Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) 2011

28 04 2011

As I write this HIFA 2011 is in the closing phase (please see the page on the right for a gallery of photos). The final HIFAlutin (get the pun?) newssheet was produced last night so I am no longer required to take photos and though I have a pass to get into anything there was nothing in the programme for today that I thought warranted a trip into town. As a photographer I was required to take photos of shows that the editorial staff wanted to cover; either a special interest or something that needed coverage to sell a few more tickets so quite a lot of it I would not have attended out of choice. But that’s OK, I got exposure to some interesting stuff and I got some nice photos – well I think so!

So today has been a slow day. I even had to go grocery shopping as I’d done nothing during the week. I abhor shopping at the best of times so it really was a drag to do on a day off but well, the cupboard was bare. Kharma watched me with some trepidation – poor girl, she’s a real person dog and hated being left alone all day and well into the night while I was at the Festival. She leaped into the back of the ‘Cruiser with alacrity and kept guard whilst I did the shopping.

“Hello Sir!” says an opportunistic vendor looking for an opening to sell me somthing.

“Hello and no thanks I don’t want, knives, or steering wheel covers, or brushes, or my car painted, or mats, or superglue or padlocks. In fact I don’t want ANYTHING! You could GIVE me what you are trying to sell me and I would give it back to you!”

Silence.

“That’s a big dog you have.”

“Yes it is a VERY big dog.”

“What’s it’s name?”

“It’s name is BITE and it wants to bite you!”

“Ah!” He takes a step back and turns away. I grin at the accomplice who can see I am joking. He smiles but says nothing.

It’s a rathy tatty supermarket and not my first choice but today is Africa Day and the other one was closed. I cut short my shopping list when I walk past the meat counter and am assailed by a rather meaty sort of smell. I grab three newspapers at the till to read on the way out.

There are no real Sunday papers in the tradition of the UK. The Sunday papers there took a full week to read, they were so full of information. In fact the three papers I have picked up are weeklies – the Zimbabwe Independent, The Standard and The Financial Gazette. It’s just the same old news from slightly different perspectives. The political impasse in the country is dominant and I have no trouble in getting through them all in half an hour – I need newspapers to clean windows and light fires. There is one piece on the HIFA opening show that got a few of the senior organizers arrested and released without charge and the police apparently denying that anything happened at all. The rest of the coverage of the Festival is minimal. A page is dedicated to the day’s programme and highlights but the photos are small and of little interest.

HIFA is much more than an annual Festival. There are lots of outreach programmes and skills exchange which culminate in the Festival. And the Festival is much more than that – there are lots of workshops and master classes on the go too. It will take a few weeks to clean up in all senses of the word, the permanent staff take a break and then it starts all over again.

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