By Irene Gaitirira
Published November 6, 2015
A festival that celebrates the genre of protest arts by acknowledging and promoting its role in community dialogue and development opened in Harare on November 6, 2015.
The two-day event dubbed Protest Arts International Festival (PAIF) focuses on music, dance, comedy, theatre and the spoken word and brings together artists of diverse genres and cultures.
Among the featured acts are the vibrant musical theatre piece, Stimela (South Africa) – a powerful story told through narration, song and gumboot dance; Zimbabwe’s Tumbuka Dance Company; local music artists Gary Tight, Synik, Macintosh Jerahuni, ‘Talking Guitars’; comedian Doc Vikela; several theatre pieces from Harare, Bulawayo and Masvingo, individual performances by some of Zimbabwe’s top poets, and a joint spoken-word session with the House of Hunger Poetry Slam.
The initiative of Pamberi Trust and Savannah Trust, PAIF is held in the former’s new garden at 90 Selous Avenue between 8th and 9th Street in the Zimbabwean capital.
Besides supporting PAIF by providing venue, music and sound equipment and publicity and technical support, Pamberi Trust is also supporting two acts at the festival: the young and rising Gary Tight of Harare and the play, The Taking, by Bulawayo playwright Raisedon Baya; as well as a joint afternoon session with Pamberi Trust’s vibrant monthly poetry platform, the House of Hunger Poetry Slam.
Gary Tight, scheduled to perform on the first day of PAIF, brings to the festival what Pamberi refers to as “some of the freshest music around” from a “talented young artist [who] has grown under the guidance of his father Willom Tight, to be an exciting and hardworking musician who entered Pamberi Trust’s youth programme a few years ago through the Monday Open Mic, progressed to a dedicated weeknight show and as support act for established artists.”
The Taking is a fast-paced, much-praised theatre piece written by the award-winning playwright Raisedon Baya, which uses song, dance, mime, vivid imagery and clever storytelling to explore complex issues surrounding Zimbabwe’s land issues. It is a powerful history lesson with a difference; it shall be presented at 6.00 pm on the second day of the festival.
House of Hunger Poetry Slam shall provide a poetry platform on Saturday, November 7, at the festival. The slam has continued unabated for more than a decade, fuelled by the artistry and energies of many poets of Zimbabwe who have welcomed the stage for freedom of expression and exposure. A number of poets have grown from this platform to gain recognition in Zimbabwe and beyond, along with poetry initiatives such as Magamba Network’s Shoko Festival, and Zimbabwe Poets for Human Rights.