(AA) – The Zimbabwean capital on Tuesday was set alight with the opening of the Harare International Festival of Arts (HIFA), which was attended by a galaxy of artists from across the globe.
“The festival is a statement about something powerful; something about the role that the arts play and about the future of Zimbabwe,” Manuel Bagoro, HIFA founder and artistic director, told the Anadolu Agency.
He described the weeklong festival as a “unifying agent” for artists all over the world.
“It’s also about how powerful it can be when people come together, whether audiences, donors, funders or artists,” he asserted.
Launched by Bagoro in 1999, the HIFA is now considered one of Africa’s largest international art festivals.
It is a showcase for dance, fashion, poetry, comedy, music, the visual arts, sculpture and artifacts.
The festival, which takes place every year in late April or early May, draws many world-renowned and award-winning artists to Harare.
Johannes Heinrich and Daniela Haarhans, a German couple, were in Harare for the first time and were looking forward to good performances.
“If you don’t have a culture, you are not human,” Heinrich, 48, told AA. “The HIFA is about a mixture of cultures from all over the world.”
He believes that, through the arts, people get to know others from different parts of the world, learning about different languages and cultures.
Maria Wilson, HIFA’s executive director, is optimistic about the success of the festival, which will run to May 3.
“HIFA is a non-racial, multi-gender, multicultural, multi-political, multi-aged event that shows what Zimbabwe could be,” she said.
“Hence, the 2015 HIFA’s theme is ‘articulate’.”
Mokoomba, an ensemble of Zimbabwean artists from Victoria Falls, will be the highlight of this year’s opening show.
The band is known for putting on wildly energetic shows fusing ethno-jazz, traditional Tonga rhythms, Sahara blues, hip-hop and salsa.
Zanzibar Taarab, a musical group that mixes local African percussion and dance fused with Arabic music will perform on Thursday.
There will also be other performances, including one by contemporary clowns and a performance of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
Each day of the event will feature different exhibitions by various artists.
On Sunday, renowned Mali-based Afro-jazz artist Salif Keita will perform at the closing show.