Book lovers cheer as Litfest comes alive

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THIS year’s edition of the LitFest International Literature Festival returned last week week,
featuring 60 festival participants from Zimbabwe, Benin, Ghana, South Africa, the UK and
USA.
In a year the Zimbabwe International Book Fair was expected to light up the book sector and
fire the imagination of book lovers. In the end it appears it was long on what it promised but
delivered so little. It is for this reason that many looked forward to the Literature Festival,
which kicked off on Wednesday and ended at the weekend.
The great expectations were as a result of almost three years of Covid-19 restrictions that saw
the majority of interactions in virtual sphere with limited in-person attendance. It thus gave
people an opportunity to go out explore, interact and engage in literary discussions with
readers being afforded an opportunity to meet authors.
The festival ran in Harare from Wednesday to Saturday (23 to 26 November) and will be
followed by outreach workshops in Gweru and Bulawayo on November 28 and 30 November
respectively.
The LitFest festival featured panel discussion sessions, dialogues, and performances that
included poetry, theatre and music.
To encourage the development of the arts and culture sector, the festival also ran a workshop
for high school students and another one for creatives in Harare.
All the activities revolved around this year’s festival theme: “We are Joy– Celebrating the
ties that bind us”.
LitFest Festival director, poet Chirikure Chirikure, explained: “We will be hosting more than
60 festival participants drawn from Zimbabwe, Benin, Ghana, South Africa, the UK and
USA.
“These will contribute to the festival in varied ways, including being panellists in the
discussion sessions, giving keynote speeches, working as resource persons for the workshops,
as well as giving performances.
“The discussions and workshops will be run during the day, while the evenings will be for the
live theatre, poetry and musical performances. It will be a packed, but varied, stimulating and
entertaining programme.”
The festival highlights, included a keynote presentation by Professor Alison Phipps of
Glasgow University in Scotland. Professor Robert Muponde, the Zimbabwean writer, who is
based at Witwatersrand University, South Africa, responded to Professor Phipps’
presentation.
On the performances side, the line-up included productions by Afrikera, the Children’s
Performing Arts Workshop – Chipawo, Batsirai Chigama, Ignite Theatre of the UK, as well
as a live music performance by Diana “Mangwenya” Samkange and her mbira ensemble.

The festival closed at the weekend with another mbira concert that featured Okay Machisa
and Machena Music at Theatre in the Park.
The festival activities ran at several venues in Harare as discussions were held at B2C Nexus,
in the Batanai Gardens, along Jason Moyo Avenue, while the evening performances were at
Theatre in the Park, Harare Gardens.
The official opening was at Nhaka Gallery, former Delta Gallery, while the schools’
workshop was at the Harare City Library, and the Creatives workshop at Mbare Art Space in
Mbare.
The workshops for the outreach programme in Gweru and Bulawayo will have most of the
international visitors and some local artists functioning as resource persons.
The visitors will also share their works by way of reading and performing. Local participants
will share their work with the visitors. The Gweru and Bulawayo programmes will be run at
the American Corners, courtesy of the American Embassy.

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