The Sunday News
Sandisiwe Gumbo, Sunday News Reporter
The Nyanga Arts Festival, which kicked off last weekend, drew to a close after a series of thrilling performances and exhibitions that showcased the best of Zimbabwean culture, music, and art.
The festival kicked off on Friday 27 October with act after act taking to Chief Saunyama’s homestead stage at the Maereka Primary School deep in the valley, where an audience estimated at over 1200 crowded the grounds to watch, dance and celebrate the rare explosion of entertainment provided for their pleasure.
One of the highlights of the festival was the performance by Black Umfolosi, a renowned music group from Bulawayo that introduced the traditional imbube music tradition to the audience.
“New to this part of the country were world-renowned artists Black Umfolosi who travelled nearly 1000 km from Bulawayo in the south-west of the country and introduced to the fascinated audience, for the first time ever, the magic voices of the Imbube music tradition,” read the statement released by the Nyanga Arts Festival.
“The Expressions Band challenged the crowd to wild dancing, with the school children leading the way and everyone else following.”
The morning of Saturday 28 October saw the first Nyanga Arts Festival Golf Tournament held on the rolling greens of the Claremont Golf Club, while visiting artists were treated to a sightseeing tour of the beauties of Nyanga. The Local Emerging Talent Showcase (LETS) held at the Montclair Scud Bar stage nicknamed ‘Musana Wenzou’ at the local shops.
The final show to cap the festival on the evening of Saturday 28 October was held at the Montclair Hotel and Casino, with revellers primed and ready for action with a diverse line-up of traditional and contemporary music styles, afro jazz and sungura which kept them on their feet through the night.
“Opening the show were among others, Equalizah, the lady Katso making her debut as a solo artist, Sarungano and The Storytellers. For the headline act, Sulu Chimbetu who rocked the house with a long set of the unstoppable dance-making sungura for which Sulu is so well known and loved, accompanied by his band the Orchestra Dendera Kings and untiring dancers and backing vocalists who kept the performance at high energy level, leaving everyone fully satisfied.”
The festival also featured a talent scouting session for local artists, providing an opportunity for up-and-coming musicians and artists to showcase their skills and gain exposure. The session was well-attended, and many aspiring artists were able to connect with industry professionals and get valuable feedback on their work.
“Dendera Kings talent scouts identified ‘Wisdom Wizy, The Nyanga Prince’ as an artist with great potential and offered him the opportunity to learn and be groomed to greater heights, as they had done for other upcoming artists, to set his feet on an upward journey in his music career.
“The Ward Development Coordinator identified Mayakayaka who was brought to their attention, auditioned by Nyangani FM and selected to perform in the festival programme.Dendera Kings scouts watched his performance at the LETS event and were introduced to him by the Ministry officials.”
In the statement, the organisers expressed gratitude for the event being made possible by the support of all the audiences, artists, partners, and sponsors who contributed to its success.
“The Festival is grateful for the safe carriage of artists from and back to Bulawayo and Harare, and around Nyanga by the award winning Murare Car Rental Company. Montclair Hotel and Casino was the Festival’s main partner, and General Manager Brian Nyakutombo. The Nyanga Arts Festival 2023 was truly a celebration of the arts, culture, and community,”
“For a moment I thought the 2nd edition would not happen due to limited sponsorship, but here we are. Wisdom Wizy and Equalizah bear testimony to why Nyanga Arts Festival is important and worth supporting. We count on old and new supporters for the 2024 edition,” said Josh Nyapimbi, the Creative Producer of Nyanga Arts Festival and Executive Director of Nhimbe Trust.