HIFA 2010 – day 1

27 04 2010

It’s HIFA (Harare International Festival of the Arts) time again and not only have they got it together with very little money they have even got the biggest programme ever!

I went to the opening press briefing and decided that I never wanted to hear another “we are so excited” again. Still, it is necessary for the sponsors/partners and media who were out in force for the only real festival of entertainment on the Zimbabwe calendar.

Mark Nizer

Mark Nizer

Mark Nizer is an American comedy juggler who came to HIFA last year. I decided to go and see his show on a bit of an impulse and I must admit I was impressed. He is polished, imaginative (yes, computer graphics, lasers etc.) and very funny. HIFA 2010 was definitely off to a good start. He claims to have actually entertained the jury for the O J Simpson trial and won a world juggling award in 1994. Well that’s what it says in the programme and I can believe it.

Magmanus - Cirkus Cikor

Next was a Swedish based “contemporary circus”. I am not at all sure what “contemporary” means in this context but it was nothing like the circuses I saw as a child – even without the animals. I suppose the audience did laugh quite a bit but it seemed full of jugglers with angst, intentionally dropped skittles and juggling balls… Odd. I think a lot of it went straight over the heads of the younger audience of whom  there were quite a number.

Ria Mushonga of The Unsound

Occasionally at HIFA I take a complete chance on a show (well, that’s half the fun!) and it turns out to be a winner. I’d never heard of The Unsound and indeed, the band was created to put on a show for this HIFA. As individuals it seems that they have been around for a while as the Global Stage area was filled to capacity. What a talented group of musicians! Lead by Rina Mushonga who also wrote all the songs, they gave a thoroughly enjoyable and polished performance and had even got in a sizable backing choir from one of the private girls’ schools in Harare. I’d hesitate to describe the music as rock – maybe like Tracy Chapman but considerably more dynamic. So if they come to a venue near you give them your support – you won’t be disappointed!

The traditional HIFA opening show was this year replaced by a mass choir performance of Carmina Burana. I don’t do crowds well so I gave it a miss. It sounded impressive from the outside but I met more than one group of people who complained of over crowding. No excuse for that!

The Unsound