HIFA 30 April - 5 May 2019

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”.

Hon. Minister Kazembe Ray Kazembe MP, Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni, the City of Harare and the team at Harare Gardens, Zimbabwe Republic Police, Office of the President and Cabinet, all at the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe, Doreen Sibanda and Mrs Moyo at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, ZIMRA, NSSA, Department of Immigration, Board of Censors, Ruth Shato and the Chairman and Board of Zimbabwe International Book Fair, the team of Avondale Holdings, Nando’s Avondale, Creamy Inn Avondale, Isaac and Maurice Levy and Kim Nobes from Sam Levy’s Village, Zimbabwe College of Music, the Headmistress and Staff of Girls’ High School, Royal Harare Golf Club, Tinashe Moses, the Rector Fr. Joe Arimoso SJ and John Farrelly, Helen White and Mike Gaisford and all the Staff at St. George’s College, Kundisai Mtero, Renie Agar, Jeremy Brooke, Heinrich von Pezold, Rob Maunsell, the Staff of The Sanctuary at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Ambassador Cho Jaichel and Staff of the Embassy of the Republic of Korea, ZETDC, Peter Van Deventer and Norman Raisbeck of Multichoice, Giles Ramsay, Hope Masike, Rebecca Zeigler Mano, Ambassador Enrico De Agostini of the Embassy of Italy, Quality Paints, Formscaff, Halsted Timbers, Kingfisher Prints, City Parking, Municipal Police, Harare Fire Department, House Of Smiles, Volsec Security, Desmond Laurence - Multinet Projects, the manager and staff of Stanbic Bank Minerva Branch and the manager and staff of Stanbic Bank Westgate Branch, Roger and Nona Williams.


Founder & Artistic Director

Knowing that our voice, impulses and actions are meaningful drives artists to create, and to look at the world in a new way. But realizing that we can make a difference, individually and collectively, is not restricted to artists – everyone has the capacity and responsibility to change our world for the better; that’s what HIFA’s theme this year affirms.

There are so many people who have made life in Harare and Zimbabwe more beautiful through their partnership with HIFA this year and it is a privilege to acknowledge them and sincerely thank them – the incredible HIFA team, the Embassies and corporate partners who support our vision, the Amigos, friends and audience members who constantly show love and patience, and most of all, the artists who define how the Festival feels, and who create the experiences that change our lives and shift our perspectives.


You are all truly amazing and together I believe we are making transformative things happen. It’s true that we all count, but there is no room for complacency- this is a new dawn for this country and for HIFA; so many meaningful things have been achieved over the last year, and I, for one, am excited about all the possibilities that the future holds, beginning with six days of inspiration, motivation, stimulation and innovation at HIFA 2018!




Chairman of the HIFA Board of Trustees

HIFA is becoming more important than ever before in the fabric of Zimbabwean life and this programme is testimony to the spirit and courage of the people of Zimbabwe.

The HIFA Team is a microcosm of the determination and valour which have become so prevalent in our country in recent months. I wish to place on record my sincere gratitude to the HIFA Management Team, all the consultants and numerous volunteers for their self-sacrifice and belief in this amazing initiative. I am truly privileged to work with enthusiastic and committed members of the Board of Trustees who, like me, have no qualms about burning the midnight oil to ensure that HIFA’s lofty goals come to fruition.

HIFA is a tremendous community initiative which is so essential especially at this time in our country’s history. It gives me immense pleasure to COUNT the City of Harare among HIFA’s worthy supporters and to thank the various Government Ministries as well as their respective departments and/or agencies for unstintingly supporting what HIFA is trying to achieve.

I am also eternally grateful to the donors, Embassies and Zimbabwean corporate partners who have all been an integral part of this year’s Festival. Your invaluable support of HIFA is an endorsement of Zimbabwe, its wonderful people and its diverse array of arts and culture, all of which constitute demonstrable and tangible evidence that Zimbabwe is indeed OPEN FOR ARTISTIC AND CULTURAL BUSINESS.

Welcome everyone to HIFA 2018 – WE DO COUNT in every facet of artistic and cultural endeavours in our beloved Zimbabwe.


Executive Director

WE COUNT! Do we actually? Does HIFA count? Are we, as a nation saying enough about our Country and what is important to its people? In organising HIFA 2018 I am unsure as to my answers to these questions being affirmative. When at my most disappointed, I just need to turn to the HIFA Team whose patriotism and determination is palpable- a truly incredible group of Zimbabweans who should be celebrated. You definitely COUNT.

The Zimbabwean Corporate Community who has come behind HIFA 2018 certainly should be counted as ensuring our Country is open for business and willing to engage. These companies engage with the community because they believe such an affirmative interface counts. I admire, respect and thank you all. It is so important and essential, especially now, for Zimbabwean artists to be appreciated – the Embassies who have engaged artists from their countries to be part of HIFA also COUNT. Meaningful engagement is what the Zimbabwean public and artists demand.

I thank all the Embassies and Donors who are participating this year. We turn to the media to encourage and inform us – as a people we are confused and uncertain but your coverage of HIFA 2018 truly counts in the minds of the public. Thank you for participating and imbibing the spirit of HIFA 2018. The HIFAmigos are an essential component in HIFA’s endeavours to COUNT. Your loyalty and belief in HIFA keeps the Team going. You all definitely COUNT. Finally to you, the audience – help us make HIFA COUNT. Let us stand up and be counted as a proud people, a people who the rest of world should regard with respect and admiration. WE ALL COUNT

Sign up for our newsletter