Business came to a halt in the city centre on Saturday afternoon as the Harare International Carnival “Street Party” stole attention from all activities on Harare’s streets.The carnival procession began at the Exhibition Park and invaded Robert Mugabe Road, Angwa Street and Nelson Mandela Street before gathering at Africa Unity Square for a celebratory event.
Different organisations were involved with different countries including Zambia, Malawi, Brazil and Zimbabwe taking part exhibiting different cultures.
Along Robert Mugabe Road thousands of people gathered to witness dancers from different countries going through their paces and most of the spectators joined the march to Africa Unity Square.
Children’s dance groups displayed different dances much to the delight of the audience.
Children from different schools including Danhiko participated in the dance fiesta.
Many other groups took turns to dance on the streets but Brazilian girls that were almost naked caught the attention of many people on the streets.
There was glitz and glamour as Brazilians, Ethiopians, South Africans, Namibians, Zambians and the Caribbeans from Trinidad & Tobago known for its steel-pan, limbo and the music styles of calypso, soca and chutney did their stuff.
Also not to be outdone were Zimbabwe’s own Nyau dancers aka Gule Wamkulu, who performed to wild applause from the crowd.
For once, Harare the capital retained its glow with several parties lined up including beverages that were sold in the streets.
Traffic came to a halt as revellers sang along and danced to the moving rhythms.
In total, 16 countries took to the streets, showcasing their talents in categories; international, traditional group and contemporary for the senior category.
Trinidad & Tobago were the crowd favourites and just like Brazil, Nigeria and other international acts, they had life.
They surprised the audience and played a local tune “Manhanga Kutapira” that locals sang along.
Strangers were brought together while singing, dancing and drinking in the spirit of the carnival.
“This is the best festival ever! It’s free and the order of the day is to have, nothing less. I can’t wait for next year. In fact, we should have the carnival every month!” said one Simbarashe Marowa, who was enjoying the spectacle with his family.
The turnout was evident that locals are buying into the idea of the carnival although they have a lot to learn in terms of participation in the sidelines.
In other carnival strongholds, the sight is a delight as participants and spectators wear brightly coloured attire while cheering on or waving flags.
In a speech read on her behalf, Vice-President Joice Mujuru encouraged locals to continue to support the carnival.
“Carnivals have become a powerhouse for economic development in Trinidad & Tobago, Brazil and Nigeria. It is on such basis that Zimbabwe is encouraged to develop the Harare International Carnival into a viable and sustained global economic industry supported by talent, expertise, skill and knowledge that is exclusively Zimbabwean.”
The event that took almost a day saw musicians Sulumani Chimbetu and Jah Prayzah among others providing entertainment.
The curtain came down in style at the end of the day with performers Diamond Musica from Democratic Republic of Congo, Madiz, BaShupi and a Zambian group.
This paved way for the Zim Dancehall gig that took place at Harare Gardens.
Along First Street Robert Zhuwao and the Red Fox team brought dancehall artistes and the response was overwhelming.
A carnival is a creative art form, aesthetic and dramatic spectacle as well as an entertainment presentation on a mass level usually celebrated annually in many countries across the globe.
A carnival usually involves a public celebration or parade, combining elements of circus, masques and a street party.
It is a great way to showcase a country’s cultural heritage; its people, food, drink, music and its everything.
The first ever Zimbabwe International Carnival held in Harare last year was an exceptional achievement.
Two famous such events are the Rio Carnival in Brazil, also known as “The Greatest Show on Earth’”, and the Trinidad Carnival, commonly referred to as “The Greatest Party on Earth”.
Both carnivals have grown into international spectacles, bringing in hundreds of thousands of tourists each year.
As their tag lines suggest each brings a unique experience to the offering.