Yet this small, peaceful market, tucked behind the National Gallery and away from the hustle and bustle of the Free and Main Stages, holds several hidden gems.
The festival's organisers have been as discerning in their choice of stall-holders as they were with the musicians and actors. Artists from Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland and South Africa have been given the chance to showcase their goods at the multitude of stalls, which come alive under multi-coloured lights after sunset.
Within the market the smell of roasting peanuts and nyimo beans, ground in the traditional way using flat stones to create preservative-free peanut butter, competes with the bitter aroma of the mobile coffee stand. A few steps further on, an enterprising team of young Zimbabwean men craft wind-chimes, cheeseboards, drinking glasses, place-mats, and jewellery from recycled glass bottles, paper and tin.
Zimbabwean arts and crafts are well represented, with Dangwe Arts, Nzou Arts, Harare Weya Artists’ Association and Binga Craft Centre, among others, having been given exhibition space and the opportunity to market themselves to a captive international audience. Artist Joshua Mudzimurema, who carves high-quality and unique wooden mealie-cobs, butternuts, bowls, animals and statues from the roots of the muriranyenje tree, is indicative of the best that the market has to offer.
Once one has perused the selection of stalls, the HIVOS poetry cafe offers the perfect place to rest weary legs and sate one’s hunger. The café offers plates of sadza and relish for US$2 – the cheapest at the festival – and the menu includes mainstream choices such as beef and chicken stew, as well as muriwo nedovi (vegetables and peanut butter) and madora (roasted mopani worms) for anyone feeling a little more adventurous. The centre as a whole is an experience not to be missed.Post published in: Arts