Second Literature Festival beckons

The following article was originally published in The Herald

19 November 2015

Organisers of the International Literature Festival (LitFest Harare) are promising a good time at this year’s second edition of the two day event that starts next week Thursday with an array of activities lined up. It will run from November 26 to 28 and two writers Han Lynn (from Burma) and Elisabeth Beanca Horverson (from Norway) are taking part with local performers both veterans and upcoming taking part.

The festival activities will be run at the University of Zimbabwe, SAPES Trust, Theatre in the Park, the British Council and at Gallery Delta. Festival director, Chirikure Chirikure said the event will feature a package that is not only meant to celebrate literature but also consolidate the bridges between artists and the lovers of art while engaging the mind in a stimulating environment.

“The programme is designed to involve a range of participants, across age, gender and other social dimensions. It is also consciously designed with the broad spectrum of arts consumers and audiences that characterise the Zimbabwean social set-up. “This year will mark the first full-scale edition of the festival, after its inaugural run last year as a series of events.

“Activities will be run at selected venues in Harare. It will feature writers, critics, readers, performance poets, theatre artists, musicians and journalists drawn from Zimbabwe and abroad,” he said.

Chirikure said the broad range of sessions and activities will kick off with a key-note address by Barbara Mhangami Ruwende, a Zimbabwean writer and academic based in the USA, who also works as a practitioner in women’s health and safety.

“After this presentation, the programme will roll on, featuring such sessions as panel discussions, one-on-one interviews, poetry performances, a theatre production, a slide show, as well as book launches, quiz and live music and dance.”

Locally based participants will include writers and critics, Memory Chirere, Shimmer Chinodya, Dr Ibbo Mandaza, Pathisa Nyathi, Kizito Muchemwa and many more.

A stellar lineup has been set with music performances from Gary Tight, Jairos Chabvonga, Ticha Muzavazi and others. Poetry/spoken-word will be delivered by Cynthia Marangwanda, Linda Gabriel, Philani Nyoni, and some of the visiting writers with Radio personality, J-Boss (Jabulani Hove) leading a session discussing lyrical content with some musicians.

Chirikure added, “We realised the need for a platform to celebrate literature and to engage minds in a stimulating environment. “Zimbabwe has produced a lot of high-class literary materials that are recognised the world over. We need to applaud this and we need to help cultivate more works.”

LitFest went into partnership with Theatre in the Park, which will see the première and running of a play by the Norwegian writer, Elisabeth Beanca Horverson. The play, “Guinea Fowl” is based on the life of the late great Zimbabwean writer, Doris Lessing. It will feature a Norwegian and Zimbabwean cast and production crew. As part of its community development initiatives, LitFest will also run a workshop for high school students.

The workshop will focus on the craft of storytelling, hip-hop, poetry performance and social media.