Challenges of organising a festival in Zimbabwe

Society & Culture | By Outspoken , Musician/Activist | 19 May 2013
PHOTO: © Baynham Goredema

I don’t know, now that we at this stage they've kind of all dissolved, but we will remember them I mean, yeah but I think the most important thing which was challenging at first for me was visualising it because it was also like trying to take something that you so used to, as in hip hop, spoken word and also these actual venues that I was also used to and reinventing them in a way and trying to see how it could come to be something that it's not regular to be like, if that makes any sense but yeah, I was like just envisioning how we could make the transformation, how we could make it interesting to us, to make it interesting to everyone else because if you are used to the same thing like a-ah possibly it’s just going to be like, just people going on stage and going off or whatever but it was more like no, lets cultivate a broader culture.

We needed to create that market just make something available for people and whoever is going to gravitate towards it, can gravitate towards it but just give them the opportunity to see that another point of view exists rather than what they are exposed to because sometimes it’s like mind busting trying explain to someone what hip hop is or where it comes from and stuff you like no, no, no, you talking about Black and Yellow - Whizz Khalifa and stuff you know? So, what they are exposed to is fighting what you trying to say to them so, rather just expose them to something else. If they accept it then yeah, it grows and moves on from there but if they don’t you know, but you just do your thing, just keep on doing what you are doing, regardless of how society is going to take it.

Comrade Fatso
And I think that’s the thing, the kind of  builds with this. I think that’s how it works. We formed a Magamba together in 2007 nearly four years ago and I think there has just been a gradual progression. We have been  involved in the spoken word movement and I was one of the co-founders of the first poetry slam here and then our reason for forming Magamba was also trying to take the spoken word and hip hop movement to another level and being able have a network to put on events, spoken word events and to run projects that were about using poetry, hip hop and urban culture for positive social change and we have been running Mashoko, Zimbawe’s leading spoken word and hip hop event for the  last nearly four years and that’s just grown it’s grown and we have produced you know, it’s helped to give a platform  to the kind of the new voices in Zimbabwe’s spoken word and hip hop but then we kinda like, yeah from that, we need to build  it into something else and that’s how the festival idea came and then the challenges around that are diverse okay, one is the vision because it carried on expanding, it was like okay we’ll have a Friday night festival and then it became Friday and Saturday night then someone threw the conference idea, so, we'll have a conference on, then a workshop then a Wednesday, then a Thursday then it became like a four day festival and we were kinda like okay, so, our inaugural festival was going to be a four day festival in four different venues  and of course there’s the various challenges I mean maybe like logistical and fund raising and immigrational, to put on a festival in this country, Zimbabwe is the hardest place, proven in the region to bring an artist into.

To put on a festival or to bring an artist  into the country we have to deal, we've  dealt with six different government agencies, so it's not just like you know, you can pick up the phone and call Hired Gun or call Akala and say guys, just jump on the next flight and rock up, you have to deal with National Arts Council, Censorship Board, Innovation, Police, who else is there that I've left out, the City Council might jump on board, I don’t know why, who else we have to deal with? There are so many, we have even forgotten but there are a lot of kind of logistical challenges that do come up but I think ultimately you know, hopefully we've did enough planning for you know for this week to flow smoothly enough.