The decision by Delta Beverages to engage organisers of the annual Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) at this year's Lion Lager Summer Festival in Harare next month might have been catapulted by last year's loss of US$60,000 in appearance fees by the no-show of highly anticipated Jamaican reggae artist, Beres Hammond.
This year's event, the fourth in the series, will be held on October 13, 2012 at Glamis Arena, in Harare and features the high-flying international Afro RnB duo, P-Square, originally from Nigeria. The group is expected to come to Harare with an eight-member crew that is expected to play live instruments as will all the local supporting artists.
Delta's partnership with HIFA was confirmed on Tuesday at a media briefing at the company's Southerton plant where it was revealed this year's festival would be supported by a host of local artists, among them, Alexio Kawara, Amara Brown, Ba Shupi, Prudence Katomeni-Mbofana, Chiwoniso Maraire, Winky-D, Mic-Inity, Roki, Nox and local DJs Rax and Banks.
There was no mention of the amount of sponsorship of the event that the company is putting in but it is reliably understood that Delta has coughed up thousands to bring into Zimbabwe one of Africa's top groups as well as to pay the local artists.
The Lion Lager Summer Festival will be mostly comprised of Zimbabwean artists, who are amongst the best in the country, along with some international guests; this is very much HIFA's structure thus priming HIFA to be best capable of running the high-calibre event.
Chiwoniso Maraire summed up the general feeling in saying "Everyone here at this table is either a friend or family to me". This team spirit also saw participating artists promising collaborations in various forms with Ammara Brown revealing that she will be collaborating with Winky D at the festival.
Confirming their company's choice of using HIFA, Delta's marketing manager, Patricia Murambinda said the organisation had shown a high level of professionalism during the annual festivals where Delta has been a major sponsor for many years.
Murambinda took the opportunity to note that this year the Lion Lager Summer Festival was dealing with a calibre of artist which required an extremely high level of organisational and presentation. Therefore, HIFA was engaged to run the event which is promising to attain world-class standards not only because HIFA and Delta have had a relationship for 14 years but rather the know-how and capability.
"The level that we are pitching this year is high. P-Square is hot news (all over the world), a lot has been put up for bringing such artists to Zimbabwe and HIFA has demonstrated they handle such big artists at inter
national level," said Murambinda.
Last year, Delta sought the services of a local promoter, Nhamo Chitimbe of Shumba Instrumentation, was hired by the beverage company to sign up the musician because of his acquaintances with Jamaican artistes. Although Hammond was paid up front, he did not show up.
"Normally as Delta we do not engage the artistes that perform at our functions because we don't have the expertise so we hire promoters who are the experts in the field. Just like what we do with Chibuku Neshamwari and Road to Fame, the National Arts Council deals with the music groups and not us," Murambinda told the media at the time.
HIFA's executive director, Maria Wilson told the media her organisation was delighted to work with Delta Beverages in bringing international artists of P-Square's calibre into Zimbabwe. She said she was also delighted to see local artists sharing the stage with artists from other parts of the world and added this would propel them to get to a higher level.
On its part, HIFA has stood out to be one of the Zimbabwe's premier arts event during the first quarter each year since 1999. Over the years, the week-long arts event has brought in a number of international artists to Harare, among them Angelique Kidjo, Ismail Lo, Salif Keita and some well known artists and groups in the five principal disciplines of theatre, music, dance, fine art, and poetry.
Currently on a world tour, the P-Square duo is composed of identical twin brothers Peter and Paul Okoye.
They produce and release their albums through Square Records. In December 2011, they were also signed to Akon's Konvict Muzik label. In May 2012, they also signed a record distribution deal with Universal Music South Africa. They have also recorded and performed with many international artists, among them RnB singer Ricky Ross. In Zimbabwe they are currently riding high with their hit singles, She wants to Chop my Money and Beautiful Onyinye.