The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Prisoners to Grace Hifa

Talented prisoners from Harare Central Prison and Chikurubi Maximum Prison will have an opportunity to showcase their musical prowess at this year's edition of Harare International Festival of the Arts. The festival will run from April 30 to May 5 under the theme "What's Next?" Hifa director Maria Wilson said incorporating prisoners as part of the entertainment line-up was part of the festival's social responsibility.

"We have seen prisoners performing in previous editions. The trend is continuing because some of the prisoners are so talented. Other prisoners we have worked with have gone on to release their albums after being released from prison," she said.

"Devine Touch", a 24-member acapella band is a group of inmates that has taken the entertainment circles by storm with their heart-rendering songs. The 10-track album, "Ishe Akatida", is receiving airplay.

"Usually inmates have problems being accepted by society after their release and by letting them perform outside, people will appreciate them as any other members of the society," she said.

"This year, we hope to make the event better. The corporate world's involvement makes this event a unique one in this part of the world.

"This year's event is going to be an incredible experience for Zimbabweans as well as people who will be coming from outside the country," she said.

Organisers of the festival say the arts showcase promises to be a great platform to market artistic talent in Zimbabwe as it continues to register growth in the number of entries this year.

Since its inception in 1999, the arts showcase has attracted many artistes from the local scene and beyond bringing big names drawn from the continent who include superstar Oliver Mtukudzi, Salif Keita and Ishmael Lo among others.

Last year, Hifa saw over 1 267 Zimbabwean artistes and 242 visiting artistes drawn from 30 nationalities across the globe.

One hundred and eighty-seven performances of 98 different shows were held, drawn from the festival's six days.

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