Harare brings together a wide spectrum of varied and altogether amazing events that celebrate art, cultural history, urban culture and food. Host to the diverse communities from the lively high density areas of Mbare, Highfield, Mufakose, Mabvuku-Tafara, to the leafy northern suburbs of Borrowdale, Mount Pleasant and more, its cuisine and entertainment opportunities are equally varied, catering for visitors and locals alike.
The capital comes alive with revellers enjoying events on offer, taking a break from day-to-day stresses. Harare means “One who does not sleep,” and with so many events on offer the name seems apt. Here are my top five picks.
Imagine an open space scene, far from the hustle and bustle of the concrete jungle, providing an intimate Sunday chill-out event for adults and loads of fun things to do for the children. Well, The CookOut Zimbabwe will match your imaginations to the tee.
The CookOut Zimbabwe is a picnic style, family-friendly event that celebrates the Zimbabwean summer days with great food, good music and a beautiful vibe. The event was first held in October 2017 and has grown steadily over the months.
A place to go see and be seen, at Baraza Pavilion, 17 Kirkman Road in Tynwald, Harare, The CookOut Zimbabwe offers an ideal environment to wind down the weekend in great company with the soulful sounds of Bryan K and Vera in the air.
If you love vast azure summer skies in long golden summer days that end in breathtaking African sunsets, providing a backdrop for the live acoustic music stage and stretching in warm summer nights under starry skies, dancing without any inhibitions to music played by the finest DJs. If you love non-conforming dress styles that make a bold statement. If you love tantalising aromas wafting from food stalls and cooling (and intoxicating) beverages. Then you will love Unplugged.
Says one of the organisers of the event, Chiedza Danha, “Unplugged is Zimbabwe’s premier family-friendly ‘blankets and wine’ styled tri-annual music event. As its tagline Love.Live.Music suggests, it is designed to showcase the various genres of Afro-centric music, while encouraging local audiences to support and promote upcoming and undiscovered talent. As such, audiences are encouraged to drive down to the designated venue with a blanket or picnic chair, a bottle of wine, the company of friends and family to share in an upmarket music and lifestyle experience.”
With an open space set up, the festival, which started in 2013, has had the finest live bands wowing pleasure seekers and merrymakers during the day and the finest DJs taking over the turn tables once the sun goes down, allowing the party to go on.
Local artists who have performed at Unplugged include Takura, Simba Tagz, Jah Prayzah, Tehn Diamond, Winky D and Oliver Mutukudzi. Local DJs like IROQ, TK Beats and the amazing Reverb as well as South Africa’s DJ Zinhle and DJ Cleo have also spun their magic on the turntables.
Unplugged is spreading its wings with the organisers planning to take the event to Zambia in 2019.
Welcome to Number 3 Allan Wilson Street, Belgravia with a storied office space created by artfully and tastefully placing recycled ship containers diagonally on top of each other. There is also ample parking space, well manicured lawns and garden benches placed in the greenery. This is Moto Republik, Zimbabwe’s cutting edge creative hub for artists, innovative entrepreneurs, new media activists and citizen journalists.
This is the home of Hustlers’ Market; Harare’s monthly food and design market. Here, stalls of locally made fresh and funky urban clothing and accessories from designers like Chenesai Mangoma and Tanya Nefertari, carry popular African aesthetics like the vibrantly colored ankara clutch bags and neck pieces.
Scrumptious urban foods are also available at Hustlers Market like the popular burgers from the Burger Boys’ Food Truck. Not complete without music, Hustlers market also offers amazing beats that will see audiences grooving and jiving to the rhythm.
A free monthly event, Hustlers’ Market offers a child-friendly environment with clean and convenient ablution services. The venue is easily accessible by private or public transport, located a few minutes away from the CBD.
In June 2018, I attended Madhorofiya Socials at Moto Republik on Allan Wilson Avenue with my children, looking forward to a relaxed and pleasant Sunday afternoon. This was my second time attending the event and after having had such a wonderful experience, I knew I would be back. Despite us being early, a large group of eager people had already gathered at the venue, sitting in the foyer whilst some stood in small groups on the lawn, smoking, drinking, taking selfies and catching up.
Madhorofiya Socials is a quarterly event that seeks to provide offline space for people who consume Madhorofiya Republik content online. This content includes the Sadza in The Morning Podcast, a weekly podcast hosted by Mukedzi Majoni aka King Kandoro and his co-host Nicholas, tackling pertinent Zimbabwean social, economic and political issues and PaJecha Animation, a series on life in the ghetto featuring satirical skits portraying everyday life in Zimbabwe.
The event costs $5 and is held on the last Sunday of every quarter. It combines different elements including games, live performances and stand-up comedy. In June 2018, Madhorofiya Republik introduced a new element, Urban Grooves Karaoke, which proved popular to members of the audience nostalgic of the bygone era of the genre of Zimbabwean Urban Grooves.
If you love Stand Up comedy, karaoke and playing games in a family-friendly environment, Madhorofiya Socials is the way to go.
HARARE INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF ARTS (HIFA)
In the build up to this festival of all forms of art, Harare is gripped in a frenzy of excitement and anticipation. The Harare Gardens come alive again and the press corps jostles to get an opportunity to cover this premier event.
HIFA is a six day annual festival usually held around late April, exhibiting the crème de la crème of Zimbabwean and international arts and culture in a comprehensive programme encompassing music and dance, theatre, spoken word, visual arts, comedy and street performances. The festival brings together people from all over the world of differing social and cultural backgrounds, celebrating the curative and constructive power of the arts.
In theatre HIFA has showcased “In the Continuum” a play by Zimbabwean-American actress and playwright, Danai Gurira and Nikkole Salter, with HIV as the theme. Other plays include “Sorry Wrong Number” which took a prod at Zimbabwe’s service delivery system as well as Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
If you love classical music, HIFA will not disappoint you. My most memorable experience of this genre of music was during HIFA 2011 at the Dutch Reformed Church venue where Sonata in E Major was presented and the orchestra received a standing ovation.
Prominent artists who have performed at HIFA include the locals Oliver Mutukudzi, Winky D, Sulumani Chimbetu, Mokoomba, Hope Masike and Chiwoniso Maraire and international acts including Salif Keita, Lokua Kanza, Liz Ogumbo, Tcheka, D’banj, Lira and Bebe Cool.
There is so much to do at HIFA. So much to hear, see, eat and dance to in the various venues dotted around the city and a reliable HIFA transport system makes it convenient for audiences to hop from one event to another in time.