The City of Kings set a glow last night with the premiere of Umkhathi Theatre Works' "Bloom Bloom", a musical dance production about rebirth, regeneration and blooming, signalling the rapturous dawn of the Intwasa Arts Festival.
Showcasing a marvellous matrix of the best cultural identities in Southern Africa, the Festival is characterised by a tantalizing buzz of creative and cultural performances.
Held under the theme "Realities and Experiences", this year's edition of the Festival offers a diverse programme that includes theatre, dance, music, spoken word, visual arts, literary arts and fashion.
Speaking to The Herald, Intwasa Festival director, Raisedon Baya affirmed that the essence of the Festival was about bringing people together and celebrating human diversity and creativity.
"'Intwasa' is a Ndebele word meaning 'spring' as the Festival is held during the season of spring.
"The naming is deliberate, as spring is about rebirth, regrowth, rejuvenation and renewal.
"Every edition is about ideas of rebirth and renewal; ideas that offer Festival audiences enough meaningful, exciting and unforgettable experiences to take them to the next edition," said Baya.
A sumptuous feast of entertainment rooted in the heart of Zimbabwe's most creative city, Intwasa is one of the longest running multidisciplinary arts festivals in Zimbabwe, with the Festival having become a critical highlight of Bulawayo's Cultural Calendar.
"Realities and Experiences" is an open theme, inviting artists to use past and present realities, private and public experiences, good and bad, as material for their numerous creative works.
Baya said since so much has happened in Zimbabwe and to Zimbabweans, it should be easy for the artists to creatively use their manifold experiences to showcase their artistic prowess, vindicating the notion that art is a mirror of society.
"The Zimbabwean story is not a single but a multiple narrative with curves, potholes, mountains and spaghetti roads.
"It is the diversity of these 'Realities and Experiences' that makes this year's edition of the Festival potentially explosive," said Baya.
Zimbabwe has travelled an arduous path over the years.
She has braved the liberation war and triumphed to see the beautiful years immediately after independence. She was haunted by Gukurahundi and tormented by Esap.
She was battered by Murambatsvina and suffocated by inflation; all these are experiences that will inform the creative pieces showcased at Intwasa.
"Intwasa this year is the space to share those stories.
"The Festival has asked artists to treat the events, experiences and realities of Zimbabwe as matter and material.
"Using their art, they remind us, ask difficult questions, laugh at us, laugh with us, scold, warn, sing and dance," Baya said
The shows include Savanna Trust's "Liberation", Nhimbe Trust's "Blood Tongue" and Jahunda Community Arts' "Gukurahundi".
There is also the festival flagship "Women, Wine and Words", Nobuntu and Black Umfolosi show, Edith WeUntonga, Vera Chisvo, Tariro NeGitare and Umcimbi Wabantu which the Festival is hosting in partnership with Skyzmetro Radio.
The festival is hosting 25 events in four days and will run until September 29, in Bulawayo.