When I realized where Tuku was playing at HIFA, it was already too late. The venue only fitted about two hundred people and, instead of Friday’s show where he played with The Black Spirits, Sunday’s show at HIFA was The Oliver Mtukudzi Quartet; Tuku, a djembe player and two girls as backing vocals. Still, we were very, very lucky. When returning from another show, we bumped into Andre, the guy who runs Nyati travel. We started talking because we noticed we both spoke Dutch and although Henk (another Dutchie staying at the lodge whose son is buying and selling sculptures) knows him and talked to me about him, we hadn’t met him yet. Andre was so kind as to donate one of his complementary tickets for the Tuku show to us (Nyati travel sponsored HIFA this year) so we ran of to see the show.
After a bit of a struggle, we both were allowed in, only to experience the last song of Tuku’s show. We should have gotten tickets for this one.
The evening before, we had seen Ishmael Lo on the main stage of the festival. This West African artist was nice, but not spectacular. It only got interesting when Tuku performed a couple of songs with the man.
Earlier on the Saturday, we had seen Once Vaudeville, by Lone Wolf Tribe, the American performer Kevin Augustine. The show was very good and way to short. As the son of a great ventriloquist, the main character tries a show with his father’s now senile puppet that is larger than life. The show is an allegory of an artist’s and an era’s decline. The show was very well performed and very touching.
Later, we witnessed Andrew Buckland and his one-man-show Feedback. Buckland is an amazing performer but the story wasn’t as good as Buckland himself. The show charted the encounter between D’Earth Foodstuffs Multinational and Mother Myrth, where Mother Myrth is killed and the murder investigated by Brother Myrth and detective Deadly Serious. Buckland’s gargantuan performance was highlighted by him performing all (5 or so) characters, as well as personifying foodstuffs.
On the Sunday, our first show should have been African Macbeth. However, Pete had seen the show on Friday and thought it absolutely terrible so we opted for a long sleep instead. Enjoyable, since both on Saturday and Sunday, we had been woken early by a big group of 18-year-old girls who started chatting, giggling, screaming and moaning, both mornings, at 7am. Terrible, really.
So our first show was Mbirations, the trio of Werner Puntigam, Adam Chisvo and Klaus Hollinetz. Using an mbira and a sliding trumpet (‘schuiftrompet’ in Dutch) as centerpieces, they did a live performance of industrial experimental music. Very nice. I was annoyed I didn’t bring my minidisk recorder.
The second show was Unveiling, a play by Vaclav Havel performed by three reasonably well-known Zimbabwean actors. The acting was slightly above mediocrity, but what was very surprising were the political undertones of the play. Originally, the play is about a couple who after joining the communist party, receive many perks and are now trying to convince one of their friends to turn his back on the opposition and join the party too. Effortlessly, the premise applies nicely to the current situation in Zimbabwe and the play made it very clear that the couple was now ZANU-PF. Just for being so daring, the three deserved a standing ovation.
On Saturday evening, the after party was big. A local band performed African beats to a roaring, but black, crowd. On the Sunday, Bann’d For Life played their last gig and the audience was a small and almost exclusively white crowd. Lots of fun however, although Gus, the lead singer, didn’t agree on performing Radar Love this time.