Zimfest 2010 Successful in difficult circumstances

Its been 10 years since the first Zimfest was held in London an event that has grown from attracting the attention of a few hundred Zimbabweans to literally grabbing the attention of thousands around the world. On September 3rd 2010 the event was held for the 10th consecutive year and although it was not delivered to the scale that the organisers intended it is record which few Zimbabwean events of this nature can boast


Very early in the year it had become clear that there were problems. Initially there were delays in announcing the venue, followed by similar delays in announcing ticket sales. It eventually surfaced that the organisers had been having difficulty securing an open air venue in London forcing them to eventually run a limited event including a Networking event dubbed Zimfest Connected and a concert Zimbabwe Rocks.

The team fought really hard to try to deliver the traditional outdoor Saturday event said Mike Tashaya one of the organisers of Zimfest. It was a tough decision to make Zimfest without braais, or born frees rambling around barefoot on a grass field, without the opportunity to bring the whole family along is not what we have all come to expect. An avid supporter and friend accused us of cancelling Christmas no one wants to be accused of that!

So what actually happened? According to the organisers the venue that had hosted the event for the past few years had become unsustainable due to escalating costs and amongst other issues. Eventually the decision was taken to move and after a long struggle to find a suitable venue it became clear that with the time constraints it would be impossible to deliver an event up to the standards people had become used to. The decision was taken to deliver a quality event next year rather than a rushed and inevitably mediocre one this year.

That left us with two events that we had never done before, limited time and a public that was not as enthusiastic as they usually are about Zimfest, where we would have liked to be! Said Tashaya said adding Our supporting events had become the main event; the brides-maids had become the bride

As it turned out the brides-maids while not replacing the bride were decent affairs; Zimfest Connected a networking event carrying the theme Connecting Zimbabwe to the world brought together and interesting collection of people at the Pacific Oriental restaurant in central London.

The event was opened by hosts WEZIMBABWE with Trustee Hilton Mendelsohn who emphasised that this event was meant to compliment the traditional event and to provide the opportunity for the community abroad could and should do more for Zimbabwe. Econet UK CEO Marco Signorini who spoke about the expansion of the Zimbabwean telecoms giant into the UK and the services they would be making available highlighting in the process the companys role in the community and with orphans in Zimbabwe. Other speakers included Cricketer Henry Olonga, Olympic Athlete Brian Dzingai, Zimbabwe based businessman Simon Kags and Dr Knox Chitiyo who covered the work of the Britain Zimbabwe Society in keeping Britain and Zimbabwe connected.

Zimfest Connected was later followed by a well attended Zimfest: Zimbabwe Rocks! The first ever dedicated concert showcasing contemporary Zimbabwean music as part of Zimfest. Headliner Tinashe who put on an accomplished display as did Zimfest stalwarts Mann Friday who had travelled from Cape Town, Chiwoniso, Jusa Dementor, Bkay and Kazz, Kamikaze Test Pilots, newcomers Cassetti and Mashasha and Sam who delighted with an afrobeat set that at some points sounded like a four or five peace band than a duo.

Despite the success of the 2 events those that attended still expressed disappointment that they could not have made a weekend of it with the outdoor Saturday. This was acknowledged by the organisers who promised pull out all the stops in ensuring that the outdoor leg is back on the agenda next year and that the event will continue to grow and provide a platform to showcase the best of Zimbabwe around the world.

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