September is here and the annual arts extravaganza known as Intwasa Arts Festival koBulawayo is upon us. For a full week the city of Bulawayo shall reverberate with the sound of music, the stomping of feet and excited ululation and whistling as hundreds of artistes from different places and countries gather for the 11th edition of one of Zimbabwe’s top arts festivals.
Intwasa is a people’s festival as it was created by local cultural professionals, sons and daughters of the city, with a specific mandate to spearhead arts development while marketing Bulawayo as a cultural hub and a tourist destination. Over 500 artists, including schools students, are performing at this year’s edition of the festival.
Here are some reasons why Bulawayo should support the festival:
- More than fifty (50) events shall take place during the six day arts extravaganza.
- Hundreds of local artistes get to showcase their talents before a home audience.
- Over 50% of the events are free, giving access to the general public, especially poor residents who ordinarily cannot afford ticket prices for some of the acts when they are done outside the festival. Access to arts and culture has been proven to help promote social cohesion and improve standards of living for people.
- The festival is a platform to explore local and regional collaborations and cultural exchanges and networking with the aim of improving the status of artists.
- The festival has become a critical platform for the democratisation of arts and culture in Zimbabwe.
- Intwasa’s involvement with schools has invigorated arts activities in schools, particularly drama. The festival’s schools drama competition supported by Plan Zimbabwe has attracted over sixty schools and seen thousands of students participate.
- Apart from the High Schools Drama intwasa has now introduced choral and dance platform for both primary and secondary schools.
- The festival can create visibility and positive images of the city and its people.
- The festival temporarily provides employment to youths and artists.
Intwasa believes festivals are judged by their audiences and it is only when the city and its residents fully embraces the festival that it can take its rightful place among Zimbabwe and Africa’s top festival.