Inkululeko Yabatsha School of Arts (Iyasa) will be the toast of Beitbridge this weekend as the border town hosts a two-day arts festival.
The annual Beitbridge International Arts Festival (Bifa) that began last year has scaled down this year due to funding constraints, but it retained top-notch flavour with the inclusion of Iyasa on the menu. Iyasa, a product of Mpopoma High School in Bulawayo, have over the years carved themselves a niche as Zimbabwe’s cultural ambassadors in Europe.
The group regularly embarks on tours in Europe, with a base in Austria where they have perfected their art. Iyasa is currently on a break and the group is on demand at home.
This will make Beitbridge the place to be this weekend as Bifa would also host an interesting cast of Midlands State University (MSU) students who will stage various acts. Nkululeko Nkala, the festival’s director, said although funding had not been forthcoming, they decided to go ahead with the jamboree as a way of showing appreciation to the Beitbridge community.
“We could have cancelled, it was the easiest thing to do,” he posted on the Bifa Facebook page.
“But we won’t cancel. As a wise man once said, you cannot stop a charging bull by cutting its horns, we charge on.
“It has been hard to get funding to do a top-shelf festival. We have been running the festival from our pockets from registration, publicity, administration all in the hope that the world would smile at us and give our beautiful town the attention it needs.
“But no, not yet. Our time will come one day. We are going ahead with the festival starting Friday and finishing on Saturday.
“It’s obviously a downsized version of the festival, but we will come back strong next year.”
Nkala said five bands from MSU would perform when the festival opens today in a segment meant to promote the arts in the border town.
“The festival’s idea is to give university students an opportunity so that when they graduate they come to the industry,” Nkala said.
“We had planned to run workshops in theatre and dance for high schools and primary schools so that one day a school from Beitbridge may win the Jikinya dance festival.
“Beitbridge is rich in culture. We would have loved to showcase the dumba culture, but lack of funding has reduced the festival to just music and dance.”
He said on Saturday there would be a talent contest pitting Beitbridge artistes as a way of exposing them to bigger audiences.
Iyasa would sandwich performances by DJ Clemsa of Beitbridge and DJ JB from Bulawayo.
“This is our second year running under the theme ‘Unleash the Creativity’. Hopefully the gods will smile on us next year so that we do a festival fitting of Beitbridge,” Nkala said. Pagomba Cafe will host the festival.
Nkala was one of the brains behind this year’s edition of Intwasa KoBulawayo Arts festival that left an indelible mark in the 2014 arts calendar.