So last weekend was one of the most anticipated shows in the Zim-uk calender, Zimfest 2017. To be honest I felt the zimfest standards had dropped the past few years. It just wasn’t attracting the crowds as it used to. They took a break I think for a year or two and they were back this year under new directors and boy ohh boy did they deliver.
It was my first time attending and I already knew it was going to be great. I had no doubts in my mind at all, it was probably because of the exciting line-up they had. They had 3 dance arenas with two dedicated to djs alone and the main arena for performing artists.
I did get there a little late and missed the first performances. But the people who watched the first acts had nothing but positive reviews especially for Celcius. I read from what others have said and one person said the Chiedza singer was exceptional and one to watch. I had no doubt about him, I know he is a fantastic vocalist and is capable of working the stage. I also missed Tytan’s performance but I managed to watch a clip of him performing mukoko and Shanky a UK based female artist did the Ammara Brown part so perfectly that you would think it was her who did the original vocals.
It was lovely to see some female artists performing. The organisers had got a bit of stick for the lack of women representing on the line-up. I was glad to see Shanky doing a few songs. She was at one point backed by the talented Heritage band and she did a few covers including Handiende by Oliver Mtukudzi as well as her own original compositions like Suduruka. Another talented female artist who killed it was Tsungai Tsikirai and the Tega-Tega band. It was refreshing having her as she brought some diversity and infused some Ndebele and represented the City of Kings well.
There was a lot happening at zimfest I could go on and on until tomorrow. All the performances were great. Evicted was amazing they brought with them some rock and roll and they rocked. And of course the headlining act Jah Prayzah himself. He came clad in his all too familiar army regalia and he delivered together with the Jah army also known as the 3rd Generation band. One thing I liked was his playlist. If you attend his shows you will know he usually starts slow and pick up the pace but this time he just came and belted all his hit songs. The most popular was probably Goto, when he performs it he always leaves people wondering if something takes over and possess him. Some say he gets into a super natural trance of course he says it’s art and nothing more. I have to say I was a bit disappointed he didn’t have time to meet with his fans. I would have loved it if he dedicated maybe 30mins after his set to just have kids meet him. We had many children who had travelled from far to come and see him and they all wanted just a handshake and picture with their music icon. Instead he was straight away escorted to his waiting car and whisked away leaving a lot of disappointed fans behind. Please Jah Prayzah next time try and make time for the fans who adore and support you.
I managed to get a few words from Jah Prayzah and he said he really enjoyed the show and hope he will come back again. He said everything was just good and he thanked the organisers for putting on such a show together. He also hopes this was the first of many festivals to come. Keen Mushapaidze his manager also echoed the same sentiments and said of all the shows they done this was a cut above the rest. I also managed to speak to some of the band members and they all said the same thing, they absolutely enjoyed it. It was something different from what they have done in the UK. One of the organisers I spoke to also said he was happy with the performances and hope to work with Jah Prayzah again in the future.
In as much as everything seemed perfect just a few things I noticed that could have been handled better. Obviously the meeting of fans by artists. The VIP area could have been managed better. None VIP people ended up pushing their way through to the VIP section. The bar that was meant for the VIP was under stuffed and that meant waiting longer to be served. I would have liked it more if they had a VIP bar alone and made sure one didn’t have to wait for more than 5 mins. And the stage I felt it was too far and it made it difficult for artists to connect with the audience. Because the stage was quite high i doubt people would have climbed on if they had brought it closer to the audience. Other than that it was good. I met someone who was impressed by the VIP treatment. She told me she got an escort car to escort her to the VIP parking entrance and that was a great move to have VIP cars escorted to avoid confusion and spending time looking for parking.
Ohh not forgetting the different businesses that had their merchandise displayed. I have been reading a lot of positive reviews from many stall owners. They thanked everyone for supporting them. All in all it was a great experience, great turnout and great atmosphere. It was just refreshing to see Zimbabweans having fun together and with no violence. I don’t know what they are going to do next year but it will have to be spectacular to pass this year because after setting the bar high, the only way is up.
To the zimfest organisers I say well done team. You worked hard and put a stellar event. Until next year zimfest is done.