Halala Bulawayo Omuhle!
Bulawayo turns 127 years today (1 June) since it was declared a city in 1894 and the city’s arts industry has joined forces together with selected acts from outside Bulawayo in commemorating the day through arts and cultural diversity.
As June 1 was officially declared Bulawayo day, The Bulawayo Arts Festival (BAF) organisers decided to kickstart this year’s festivities today with different online and physical activities in celebrating the historic day.
The main goal of this year’s edition is to reclaim Bulawayo as Zimbabwe’s cultural hub, an initiative that attracted President Mnangagwa, who is expected to officiate at the festival which ends on 4 June.
Saimon Mambazo Phiri, who is the director of BAF said, there was an improvement this year as compared to their first edition as they had mastered the skill of engaging with online communities virtually.
The festival is expected to generate more views and live streams from all over the world.
“When Covid-19 hit us, no one knew how to make a festival. So, what you saw last year was our trial run at making a festival. I’m glad that we reached at least 45 countries in terms of viewership and that inspired us to say maybe we should we do more. We want to sell the brand Bulawayo because Bulawayo is a destination,” said Phiri.
He continued: “This is the only festival that is run under the auspices of a local authority. We are trying to create the model city. In this case we also want to prove, using numbers, that Bulawayo is the cultural capital.
“By going national, we want to show that we are a city that is embracing and we cannot survive without other cultural influences in the country.
“We managed to scout for talent in different cities in Zimbabwe so as to harness talent. We found a lot of raw talent and they shall be seen on this year’s line-up,” said Phiri.
For physical shows, Phiri said that Covid 19 protocols would be observed.
“Let us not forget that we are still operating within a COVID-19 environment that places a demand on us to take great care and caution in ensuring that our health is not compromised.
“For a limited number of showcases that have been programmed in venues that will strictly be accessed by a limited audience, Covid-19 protocols will be observed,” said Phiri.