HARARE – The Harare International Festival of Arts (Hifa) promised an opening show awash with legendary music, dance and visuals and that is exactly what they delivered on Tuesday night.
Directed by Asa Jogi, graduates from Zimbabwean talent search show Starbrite took the packed Telecel Main Stage on a scintillating musical journey from the 1960s to the present.
It was a night on which legendary Zimbabwean music was juxtaposed with an array of international music classics. Music by superstar Oliver Mtukudzi, the late Faith Dauti, Dorothy Masuka, late Andy Brown and the Bhundu Boys was proudly performed during the 14th opening show of southern Africa’s leading arts festival.
Roki and Ba Shupi’s music was played to honour Zimbabwe’s current crop of musicians. Chidzoka, which made former Big Brother Africa star Roki a favourite of many was deservedly honoured on the night.
Many will perhaps find it hard to endorse the inclusion of Ba Shupi’s Mai Mwana Muri Chocolate.
Though the opening show was in many respects a great spectacle, it was marred by a few grey areas.
I have seen similar opening shows before and as such I would have expected the directors of the show to give the show a greater Zimbabwean and African slant.
I am sure the packed crowd would have appreciated a greater exposure of Zimbabwean music which recognises all the country’s musical heroes including the Devera Ngwena Jazz Band, the late Leonard Dembo, Alick Macheso, the late Tongai Moyo, Winky D and many more. It is difficult to understand how the show’s director could totally ignore sungura which is arguably the most popular music genre in this country.
I am sure too that the colossal music legend that Thomas Mapfumo is in this country merited more than the whisper of Madiro we heard on Tuesday night.
The show’s failure to recognise the global impact of reggae dancehall left me a little disappointed.
Though a fleeting Sean Paul song was performed on the night, I am convinced the featuring of the genre’s megastars Buju Banton, Beenie Man and Bounty Killer would have painted a better picture of reggae dancehall’s extensive global reach.
Another glaring omission by the show was that of the boy band era that stretched from the late ‘80s all the way to the early ‘00s. Tuesday night’s opening show totally ignored influential bands like Boyz II Men, New Edition, All-4-One, Westlife, Boyzone and many more much to the surprise of some in the audience.
The few disappointments of Tuesday night, however, can never take away the firm promise of another fun-filled Hifa that the opening show hinted. – Dakarai Mashava, Entertainment Editor