Vongai Mbara Arts Reporter
Superstar Oliver Mtukudzi led new-look regional group Mahube to a fascinating act at the opening night of Harare International Festival of the Arts on Tuesday.
The event started about 45 minutes late due to challenges with the sound system, but the group managed to lift the spirits of thousands of art lovers that thronged the Main Stage of the festival.The sound glitch was surprising for the renowned festival that has a reputation of delivering world class events.
It was an unfortunate beginning to the six-day festival that returned to normalcy this year after failing to take off in its traditional way due to financial challenges last year. People had begun registering their displeasure in various ways including booing and whistling when the sound system finally worked well.
The musicians and dancers covered up for the mishap with a well-choreographed act. South Africa’s Steve Dyer thrilled fans with his horn-blowing skills while local instrumentalist Josh Meck stole the show with his versatility with the bass guitar.Mtukudzi seemed to play a fatherly role to many young performers that graced the stage and got applause every time he went for the microphone.
Hope Masike also did well as he joined Mtukudzi on vocals.
Dancers from DTZ National Ballet of Zimbabwe, Breakthrough Productions, Jerahuni Movement Factory, M&M Dance Factor, The AfriKera, Dance Theatre team and Zimboys Acrobats showcased amazing skills that complemented Mahube’s act.
Besides the afore-mentioned musicians, Mahube also had the likes of Bokani Dyer from Botswana and Xixel Langa from Mozambique. Soukaina Edom has always been outstanding with choreographing big acts and it was the same story on Tuesday night. The groups went on and off the stage in stylish ways that mesmerised fans. Lighting and other visual effects illuminated the stage and by the time Mtukudzi did the last song of the set “Shamiso (Pata Pata)” the crowd was ecstatic.
A few seconds into the last song, fireworks illuminated the sky to the delight of the fans. It was fun in the crowd and fun on stage as the fireworks announced the arrival of 2017 Hifa that is running under the theme “Staging an Intervention” and closes on Sunday.
Today is NMB Bank Day at Hifa and exciting music, dance, drama and comedy performances are lined-up.
Between 10 and 11 am at the Standard Theatre McIntosh Jerahuni’s dance company, which has performed in Norway, Sweden, Madagascar, Mozambique, South Africa and China, is performing Chirodziva/The Sleeping Pool.
At the same time at Reps Theatre Tendai Malvina Makumbandi’s Compassion 2Dance, which is based in Norway, is giving a second performance of the Silent Drum. The first performance was on Wednesday evening.
At 1pm at the Standard Theatre there is a double dance bill. The Balance is a Norwegian and Zimbabwean collaboration choreographed by Nasser Mhende. The other performance is a South African performance entitled The Art of Broken Pieces. On the Global Stage at 1.30pm British guitarist Will McNicol and percussionist Luke Selby present a programme of music inspired by the British Isles.
At 4pm Will McNicol and pianist Jeanette Micklem join Baroque 2000, a South African music ensemble which performed on the first day of the festival, on the Global Stage. Cameroonian Afro-folk star Kareyce Fotso will be performing on the Main Stage from 7pm to 8.10pm. At 10pm on the same stage South African electronic music stars TiMO ODV and Aidin Clay give a performance billed to push boundaries that defy categorisation.
Plays being performed on NMB Bank Day include a British production called Amsterdam, in which a woman named Chanje is seduced by the city and a man and embarks on a voyage into the unknown. The play is being staged from 6pm to 7pm at Reps Theatre. Other plays include second performances of Tumaini, a play directed by Lloyd Nyikadzino in which two women deal with the realities of migration, and Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, in which four British men play all the parts, with hilarious results.