HIFA 2014 – Day 6

6 05 2014

HIFA is now over of course. My internet did not work for a full 3 days which is why these posts are late. It took an hour on the phone to a support centre and the good fortune to be chatting to a technician who actually did know what he was talking about to sort it out. It’s still erratic but at least it is working.

I thought the programme this year was good. I only saw 2 plays that I thought were sub-standard but that is the nature of arts festivals. I cannot answer the question as to which was my favorite show but I did really enjoy the acoustic guitarists, all of whom were exceptional in their own way. It is of course common knowledge by now that the government blocked the visas of the South African pop group Freshly Ground who were due to play at the closing ceremony on this last day sponsored by Old Mutual, an insurance company. This was apparently over a song that the group released some years back that mocked the president of Zimbabwe (see this link). In true HIFA fashion a plan was made, another German group stepped up to the stage along with a host of other international artistes and the show went on!

I did not attend the final closing but did get to see a few other things. First on the list was the local National Ballet production – the Breakthrough. A real crowd pleaser with a bit of contemporary ballet and just about every other genre of dance one could think of. It purported to show how all these other styles developed from classical ballet but I wouldn’t vouch for the accuracy of that. The crowd didn’t mind and it was well attended on both days.

 

It was with more than a bit of trepidation that I made my way to the finals of The Trash Queen fashion show but it was not at all what I thought it would be. Participants had to design and make a fashion attire from trash. Any sort of trash would do – air filter, bubble wrap, CDs and loads of other rubbish was used. Participants were individuals and self-help groups, remand centre children and local schools. Fun!

Right after the fashion show I moved nearly next door to hear a South African group John Wizards (apparently named after a band member). They seemed pretty chilled. And the music?  It sounded like it came from Cape Town. Afro something or other. Not my taste.

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Then it was time to go home, exercise and feed the dogs and come back to REPS theatre for Bend it Like Beauty with Ben Voss posing as a Zulu woman who succeeds in insulting just about everyone. Very funny but he had to excise rather a lot of political material and as a result I recognized a lot of stuff from a previous show a few years back. Freedom of speech is enshrined in our constitution but does not apply to everybody. I did not take photos – there are only so many photos one can take of a comedian on stage and anyway, I wanted a break!





HIFA 2014 – Day 5

6 05 2014

Day 5, the penultimate day of HIFA 2014 was sponsored by Coca-cola. I started off slow with the Spoken Word programme because it was next to the next venue I wanted to go to. It’s been going quite a few years and can be very entertaining. Not everyone spoke (poetry usually) but the youngster in the photo had an amazing voice. He is a protege of Oliver Mutukudzi’s centre for aspiring musicians in Norton to the west of Harare.

Zimboita is an Italian/Zimbabwean music group (Zimbo + Ita-lian – get it?) fronted by local drummer/percussionist Blessing Chimanga who proved himself quite the entertainer. It’s difficult to describe the style – Afro/rock/blues perhaps? It went down very well!

Maneli Jamal is an acoustic guitarist of Iranian descent who has spent most of his life on the move. Canada is finally where he finds himself at home. Entirely self-taught he is a virtuoso player and well worth going to see. A very different style of music to the other 2 acoustic guitarists who came to HIFA this year.

Attachded was a circus show presented by Swedish Cultural Council and the Embassy of Sweden. Starring a very big man (who looked like his ancestors must have been Viking raiders) and a very small man they did the best they could with what few props had made it to Zimbabwe. The rest were still in a box in Stockholm! In true HIFA style lots of other artistes helped out and we had other circus performers, trapeze artistes from Belgium (les Cliquets), a local poet and one of the Opera singers and a comedienne compere who did her bit to make the audience squirm (apparently to lose weight). It had all been put together in the previous 12 hours and was good fun.





