If you were having coffee with me I would wish you a Happy New Year… Hello January the Monday of Months.
I got to shut down my 2022 on quite the artistic high by attending an arts festival in Bulawayo, the second largest city in Zimbabwe and high key the creative capital for the arts. Yes I am the guy who endured a six hour bus ride and covered 440km to attend Intwasa Arts Festival KoBulawayo.
Intwasa means spring in Ndebele and the festival is traditionally held in September which coincides with our Spring Season. (Side note I feel like we have about two seasons – winter and not winter which consists of hot dry season and hot wet season) This year due to reasons beyond the organisers control the 18th edition of Intwasa was postponed from its September calendar to December (although some of the scheduled events were still held in September with the December Edition dubbed #IntwasaExtra22) Personally I would hope they continue to hold a December calendar which is the most festive month of the year.
If you were having coffee with me, I would tell you what prompted me to attend this festival; during a Creative Hustle Seminar there was talk about how there was no proper critiques in theatre in mainstream media and arts journalism was carried out by folks who didn’t seem to understand or have a passion for the arts; so when I saw that the line-up included a masterclass on Arts Reporting for Journalists and Bloggers – of course how could I not take up the opportunity to rub shoulders with industry experts while also indulging in an artsy adventure.
I attended the headline act Women, Wine and Words show featuring acts by Tariro Negitare, Thandy Dhlana, Nkwali, Michelle Tanya and a debut perfomance by Kahyna— and yes men were welcome to attend. Women, Wine and Words was a finger snapping, hand clapping scintillating experience with lovers of spoken word and poetry at heart.
I had a brief chat with Michelle before her performance and am totally taking credit small small for helping her shake off the pre-performance knots and went on to deliver a killer opening act. I also ran into Batsirai Chigama who had travelled from Harare with her ensemble for a theatrical reading of Can We Talk a poem in her book For Women Trying To Breathe And Failing.
Tariro Negatire got the audience to their feet when she perfomed the hit Chitima which if popular sentiment holds true should always be part of her set. Nkwali ended the night on some energetic dance and song, a student of The Inkululeko Yabatsha School of Arts IYASA on stage she is poetry in motion and was the perfect wrap for the perfect evening of Women, Wine and Words.
If you were having coffee with me I would tell you that after a night of music and poetry I didn’t wake up early enough to attend the Digital Skills Masterclass (besides, as I told myself I would be better suited as a facilitator for such a session ha🤣) The Poetry Slam billed for the afternoon was cancelled and so I checked out the Xtra Youth Concert, it was scheduled to start at 3pm but started much later. I saw a couple of acts and soon after a fascinating performance by Simunye Simunye had to leave the concert to dash of to Bulawayo Theatre to watch The Vagina Monologues Africa…
The Vagina Monologues Africa is African rendition of Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues produced by Chipo Mawarire. I had watched the play online during lockdown and had forgotten the power of an audience when you watch a play live compared to watching it by yourself in your living room.. The way the audience starts of shocked during the opening act when the cast introduce the various names by which vaginas are known, nervous giggles wondering if they can say things like and by the end of the play the audience would be liberated, laughing heartily and perhaps leave the theatre a little more informed.
Overally, Intwasa Festival was a beautiful experience although I hope in the future the organisers work on their scheduling and time keeping such that they don’t split attention, for example I missed watching the award winning play Zandezi since it was billed at the same time as Women, Wine and Words and I had a heck of time picking between the two, and then I had to leave the Bulawayo Youth Concert halfway to be able to watch The Vagina Monolgues Africa.
On the sidelines of the festival I also ran into some people whom I have known and interacted with online but never met.
I also had interesting adventures navigating the streets of Bulawayo which I am not familiar with and figuring out the various bus stops with my rudimentary comprehension of siNdebele which is mostly greetings such as salibonani which means hello.
If you were having coffee with me, I would tell you that the electricity seemed to behave decently during the festive period (some say its because companies had taken their annual shutdown so there was a lower power demand which meant less load shedding)
Happy New Year 🥳 Whats been going on in your corner of the world?
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