By Tidi Kwidini
POPULAR southern African music festival Zimfest Live, recently returned to Kempton Park Racecourse where thousands enthusiasts turned up to celebrate the annual summer gathering.
Despite the gloomy weather, the crowd embraced the all-day outdoor family event that showcases the very best of Zimbabwe through its music, African cuisine, and a diverse selection of contemporary and traditional arts, crafts, clothing, and jewellery.
A representative from Redcliff Management (RM), the organisers, said they were extremely delighted and humbled by the thousands of people who travelled from all over the UK to celebrate the best of Southern Africa.
“You can spend a whole year planning an event to the last detail but what makes it a huge success is the people, said RM.
“The families that take time out of their busy schedules to come and mix, mingle and create an atmosphere that cannot be replicated anywhere else.
“We are also grateful to all our sponsors for partnering with us and their commitment to ensuring that, together, we delivered an exceptional festival.
“As always, we’ll absolutely take into consideration all the constructive feedback we’ve received so far, to bring everyone a bigger and better ZimFest Live 2019.”
This year’s event featured three top-tier international acts, all with different sounds and vibes that catered to the multitude.
Dendera star, Sulumani Chimbetu, proved why he is an international attraction, performing with his illustrious band, the Orchestra Dendera Kings.
With a performance worthy of a seasoned musician, Sulu delivered an exceptional set which topped his last UK appearance earlier in the year.
Singer-songwriter Takura took us through a whirlwind of emotions with some personal accounts of his life, including a track he wrote for his daughter called Dananai – performing it with her in his arms.
Local gospel ensemble Friend’s in Christ set the tone early in the day and performed tracks from their latest album Genesis, with Sharon Manatsa leading from the front and husband Zex Taku Manatsa on the drums.
Pop musician, Kazz aka Mr Boomslang, delivered a memorable performance, serenading the crowd with his rendition of timeless classics from artists such as Bob Marley.
Sungura Magic, who blend traditional Zimbabwean musical genres such as Sungura, Jit and Chimurenga, also gave the audience a taste of home.
Killer T gave the penultimate performance, singing some of his well-known tracks that included Bvunza Tinzwe.
The audience also sang along to his single, Hondo from his latest album Mashoko Anopfuura which has fared well on the market so far.
Zee Guveya and the Heritage Survival band returned for a second year and reminded us why we fell in love with them in 2017, closing the show and leaving the crowd in high spirits.
Zimfest’s three dance arenas were once again buzzing with standout sets and featured veteran DJ’s Sox, Standish, Mixolis, Nero, and Field, to name a few.
Newcomer, TeeChokks also impressed on the main stage proving why she’s the next big female DJ to emerge in the past year.
Hosted by comedian Xavier and King Alfred, Zimfest Live was this year sponsored by money Remittance Company Cassava Remit, Zympay, Senditoo, Diaspora Funeral Cashplan, Sahwira International Plan, Nyaradzo Group and Propertyend.
Speaking about the event, headline sponsor and CEO of Cassava Remit, Haxton Rose, said he was grateful to the organisers for putting together a great festival.
“As a proud Zimbabwean company, and headline sponsor for the Zimfest 2018 edition, we take pride and pleasure in working with the local community, enabling local promoters such as the Zimfest Live team and other organisers to put on such shows,” he said.
Rose said the company also took pride in empowering brands such as Zimfest to work with Zimbabwe-based artists which, in turn, provided an opportunity for them to showcase their talent to broader audiences in the UK.
“It was a pleasure seeing so many Zimbabweans from all walks of life coming together to celebrate being Zimbabwean, showcasing and sharing our rich culture and music with the rest of world, and we are already looking forward to Zimfest 2019,” he added.
Starting out in 2001, in a field behind Wandsworth Prison in south-west London, Zimfest has over the years grown to become a major fixture on the London calendar and a key summer celebration for Zimbabweans living in the UK.