About the Festival

About the Festival


“HIFA is giving me a slot to play, but it is also giving me the opportunity to learn. To the artists this is important. To the country itself this is important.”

Former street youth employed by HIFA
“the reference I got from HIFA made it possible for me to apply for my first job. That was 3 years ago and I now have my own small business. My journey started with living on the streets and I now feel safe and like I know where my life is going. HIFA made that possible for me.” 

Craft artist
“I was able to get to know my fellow craftsmen from our beautiful country, share my skills with them as well as being inspired by their work.” 

Audience member
“Living in Zimbabwe can sometimes feel like you’re dealing with a painful illness every day – HIFA is a powerful medicine that makes me and thousands of others feel better and able to face the days and months ahead.” 

Young orphan brought to HIFA as part of our community engagement programming
“HIFA was the best day of my life. I met other young people, I danced, I sang, I felt happier than I thought possible. I rode in an elevator for the first time and met Oliver Mtukudzi. I will never forget it.” 

Audience member
“I am glad to be a part of something I am deeply in love with. And as a young person I know the future of the Arts in Zimbabwe lies in my hands.” 

Audience member  
“HIFA is absolutely fantastic and it is always a pleasure for me because I never get to travel. The whole world is brought to me. Thanks!” 

NewsDay (Zim)
“HIFA has grown to be one of the most vibrant festivals on the continent as it brings together Zimbabweans and others from beyond to witness its continued support of local artistes…” 

The Saturday Telegraph Magazine (UK)
"...to raise millions of Zimbabwean dollars from 55 private sponsors, attract quality artists from around the world, and introduce dynamism, flexibility and optimism [to Harare]…was a Herculean achievement." 

Supplier to HIFA
“It is so difficult to keep going in Zimbabwe at the moment, especially if you are a small business. What we find is that from around the beginning of the year it’s as if everyone is waiting for HIFA. HIFA happens, we get so much business from both the Festival and its backers. This gives us the push we need for the next 3 to 5 months. It’s as if people say, well, if HIFA happened, we can make things happen. From November the enthusiasm starts running down again and we wait for HIFA.”

The Sunday Independent (South Africa)
“The Harare International Festival of the Arts is probably the best organised Festival in the sub-continent and one of the most manageably diverse”

“Zimbabwe: HIFA to Showcase Country’s Endurance”

The Guardian (UK)
“Seven days of fantasy in a city of crushing reality.”

The Stage (UK)
“...for 6 glorious days, against all odds and in an incredibly hostile economic environment, Zimbabweans refused to be cowed. They said what they thought, they stood up for those unable to defend themselves and they made their voices heard. HIFA is a democracy in action and in the new Zimbabwe....the festival will... continue to expand and give hope to a new nation.”

The Guardian
“To see the London Festival Opera singing, accompanied by the Zimbabwe National Ballet, was to witness arias to freedom and a choreography of hope.”



Total number of performances 192
Number of collaborations 23
Number of outreach performances ( free shows performed outside the Festival site) 29
Audience attending free First Street performances 5000
Number of workshops 25
Number of artists participating 1328
Number of visiting artists 287
Number of Zimbabwean artists 1041
Number of nationalities participating 43
Number of orphans and vulnerable children brought on to site during the week 300
Number of students trained and employed 175
Number of street youth trained and employed 65
Number of people employed (site, general technical hands etc) 1200
Number attending the professional networking arts market 100

HIFA is a 6-day annual festival and workshop programme that showcases the very best of local, regional and international arts and culture in a comprehensive festival programme of theatre,dance, music, circus, street performance, fashion, spoken word and visual arts. HIFA has come to be seen as an important symbol of something positive about Zimbabwe, unifying socially and culturally disparate groups of Zimbabweans at a time of ideological conflict and political uncertainty bringing huge audiences together to celebrate something positive – the healing and constructive capacity of the arts.

Since its inception in 1999, the Festival has received recognition for its support of arts and culture in Zimbabwe and is seen as a major contributor to development in this area. HIFA is now the largest cultural event in Zimbabwe and among the eight major festivals in Africa. HIFA has gained local and international media praise on many fronts, for example, Robert Grieg writing in the South Africa Sunday Independent -“The Harare International Festival of the Arts is probably the best organised festival in the sub-continent and one of the most manageably diverse. More importantly in the current socio-economic situation HIFA has come to be seen as an important symbol of something positive about Zimbabwe”.

Mr Aron Rashama and Stanbic Bank Minerva Team, Nhaka Foundation, Elvas Mari, Nicholas Moyo, Audrey Charamba, Caroline Makoni and all at the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe, Department of Immigration, ZIMRA, Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni, Engineer Philip Pfukwa of the City of Harare, the Management and Team of the Harare Gardens, ZETDC, Doreen Sibanda and the Staff of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Dutch Reformed Church, ZIBF, Chairman and Members of Reps Theatre, the team of Avondale Holdings, Nando’s, Len and Angela Thomas and all at the Wendy House, Kevin Atkinson, Helen White and Mrs Lawson of St. George’s College, Management and Staff of Kwamambo 40 Cork Road, the Team of Sable Press, Zimbabwe College of Music, Julian Davies, Stewart Wilson, Sam Wharton, Bako Animation, Prince Edward School, Ministries of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Finance and Economic Development, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Information, Media and Broadcasting Services, Sport, Arts and Culture and Home Aff airs, Royal Harare Golf Club and very specially, Mark Oxley.


