The South African group, Freshly Ground set the bar too high for any future foreign acts at the prestigious Harare International Festival of Arts (HIFA) after putting up a polished performance that left thousands of fans who turned on the closing begging for more.
Addressing journalists last night after the show, Freshly Ground’s lead singer, Zolani Mahola said she was overwhelmed by the energy from the crowd which she admitted they missed from Zimbabwe.
“This performance was incredible for us, the energy that we felt from the people here is something that we have been missing for so many years, we felt like coming home,
“In our new album we have song with Oliver Mtukudzi, we have been friends for a long time, we have performed together at one of the HIFA’s in the early 2000s and we have kept that relationship. He is one of the world’s heroes so we approached him and asked him to collaborate with us, he said yes and the song is called ndiyakhumbula,” said Mahola.
During their energy filled performance, Freshly Ground had the crowd dancing to their popular songs like Doo Be Doo, Fire is low, I’d Like and Waka Waka.
They were joined on stage by Zimbabwe’s Queen of Mbira, Hope Masike also joined them on stage and performed a song called Stimela aka Chitima which has Shona lyrics too.
The last time Freshly Ground came to Zimbabwe, they were deported upon landing at the then Harare International Airport over their song which the authorities deemed to mock the former President Robert Mugabe for his refusal to step down.
Meanwhile, HIFA Executive Director Maria Wilson hailed the festival as a success saying the country has great potential of making something incredible regardless of color or race.
“We counted as a people, as a country, I don’t think there can be any doubt in any Zimbabwean’s mind that we can stand together and make something incredible happen in our country if we stand together and say I don’t care about the color of your skin,gender, politics, this country means something to us so lets make something beautiful. That’s what happened in these six days,
“Every artist, every visitor, I know people who have come in from Zambia, Taiwan, United Kingdom, United States just for this festival because as far as they are concerned Zimbabweans are wonderful people in the world,” explained Wilson.
She went on to add that the audience played a greater role in making the festival a success.
“The audience were the major highlights of the festival, there were phenomenal artists like Lira, everything was phenomenal. I can’t really say something was better than something else but the audience came out and we know how difficult it is for us to come out and be together,
“We are reserved people, they were reserved people and I think we just have to say that was the highlight, that the Zimbabweans came out and had a good time,” she added.
The festival was graced by artists like Lira, Winky D, Takura, Tamy Moyo, Vabati Vajehova, Beatenburg, Tresor to mention a few.