The struggle against censorship for artists performing at Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) in May 2012 is nothing new. Since HIFA first opened its doors 13 years ago, Zimbabwe’s notorious Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) has been keeping a close eye on the event. Yet, despite government intimidation, Zimbabwe’s biggest cultural event continues to grow and offer artists increased local and international exposure.
Maia Von Lekow, a musician travelling from Kenya, explains in the article: “Being an African artist in a country which obviously has issues of censorship, you have to be very, very careful – there is a very fragile line as to how you put the words, so people can understand what you’re trying to say.”
A number of artists are warned that they may be pushing the boundaries too far. Zimbabwean poet and cultural activist Ghobori explains that his manager advised him to read only one chapter from his latest poem to avoid making the audience “uncomfortable”. UK musician, Oneness, says being a spoken word artist is particularly risky because “there’s no filtering of the process.”
Zimbabwean MC Outspoken also falls prey to backstage warnings, this time for swearing. He asks, “What’s the point of having a creative space if it’s going to be contained and confined?”
Read the article:
Think Africa Press – 10 May 2012:
Harare’s International Festival of the Arts: Pushing Boundaries
Zimbabwe’s artistic community navigate carefully around state censorship.