HIFA 2014 – Day 4

5 05 2014

Friday was Day 4, also known as Golden Pilsner Day (a local brand of beer). I re-attended the DFC Baobab Shadows to get some photos that had eluded me the first time around. That done I watched Short & Sweet, a series of 5 short plays by local writers (though one was actually impromptu). Coming Out by Blessing Hungwe about a son’s clash with his father was excellent. What are the Odds was a bit Monty Pythonesque but not bad. I did not care for City Angel or A Woman Called Carol about a prostitute and social mores respectively. The World Ten Minutes at a Time was an impromptu show by Kevin Hansen and 3 others. Genuinely funny, it went down well.

I Wish Her Well by Norwegian contemporary dance theatre Panta Rei was beautifully danced at REPS. In two acts, it told the stories of 4 women closely related to the dancers in the first act and the second act was based on the diaries of a teenage woman now 82.

Any Other World was a dance production by local (and new) 8 Count Dance Company. Colourful, energetic and fun! They won a NAMA (National Association of Music and Arts) award earlier this year.





HIFA 2014 – Day 3

5 05 2014

Right, now that the internet is back I can post! Hopefully it will last long enough…

Day 3 was Coca-Cola day and quite a busy one for me. First off a play, The Maids, a French written tragi-comedy about sisters working as maids in Paris for a tyrannical and erratic “Madame”. Great direction by Giles Ramsey at the Standard Theatre.

Also at the Standard Theatre was a double dance bill starting with Push Pull by the Dunia Dance Company telling the story of illegal African immigrants into Spain who often die en route. Graphic stuff. The second half was Prelude by Aida Diaz and to quote the programme: “Prelude speaks of the systematic rape of beauty, the loss of innocence and ultimately of forgiveness
and redemption. A hymn to life, born from a deep sigh.”

Will McNicol’s second programme of acoustic guitar music by composers who had influenced him was next door at the NMB Recital Room.  Understated and unassuming he is an extraordinary player. I particularly liked his version of the blues – yes from and acoustic guitar! He has one more show today (Sunday) in the “Battle of the Guitars” with the other acoustic guitar players at HIFA but it’s sold out. Never mind, if he comes to a venue near you go and see him – you will be enthralled.

In the evening I caught singer songwriter Josephine from the UK. Not my style of music but it was a full Lays Global Stage and the rest of the audience enjoyed it.

In the evening was the first performance of the Dance Foundation Course’s “Baobab Shadows”. A collaboration with Dunia Dance Theatre of Belgium and Les Cliquets, trapeze artistes also from Belgium. It made innovative use of shadows and a backdrop. It was enthusiastically received by a small audience. At the second performance I tried a technique of blurring the shots to get an idea of movement. I think it worked well.





HIFA 2014 – Day 2

1 05 2014

A busy day. Traditionally sponsored by CABS, a local banking group, and with it the traditional opera night. Best described as opera light for novices, a lot of small but well known pieces are sung. I am not much of an opera fan but there is no denying the skill of the singers. It’s a fairly casual affair – only the singers and musicians dress up, the rest of us bring food and wine and sit on the grass. Yes, it IS a spectacle but if you missed it this year you will just have to wait until next year.

My first assignment of the day was the National Ballet modelling bridal inspired fashion at the fashion dome. No supermodel strutting here – it was all en pointe. A bit brief the show lasted all of 15 minutes so if you are thinking of catching the second half be on time.

Vibe Culture are a local band that plays “afro-mbira rock fusion” (according to the programme. Not that I would know!). Accomplished musicians all (that’s from my friend Caro who knows about these things) the lead singer has a fantastic voice and the dancer is probably the most photogenic performer I’ve seen in a long time!

Stephen Prutsman looked visibly jet-lagged on stage but still produced great classical piano music with “Bach and Forth” a melange of Bach and other composers moving forward in time (alternating between Bach and the others). If you appreciate good classical music and can recognize great piano playing you should catch the second show on Friday evening at the NMB Recital Room.

aCadao Canto are a Spanish group and very easy listening. They play mainly Galician music and will be on again at Lays Global Stage Thursday evening. If you just want to chill at the end of a hectic day and take in something different, then get there.





