UNINSPIRING is the word that best describes the performances at the opening ceremony of the Intwasa Arts Festival on Wednesday evening as the line-up of artistes failed to enthuse the audience nor surpass previous opening ceremonies. One would have expected to watch mind blowing performances especially considering this year’s festival is celebrating its 10th anniversary under the theme “Unforgettable”. Indeed, the show was unforgettable as the groups which performed left a lot to be desired as their performances were sub-standard – judging from previous years.
Though the ceremony kicked off on a promising note with Vocal Ex lead singer Chelsea Mguni leading audiences in praise and worship, it lost its lustre a few minutes later when an ensemble of Bulawayo traditional dancers took to the stage. The dancers from Simunye Simunye, Imvimbi, Amahungo, Umdumo Wesizwe, Siyaya, Nobuntu and Sunduza sent the expecting crowd into a lull. It seemed the dancers were trying to tell a certain story with glimpses of love, gathering of talents and cultures being captured but it was not clear how the act was linked to the celebration of 10 years – let alone the festival’s theme.
As if that was not enough, poet Desire Moyo whose role was to deliver a poem on Intwasa’s 10th anniversary totally failed to recite the poem and instead chose to read it, often dropping some of the pages he was holding on the stage.
So bad were the performances that MC Babongile Sikhonjwa who was the director of ceremonies ended up stealing the show when he performed a version of Bhundu Boys hit Simbimbino which he translated into Ndebele.
Musician Ramsey Kays, tried to save the night with an energetic performance. Unfortunately for him, he took to the stage after crowds had been lulled by the Bulawayo artistes’ ensemble. Although he tried to invite the crowd to dance, most of them did not budge. This, however, did not kill his vibe as he performed renditions of Beater Mangete’s I come from Makokoba and Lovemore Majaivana’s Umoya Wami among others – something which excited the crowds. Most people ended up leaving their seats to join him.
Ramsey was later joined by Sandra Ndebele to perform Busi Ncube’s True Love.
The collaboration was magical, evidenced by the crowd’s response.
A flame thrower was also a hit on the opening night as he wowed audiences with his tricks. Another highlight of the night was Chase Skhuza who performed hit after hit, much to the delight of the crowd. He performed his hit track Banolila which evidently was also the crowd’s favourite.
Officially opening the event, veteran director and playwright Cont Mhlanga, who was invited on stage by the festival director Raisedon Baya, said the festival, which has come a long way since its inception, was a platform for people in Bulawayo to celebrate spring time.
Baya expressed gratitude towards the city of Bulawayo for continually supporting the festival.
“We have been putting a foundation for the festival ever since it was launched in 2005. I want to express my gratitude to all the sponsors who have been there for us and made this possible and let it be known that Intwasa is Bulawayo’s product and shall always be,” he said.
The opening ceremony was graced by the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs in Bulawayo Nomthandazo Moyo who was visibly enjoying the ceremony, especially Ramsey’s performance. She stood up and went to shake his hand on stage as he was performing, something which gave him the verve to continue with his performance.
Meanwhile, theatre lovers were left hanging yesterday after The Importance of Being Earnest, which was being performed at Bulawayo Theatre in the afternoon, was cut short due to the fact that it had started later than the scheduled time.
The Craft Fair at City Hall car park also kicked off on a low note with only four exhibitors displaying their products. Beads, giraffes, Nyaminyami walking sticks and heads, salad spoons, bead works and herbal products ranging from Moringa seeds, tea, powder, carrots, organic vegetables and dried onions were exhibited.
The Intwasa action continues today with the Bayethe Bulawayo Concert, one of the main performances, being held at the Large City Hall. Sulumani Chimbetu, Ndolwane Super Sounds, Albert Nyathi, Rute Mbangwa, Iyasa and Sandra Ndebele are billed to perform.