Zimbabwe promises ‘mother of all carnivals’ in Harare


524

With more than 100 local acts set to take part and 30 overseas countries “showing interest”, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) is confident that this year’s Harare International Carnival will be the biggest and best so far.

ZTA head of marketing Sugar Chagonda boasted that the Harare event will be “the mother of all carnivals”. The organisers aim to attract three million people into the city over the carnival period. Events begin on Friday 1 September and run through to Sunday 10 September.

This year the carnival has attracted a title sponsor, Big Time Strategic Group, which will be bringing South African artistes to perform on the main stage in Harare. Other countries that have apparently confirmed their attendance are Brazil – promising more of their scantily clad samba dancers, who attract a near-fanatical following in Zimbabwe – Cuba, DR Congo, India, Mozambique, Nigeria, Seychelles, Zambia and Trinidad & Tobago.

The carnival parade itself will follow a new route, starting in Simon Muzenda Street (formerly Fourth Street), passing down a cleaned-up Robert Mugabe Street and ending in the square adjacent to Rainbow Towers Hotel. The main stage has been moved from Africa Unity Square to the larger Robert Mugabe Square.

Visitors to previous editions seem to have been impressed by the friendly atmosphere, although the size of the crowds may make it difficult to get a good view of the parade.

ZTA has pledged to block one view completely. South African entertainer Zodwa Wabantu – aka “the pantyless provocateur” has been told that she will not be allowed to perform at Carnival without her underwear! ZTA CEO Karikoga Kaseke was quoted in New Zimbabwe as saying: “If she cannot perform in panties then we don’t want her. It will be taboo and the chiefs will not like it; but maybe at the Private Club, those who want to see her without panties can go to the club.”

Kaseke also revealed that 20 Cuban dancers would be taking Harare by storm. “They are participating in our carnival for the first time this year. They are very, very dangerous, these Cubans. They are far more dangerous than the Brazilians,” he joked.

Not all Zimbabweans are keen on the country’s sudden enthusiasm for mas and bacchanal in the streets. Some commentators on NewsDay’s website railed against decadence creeping into society “under the guise of street carnivals”, while another likened the carnival to Sodom and Gomorrah.