Running amok

6 05 2009

It even made the Poetry Cafe where they read poetry every day at HIFA. A woman claiming to be a genuine war veteran (she was about my age so it was possible) said as part of a recital that a white farming family in Chegutu, some 70km out along the Bulawayo road, had been forced to frog jump all day in their underwear for “not obeying the rule of looting”. I confirmed that this area had been badly affected from a customer this afternoon though he did not know about this particular incident. 

The Poetry Cafe can be an interesting place and at times has an air of rebelliousness that can be quite exciting. The poets can be quite outspoken though there are not that many of them which I guess is why the thought police tend to leave the place alone. One show in particular this year that was surprisingly audacious was Beauty and the B.E.E. Put on at one of the theatres it was a political satire by a white South African male dressed as a black South African business woman. He skewered and insulted local and South African politicians, including our honourable president, men, women, blacks, coloureds, Indians, maids… Nobody was spared. It was very funny and he got away with it. Three performances were held to capacity audiences! Are the thought police slacking? Who knows!

Chatting to a black customer who comes from Bindura north of Harare this afternoon, he asked me what crops he could grow. It seems that his market has vanished. The mines in that area that were the mainstay of the economy have all closed due to falling prices and erratic power supplies. I couldn’t really help. Amazingly he was optimistic. He’d bought his farm in 1996 and it had done him well. He seemed to think he could survive. An unusual fellow he was very well spoken and had his hair in a pony tail – something you don’t see in blacks often. Even in the arts world.

South Africa has removed the requirement for Zimbabweans to get a visa to visit. I have speculated and discussed this with customers at length and the consensus is that it has to do with the World Cup next year. Zimbabweans are prized workers and often better educated than their South African counterparts (most speak English passably well). We’ll have to see if they have a change of heart.

HIFA 2009

5 05 2009

I have spent the last week working at HIFA. I was responsible for helping put out the daily news sheet and take photos for it and other purposes. It all went surprisingly well and I generally thought that the standard of shows was the highest it has ever been. They also sold the most tickets ever which was quite incredible. Obviously Zimbabweans are desperate for a bit of escapism. 

Below are some of the better or most representative photos I took in roughly chronological order. Some photos were not that good and some shows I did not photograph. I did not keep track of how many photos I took but I suppose it must have been around 120 or so a day.

This was a great way to get to know my new camera and I had to learn fast! By the last day my “hit rate” had improved enormously! Some of it was extremely challenging photography; low light levels, fast action and a lot of anticipation required. But I had loads of fun and couldn’t wait to get into the action every day. It’s been a long time since I’ve experienced that!