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Hifa's Spoken Word: All about engagement
Ngoni Muzofa, The Independent (Zimbabwe)
April 07, 2011

http://www.theindependent.co.zw/entertainment/30542-hifas-spoken-word-all-about-engagement.html

Once again the Harare International Festival of the Arts (Hifa) bug is about to bite the capital starting April 26 up to May 1. This year it is all about engagement and in keeping with this theme the Hifa 2011 Spoken Word programme aims to provide a platform for engagement, "to stimulate dialogue through the celebration of African expression".

Curated by poet Chirikure Chirikure, the Hifa 2011 Spoken Word programme will feature writers from across Africa, namely Malawi, Botswana, South Africa, Kenya, Ghana and Zimbabwe as well as a guest artist from Denmark.

Each day of the festival, the programme will focus on a different theme, featuring different languages, styles, rhythms and patterns, poetry, prose, chants and soulful music. According to the festival organisers each performer will have the liberty to interpret the themes in their own way.

From Kenya comes Ngwatilo Mawiyoo a performing artist and writer best known for her work in poetry and film. Earlier this month, she was on a tour of Southern Africa for the Poetry Africa Festival. Mawiyoo's first book of poems, Blue Mothertongue published last year, is a collection set in Nairobi and the African diaspora. It explores the themes of home, loss and healing.

In her performance work, Ngwatilo sometimes experiments with the capacity of music, dance and video to read and tell, both to complicate and to simplify poetry, calling these techniques "Puesic".

Zimbabwean Daniel Mandishona studied graphic design and then architecture at the Bartlett School, University College London. He began writing in 1982 after reading Dambudzo Marechera's House of Hunger.

His first short story, A Wasted Land was published in Contemporary African Short Stories (Heinemann, 1992). His latest short story collection, White Gods Black Demons is set to be released by Weaver Press.

Livewire Alice "Thanda" Richardson is also set to perform at Hifa. Known for her passion and energy for dancehall reggae and raga, she calls her music "a fusion for the youth of the 21st Century".

South African sculptor, poet, writer and academic Pitika Ntuli combines a vast store of African mythology and history to improvise in his evocative poetry. Ntuli is an expert in African indigenous knowledge systems. He is a regular political and cultural commentator on SABC 2. He is a well-known poet and speaker who has been a keynote speaker at numerous high profile events and has read his poetry at many fora.

The shows will cost US$6. However other Spoken Word shows in the HIVOS Poetry Café will be free if you have either bought a general admission ticket to the Hifa site or have a ticket to any other show.

Other artists billed to perform in the programme include Quaye Kojo from Ghana, Ewok from South Africa, Q Malewezi from Malawi and T J Dema from Botswana. To cap the foreign entourage will be renowned Danish poet Morten Søndergaard.

The Zimbabwean complement will also include Valerie Tagwira, Nevanji Madanhire, Mgcini Nyoni, Bhekusa Moyo, Blackheat deShanti, Linda Gabriel, Aura, Upmost, Mbizo Chirasha, and as a special guest, Outspoken.

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