HIFA 2014 – “Switch On!” Day 1

30 04 2014

HIFA is up and running again! Day 1 was BancABC day (they sponsored it) and there was plenty to see. I missed one Australian circus show as it was fully booked and as a photographer couldn’t get in (jeez, what are these guys’ priorities?). However there was still a Gong Myoung, a Korean mixed show of music and hip-hop that was amazing. An interesting type of music, some beautiful though I did not take to the opera much. NOBODY, and I mean nobody, does hip hop like the Koreans. Worth seeing just for that so catch them again at the 7 Arts theatre on Thursday.

Second up was an Italian guitarist Andrea Valeri who not only is an extraordinary player but a great showman too. He’s playing again on Sunday at Lay’s Global Stage and again with two other guitarists (I met one on the shuttle bus) in the Battle of the Guitarists at the same venue also on Sunday. Should be good.

Then I got my cellphone stolen by a pretend drunk which is why this is a bit of a rush – spent most of yesterday evening resetting passwords! Will get back to this and update it tonight – I promise.





The import issue

17 04 2014
  1. Deirdre Holcroft shared a link.
    4 April
    Hi Deirdre,
    I did have mixed feelings about this when I first heard of it. Generally I am not in favour of protectionism which I presumed this to be. However, a lot of my customers complain that they just cannot compete with the South African imports that this was supposedly targeting. My seed supplier tells me that the carrots that come into this country (yes it does seem daft that we import carrots which is something we grow perfectly well) are grown by a South African farmer who grows 900ha. No, there are the correct number of zeros there. On this scale he can afford to take a very small markup and it would be difficult to compete. Of course there are some things such as cabbages which would be impossible to get here economically due to their weight. Having said that there is a shortage this season and prices are sky high. This is largely due to a major producer being kicked off his farm and to the abnormally heavy rains in February that trashed many crops.
    I was chatting to someone I know on the weekend who works for Selby Enterprises that produce quite a lot of fresh produce and import what they cannot grow. He was of the opinion that the ban was designed to take the small cross border traders out of the market. They buy cheap,  poor quality produce then import it and bribe the customs not to pay duties and sell it off very cheaply to the informal markets. Then he added; “Of course you can still get an import permit if you pay a bit extra”. No surprises here really; nearly anything is available in Zimbabwe for a price.
    Apparently in Botswana they have a system whereby the government meets fresh produce suppliers weekly and issues import permits based on expected shortfalls. This is a model that should have been adapted; if the purpose of the scheme was actually to protect local suppliers and not give those with contacts preferential access to import permits.
    I have heard people question the need for a lot of the luxury produce that comes into this country (I have commented on Egyptian grapes in the supermarkets elsewhere in this blog). No, we don’t NEED luxury produce but it is really a miniscule part of our already massive import bill and our problems run far deeper as anyone who has followed the link you provided will have realized. I heard that at last year’s CFU (Commercial Farmers’ Union) Congress the guest of honour was a Zambian woman who is the chairman of the equivalent organisation in Zambia. In her address she commented that Zambia is now an exporter of maize for the first time in many years. She stopped short of saying it was thanks to the Zimbabwean farmers who fled the land grab exercise and settled in Zambia, but the inference was there. As you know, we now need to import maize to meet our requirements of this staple food; an undesirable situation if ever there was one. Zambia did say earlier this year (or was it at the end of last year?) that it would give us maize on credit but then they changed their minds. Such is our credit rating. Maize production was subsidized for many years in this country just to avoid this sort of situation and this is one of the few instances where I think a subsidy is justified.
    So, this morning I found myself in Borrowdale Village shopping centre and went past a fish shop that I’d passed many times but never entered. Curious, I went inside and in the spirit of this post bought myself two pieces of Scottish salmon. No, I will not divulge how much they cost. But it was delicious!







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