Shoko Festival Roars Into Life

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By Staff Reporter

SHOKO Festival, the country’s biggest urban culture jubilee, roared into life yesterday under the theme: Shoko Universe.

It’s running virtually. Bulawayo’s biggest arts and culture fiesta Intwasa kicks off today as the city also hosts the 2021 edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair.

THE showbiz arena will be alive this week as the country’s top two festivals Shoko and Intwasa Arts Festival KoBulawayo are underway in Harare and Bulawayo respectively, until Saturday.

This is a first for Bulawayo to host such big events simultaneously as arts meet business.

Intwasa, that will be held both physically and virtually, will kick off with the Monetising the Arts Through Social Media workshop at the National Art Gallery in Bulawayo and the Filmmaking Masterclass (physical events).

The official opening show will be in the evening (1800hrs) at the Bulawayo Theatre featuring an array of artistes, among them Bulawayo songstress Mimmie Tarukwana, Thandy Dhlana, dancehall singer Tocky Vibes, rapper Tashamiswa, Voltz JT, Jungle Locco, Gze and Lady Bee, among others.

Intwasa Festival spokesperson Nkululeko Nkala promised an educative fiesta.

“We are ready for this year’s edition amid COVID-19, we will have our hybrid, this is the new normal and we have to embrace the changing times,” he said.

Shoko Festival director Farai “Comrade Fatso” Munroe said the festival would be a celebration of diversity.

“Covid-19 and lockdowns have challenged us to be more creative as festival organisers.

“As an answer to the times we are living in, this year, we invite the audience to be part of the virtual Shoko Universe,” he said.

“It is key that we continue to find ways to creatively host events so that we can support our artists and inspire our audience with crazy new sets and powerful art. We will take our audience through the journey of our collective imaginations in gritty urban culture, explosive music, crazy sets and never-seen-before collaborations.”

Comrade Fatso said they had partnered with the Netherlands Embassy in Harare to present a cutting-edge spoken word programme.

“This year’s edition is set to present a unique Holland — Zimbabwe collaboration for its spoken word programme as well as an innovative spoken word journey. The Lost — Spoken Word Journey is set for Tuesday (today),” he said.

“In a never-seen before creative collaboration between leading Dutch spoken word artist Smita James and top Zimbabwean poet Shaldo who will collaborate on combined themes that will explore a world of violence against women, climate breakdown and rising authoritarianism as they speak hope and social justice.”

He said the performance would  lead to a presentation of Lost — A Spoken Word Journey, which will feature several leading local poets among them Thando, Yanta Limie, Munyaradzi Bopoto, Kuda Rice and Banshee performing about the current Zimbabwean political and economic situation — presented in an extremely creative manner. Over the years, Shoko Festival has become a platform for hundreds of young rappers, comedians, musicians and spoken word artists to perform, collaborate and express themselves through their various artistic talents.

The festival also curates cutting-edge collaborations between local and international acts and arranges international tours for young local artists.

Tribal house trio-Djembe Monks, who will perform at both festivals, as has become tradition, said fans should expect a sizzling, energetic and spiritual performance.

At Shoko Festival, Djembe Monks will perform at the Mash-Up Night and then perform on Intwasa’s closing show on Saturday at 2000hrs with the performance being livestreamed on the Intwasa Arts Festival YouTube and Facebook channels.

“Bass jerking, over the edge, mind-altering vocalism, and elevating vibrations are what we are promising people at both festivals,” Emmanuel Roots Nkomo of Djembe Monks.

“The fact that we will be at both festivals is good. It is an amazing time to be alive right now.”

One of the festival’s highlights is The Africa Satire Convention set for Thursday that brings together satirists from across the continent, among them Ugandan poet and human rights activist Stella Nyanzi who said she was excited to share her experiences on writing political satire about Uganda’s dictatorship.