Founder & Artistic Director

We’re all so proud of the HIFA programme this year. The range and quality of performances and exhibitions are a tribute to a dream team, energetic Board, committed partners and a highly articulate audience. Communal creative thinking makes this Festival what it has become, and I sincerely thank everyone who shares our vision of what is possible if we commit together to a courageous idea.

Welcome and congratulations to all the artists performing in HIFA this year. The number and quality of applications from Zimbabwe and across the globe made the selection process both exciting and humbling. We will do everything we can to find ways for all artists to exchange ideas, skills and inspiration with colleagues, mentors and collaborators at HIFA 2015.

How dull the world would be if we didn’t have some form of artistic life. How would we share the things that cannot be communicated in any other way, and have fun at the same time? How would we rise above words to articulate the most poetic aspects of being human? The arts can express the best of who we are as individuals and as a vital nation. Come to HIFA this year and connect with the arts, and with your own perceptions about life. This is our opportunity to articulate who we want to be, so speak up!

We look forward to welcoming you.


Chairman of the HIFA Board of Trustees

The work which the indefatigable HIFA Team, ably led by Maria Wilson, the Executive Director, and Manuel Bagorro, the Artistic Director, has put into this year’s edition of the annual Festival is truly outstanding.

As we are wont to say euphemistically in our part of the world, it has always been “very challenging” to stage HIFA on an annual basis but the preparations to get HIFA 2015 off the ground turned out to be exceptionally difficult. That the HIFA Team managed to pull off this monumental feat bears testimony to the dedication and passion which each and every member of the team has towards not only their city, Harare, but also their country, Zimbabwe, by creating something positive and enduring. The team guards jealously its commitment to the Zimbabwean people by demonstrating what Zimbabwe can achieve through high quality home-grown products such as HIFA.

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I would like to thank the HIFA Team most sincerely for what is often a thankless task. I would also like to thank other key stakeholders who have done their bit to bring HIFA 2015 to fruition. It would not be possible to stage an event of this magnitude and diversity without the support of the City of Harare as well as various Government Ministries and their respective Departments and/or Agencies.

HIFA also owes a huge debt of gratitude to various embassies and donor agencies which have played a pivotal role in the success of the annual Festival from inception in 1999 to date. A special mention must also be made of the Zimbabwean corporate organisations which, in spite of a particularly diffi cult operating environment, have seen the value of HIFA, beyond marketing and advertising, as a community initiative and have, therefore, continued to lend their unstinting support.

HIFA would like to invite everyone to eloquently ARTICULATE the story about the huge reservoir of TALENT with which Zimbabwe is blessed in the fi elds of ARTS and CULTURE through dance, music, theatre, spoken word and craft and design.


Executive Director

It is my pleasure to ARTICULATE that HIFA 2015, a true miracle IS HAPPENING! Like all Zimbabweans we have had to face overwhelming difficulties and the HIFA Team has pushed themselves to exhaustion point in ensuring the survival of this initiative. With tremendous sadness I have watched as a culture of selfishness and greed appears to now be entrenched in our communities, and the spirit of wanting something good to happen in our wonderful country, with no hidden agenda or attitude of “what’s in it for me?”, has all but disappeared.


Conversely, the HIFA Team truly believes in what the Festival stands for: a non-racial, multi-gender, multi-cultural, multi-political, multi-aged event that shows what Zimbabwe could be. Their dedication and loyalty to the objectives of the Festival should be applauded. In the midst of an unfathomable economic situation, the Zimbabwean Corporate Community has continued to back HIFA. I implore ALL who participate in HIFA, to take note of this courageous and innovative group of businesses – they have sincerely committed to Zimbabwe and her people. Likewise the Donor Community particularly, has shown an unwavering support of the Zimbabwean people through their backing of HIFA 2015.

Together with a steadfast group of Embassies, encouragement of Zimbabwean fortitude is being clearly ARTICULATED. The media captures the essence of the Zimbabwean people and because of the ARTICULATED word that they put out through multiple channels, their partnership with HIFA is not something ever taken for granted by the Festival. In this current context, friends are few and far between – the hifAmigos are genuine friends to HIFA – the Festival celebrates our great country and its arts and culture with you. The Chairman and the Board of HIFA have provided constant sustenance to the Festival Management and Team and have championed HIFA’s objectives in all their own activities. Without you, the public, HIFA will not be able to survive into the future. I entreat you all to ARTICULATE your belief in the future of Zimbabwe through your unshakeable support for HIFA 2015.

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