night

Brazilian samba dancers spiced up the Samba Night

Tawanda Marwizi Arts Correspondent—
This year’s Harare International Carnival was launched on September 5 at Town House with Diamond Musica headlining the launch party. Since then, a number of activities with the “Carnival” tag have taken place in the capital with the major one being the Harare Jazz Festival that took place on September 19.However, this year’s edition has been on a low note and few party lovers have been following the carnival events.

The merrymaking spirit that usually comes with the carnival is not here yet and it seems the Street Party set for October 10 and the Samba Night to be held on October 7 at Private Lounge are the only events that will define this year’s carnival. In previous years many popular activities would show the carnival mood and Harare would really become a partying city.

Besides the Street Party and the Samba Night, there were music events made around the carnival theme. Sungura, dancehall and gospel music events that were themed with the carnival made the event exciting. The city was invaded by masked merrymakers, dancers, singers and fun-lovers in various costumes. The Harare International Carnival had become an event to look up to annually in the capital.

Something is just not in place this year and it seems the organisers, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, are not making enough noise about the carnival as they have done in previous years. ZTA noted that about 21 countries are participating in the event and these include Egypt, Namibia, DRC, Botswana, Malawi, Zambia, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania and Angola being from Africa while other countries include Brazil, Sweden, Cuba, Indonesia, Jamaica, Italy and the United Kingdom.

With such countries coming to the carnival jamboree, carnival spirit should have been high among local artistes and fun-lovers. Last year hundreds of merrymakers were treated to a good event as dancers from different countries participated at the carnival while local artistes made a mark at various platforms during the event.

The event organisers seem to be putting less effort in letting the public know about the event. A few promoters have advertised their gigs that are under the carnival but little was known about other events. Very few people knew about the Ministers Parade that was scheduled for last Friday. Even the launch party took place on a low key and there is need for serious marketing if this year’s Street Party is expected to match the previous level.

The Street Party is a public event that gives free cultural interactions between Zimbabweans and people from various countries and it has been the most popular event during the previous carnivals. A number of countries are expected to take part at the party this year and there is need for organisers to start creating interest in the event.

A recent survey by The Herald Review revealed that most of the events are not known to the public. Few events like the upcoming event featuring Jamaican musician Busy Signal are in the public domain. One Reward Muchini from Hatfield said he was not aware of the jamboree. “I am not even aware of that. May be they should have gone an extra mile in marketing such an event,” he said.

He believes that a number of people are not even aware of the event. Others like Tungamirai Chera who stays in Mufakose said last year he only got to know about the event after he bumped into it. “I think there is need to educate the public first about the carnival,” he said. Others believe there is need to engage some cultural groups from across the country.

“Yes it might be a carnival for Harare but there is need to engage a number of people across the country,” he said. The organisers should have invested more in advertising on the social media, posters and other printed material among other platforms. Other carnivals in the world are advertised well ahead of the dates and merrymakers await the events with excitement.

In Brazil, they have already started advertising for their Rio Carnival that will be held next year. Organisers of the event are encouraging the general public to buy costumes for the festival and by doing so they are spreading the word about the carnival to the public. That is the same to the carnival of Venice that is held in Italy in February.

The organisers have already started advertisements for the event reaching out to many communities through several awareness programmes. That is the same way organisers of our carnival should approach it. Selling different promotional items well before the carnival is one way of marketing the event at the same time raising fund for preparations.

ZTA is an institution that has made Zimbabwe proud through their efforts to make the country one of the best tourist destinations. In the same way, they should work with various stakeholders to market the carnival and ensure that Harare becomes the place to be during the festival. ZTA spokesperson Sugar Chagonda said this year’s event was confirmed at the last minute and they had not managed to gather enough resources to market it.

“This year’s event was confirmed very late and lack of resources delayed the whole process but we are working hard to make awareness campaigns,” he said. He urged the media to play their part in letting the public know about the event. “The other thing is that we are working with private promoters who are also using their own ways to promote the event under the carnival banner and that is another way of creating awareness. We also urge the media to play their part in telling the public about the event.”

Other events that will be held as part of the carnival include the Ragga-Socca Night, Tuku and Friends concert at the Congo Night.