Curtains finally came down on the 2017 edition of the Harare Festival of the Arts (HIFA) with a world class performance from Mali’s famous pop star, Habib Koite and Zimbabwean music legend, Oliver Mtukudzi.
The two and a half hour performance was a befitting end to the festival which had taken a one year sabbatical owing to financial problems.
Thousands of revellers attended the event, which closed off the six day event that was filled with dance, music, fashion and visual arts that saw hundreds of artistes from all over the world performing at the five star festival.
However, the festival was marred with controversy as fans who attended the Oliver Mtukudzi and Winky D show on Friday night felt short-changed after the latter only made a cameo appearance on stage.
This is besides the fact that HIFA organizers had advertised the show as a collaboration of the two musicians.
The self-proclaimed King of Zim-Dancehall, Winky D , came on stage late in the evening after Samanyanga had performed and could only manage 3 songs, leaving thousands of fans who had parted way with the $15 entry fee asking for more.
After the show, fans who spoke to 263Chat expressed their dismay in the manner the show was handled, accusing HIFA of fleecing them of their hard earned money.
“I came here for Winky D not Tuku because I’m a big of the Gafa President but to my surprise he only came on stage for a few minutes and he only performed a few songs. This is daylight robbery by HIFA,” said Melisa from who attended the show.
“I want my change back because Winky D did nothing. I can’t pay $15 for such a performance. He only performed for less than 30 minutes and you expect me to be happy with that?” another fan who attended the show questioned.
Another group of fans who claimed to have drove all the way from Bulawayo said they will not attend any HIFA event in the future owing to some dis-organisation within the organisers,
“I will never attend any future HIFA events, I cannot be driving from Bulawayo only to come here and watch a 30 minute show. I paid a lot of money and we all know the economy is so bad but I sacrificed the little that I had,” said the fans while adding that this was the worst festival ever hosted by HIFA.
As if that was not enough, fans bemoaned the lack of communication from the show organizers after the show was moved from its original slot of 10 pm only to be staged at 7 pm.
Some fans that came at 9pm holding their tickets, were turned away after being told he show was over.
In an exclusive interview with 263Chat, HIFA executive director, Maria Wilson, dismissed poor planning as she said they followed proper procedures in notifying the change in plans.
Wilson also said, contrary, to the perception around, the show was originally an Oliver Mtukudzi show which would be graced by his friends, who included Winky D and there was a limit on the number of songs the Disappear hit maker would perform.
“It was supposed to be a Tuku show and Winky D as guest. So I think when you bring in a guest there is a limit to how many songs they can perform.
“He is such an incredible performer as can be judged by the row of the crowd when he came on the crowd, but he was a guest performer so he couldn’t have out staged Mtukudzi to become the major star,” said Wilson.
Quizzed on the change of time slots which resulted in some fans coming late, Wilson said HIFA was not responsible for the fans that missed the show because they had run an advertisement notifying fans on the change of time.
“We went all over various radio stations; we did as much social media awareness as was possible from the box officers but it wasn’t our fault that some fans missed the show.
“The change in the time slots was beyond our control; it was the Tuku management that came up with that as the man himself had other commitments that he needed to attend to the same night.
“I feel for those that missed the show but there is nothing we can do really,” said Wilson while dismissing that a refund would be paid.
This year’s festival was running under the theme “Staging an intervention.”