ArtistEs from different parts of the country converged in Karoi for the inaugural Hurungwe Arts Festival that took place in the Mashonaland West town over the weekend. Poets, traditional dancers, theatre practitioners and musicians staged various acts in the two-day fete that brought exciting moments to the town.
The main events took place at Chikangwe Hall and the adjacent Baptist Church in Chikangwe Township.
On Friday, Chikangwe Hall was a hive of activity as traditional dance groups took turns to entertain the largely youthful crowd.
Dancehall musicians from the town thrilled fans at the venue in the evening when young and energetic chanters took turns to showcase their potential.
It was a serious sign that the dancehall wave was spreading fast across the country as more than 20 artistes from Karoi went on stage to showcase their skills in the genre.
Comedian Uncle Ritchie brought laughter to the venue with his rib-cracking jokes. The "Zviri Kumbofamba Sei" jibe creator was at his best as he dropped joke after joke, much to the delight of the audience.
Saturday began with workshops for artistes where the performers shared ideas on various issues that affect their field.
The workshops revolved around the topics "Arts Management: Professionalising the Arts" and "Using Arts for Communication Development".
The artistes from Bulawayo, Kadoma, Harare, Chitungwiza and Karoi expressed desire to see their industry grow professionally and implored promoters and arts managers to work towards bettering the sector.
Theatre performances brought colour to Saturday afternoon as groups from Kadoma, Harare and Bulawayo staged hilarious and insightful plays.
Kadoma's Berina Arts explored loopholes in service delivery in cities and towns through a play that mirrored various authorities and their weaknesses.
The play was centred on an average city family that suffers because of various social and economic challenges that are exacerbated by poor service delivery.
Bambelela Arts from Bulawayo presented the play "Civil Servant" that is based on a senior worker in the civil service who is faced with the stark reality of failure to achieve his life goals and fear of confronting the outside world on his impending retirement.
Savanna Trust from Harare presented the play "Paprika" that is based on domestic violence and the paradox of solving the marital evil against the socially anticipated roles of keeping family unions.
Poet Nqobile Malinga, who was also the master of ceremonies, kept the audience excited with his hilarious short acts.
Comedian Doc Vikela made a day for most comedy lovers as he presented an outstanding act that made comic references to celebrities such as Mai Chisamba, Alick Macheso, Suluman Chimbetu, Evermore Sandati and Oliver Mtukudzi.
Douglas Chimbetu put the icing on the cake with a superb performance that closed the festival on Saturday night.
Zvido Zvevanhu Arts Ensemble from Harare warmed the stage for Chimbetu with an exciting performance of various Zimbabwean traditional dances.
When Chimbetu came on stage the auditorium went wild as he unleashed dendera hits.
He played the late Simon Chimbetu's songs for the better part of the performance and borrowed a few tracks from his father Allan's discography before presenting his own tracks.
It was a night to remember and most residents concurred that the festival was a blessing for Karoi.
Karoi-based disc jockey Johannes "DJ Spragga" Chinaya said the festival was a welcome development for the community and the arts industry at large.
"Most people that attended the festival had a chance to witness good performances free of charge. Young people have come in numbers and they will definitely be inspired by these performances.
"Some of them are aspiring artistes and this was a platform to show them how it is done," he said.
"It was also good because it gave local artists a chance to present their acts on a big stage. We have many talented artistes in the town that need exposure and this festival is a good platform for them. "
Daniel Maposa of Savanna Trust said the festival was a positive development for the arts industry.
"It is good when we have festivals like this in small towns. We want the arts to develop in all parts of the industry and Hurungwe Arts Festival seeks to take the arts to small towns and remote parts of Mashonaland West. This inaugural edition was exciting and we encourage organisers to keep this spirit in their next editions," said Maposa.
Director of Bambelela Arts Witness Tavarwira said they had been waiting for such a festival for a long time.
"We have always needed such festivals and I feel it should have come a long time ago. It is a noble idea and the execution was perfect.
"We need such events throughout the country so that we take our arts industry to another level," said Tavarwira.
Festival co-ordinator Joel Zilala thanked the Karoi community, artistes and festival sponsors for their support.
"This was an overwhelming response.
"I did not anticipate the first edition to go this far. I am excited and I want to thank people from Karoi and artistes that did their best at this festival.
"I also want to thank Culture Fund (of Zimbabwe Trust) and other sponsors for making this festival a success. I am optimistic our future festivals will be bigger and better," he said.