SPRING time is upon us. Intwasa as it is called in Ndebele, is a time for new beginnings.
-Nkululeko INNOCENT DUBE
The flowers are blooming, seeds begin to sprout and trees wake up from their winter dormancy looking forward to the forthcoming season, summer.
There could be no better time for the city of Bulawayo to host Intwasa Arts Festival KoBulawayo.
As from September 24 to 29 the city will be abuzz with arts as Intwasa Festival invades the cultural capital with multi art genres.
The line-up is appetising.
It comprises an across-the-continent selection of performances including Durban’s Flatfoot Dance Company, Harare’s Tumbuka Dance Company, Women in Theatre, South Africa’s Monapeng and Omphile Molusi, Jeys Marabini, Ndolwane, the new all-female a cappella sensation Nobuntu, Dudu Manhenga, Selmor Mtukudzi, Ghetto Waves from Botswana, Tukuye Sounds, Bulawayo’s Chibuku Traditional dance national champions who recently dazzled the Americans, Umkhathi Theatre Works and many more other seasoned acts.
Intwasa is also renowned for its ever impressive opening event that brings together the city’s artistes in a unified performance.
The open air Chibuku stage is probably one of the biggest attractions judging by history and what more could a festival offer than give out a third of its performances for free? The theme is a summary of what is in store, a festival of colours!
A festival is about festivity and celebration and that requires the people.
It comes with large numbers of people coming together to witness events for a period of time.
No amount of sponsorship or decorated venues and stages can create a festive mood than the people themselves.
Bulawayo is absolutely a city of contradictions when it comes to the arts.
We are the city dubbed Zimbabwe’s cultural hub. We are the city of music, and dance and theatre legends.
We are the city from which Cont Mhlanga, Lovemore Majaivana, Oskido, Berita Khumalo, Dorothy Masuka, Siyaya, Insingizi. Black Umfolosi, Albert Nyathi, Iyasa, Umkhathi, Raisedon Baya, NoViolet, Khuxxman and Jeys Marabini, among others, hail. These are award-winning, world formidable and renowned individuals in various arts and entertainment genres and yet on the contrary we as the city are accused of being dead and void of an outgoing culture.
What a paradox! To add to the irony, the very same acts we shun are the very same acts celebrated in festivals like Hifa and are employed year in year out.
Spring time is here and with Intwasa festival upon us I challenge the City of Bulawayo to prove its worth and live up to its name and title as Zimbabwe’s arts capital.
It is an opportunity to break the hoodoo. Last year was a good starting point. I noticed amazing growth for the festival and Bulawayo needed to step up the heat.
We have heard about Hifa. Some of us have been to Hifa.
We have envied Hifa and I hope we have also learnt a lot from it.
While we should not be seen to be competing with Manuel Bagorro’s brainchild I think it is priceless to observe how everybody in Harare prides themselves with Hifa.
It’s the people. It’s the Press. It’s radio and television. Local businesses too.
If we all create the hype and commit ourselves to creating a festive mood for Intwasa then we surely can grow as a city. You don’t always have to give money to sponsor a festival.
Sometimes you just have to attend a show or put up a poster in your space or say something during your radio or TV programme let alone write something if you have the privilege. Money is not all there is to give to the success of an event.
The people of Bulawayo need to embrace and own the festival and start to recognise that they can either make or break the outcome of its success.
No sooner than we assume ownership of our festivals as the people, the public in general than we can awake the city from its deep slumber.
I openly invite and challenge families, couples, individuals and friends to take time out and go to watch at least one performance before the festival curtain draws to a close.
Its spring, we have shed off the old accusations, pessimism and doubts about our own. We have new belief in Bulawayo.
We need to build a new legacy for our city. A new beginning for our entertainment scene and a restored culture of going out to enjoy performances.
Time for artistes filling venues with just their close friends and families to watch their own work needs to be extinguished here forthwith.
How can the producer also be the consumer of his own work? Let us bury that culture now or forever live with the ghost of being labelled a dead city.