ME!FEST Culture Expo returns this month

The Expo, to consist of two distinct segments, will focus on reshaping and empowering communities.

THE Mbare Edutainment Festival (ME!FEST) Culture Expo is making a return this month at Mai Musodzi Hall in Mbare, Harare, from April 24 to 26, after being halted because of financial challenges and the COVID-19 crisis.

The Expo, to consist of two distinct segments, will focus on reshaping and empowering communities.

The three-day event will showcase the talent of both established and emerging culture of folk music and dance, as well as provide a glimpse of poetry and theatre.

A second part of the festival will introduce in August this year a pilot Contemporary Dance Festival.

The festival's custodians and main stakeholders, including the Simba Arts Trust, National Arts Council of Zimbabwe, City of Harare, Culture Fund Zimbabwe and other local authorities will be involved in organising the event which will also include a host of educational workshops, with a strong emphasis on developing skills and promoting business within the arts.

Several guests including Safety in Us Trust founder Lucia Mutsvedu, founders of Chitungwiza Poetry and Art Convergence Vongai Hillary Masuka and Godwin Makoho, Tsoro Arts director and founder Jacob Mafulemi, Studio five-seven founder Trevor Mushonga, among others, are expected to grace the event.

In a statement, festival founder Tendai Fulukia said hopes were high for growth this year, citing support from the country's culture fund as a contributory factor.

"We are excited to announce that this year's event is expected to be a great success, with a large number of attendees already confirmed including Harare High, George Stark, Old Windsor Primary, Mbare High, Gwinyai Primary, Aunt Prim Learning Centre, Chirodzo Primary, Sentinel Academy, St Peters High, Nharira Primary, Shingirirai and Chitsere," Fulukia said.

"The decision to establish the festival was made due to the fact that many performances were taking place in unsuitable locations like bars and nightclubs. At these venues, children and teenagers were obligated to put on a show, yet the majority of opportunities went to established groups or artists, prompting us to establish a space for all aspiring performers to develop their skills," said the festival founder.

Previous editions of the festival have seen an impressive turnout of arts groups, bands and artists who have wowed the audience with their stunning choreography in a range of artistic works, dances and aerobic displays.

Event co-ordinator Leonard Mateyu said the inclusion of Harare High School students in past festivals acted as a catalyst for other schools to the join community festivals.

"The school featured displays of poetry and fine art. We have extended our invitations to various schools and young people with the aim of nurturing their understanding of our culture." he said.

ME!FEST has received generous sponsorship from Creative Actions 2 Grant sponsored by Europen Union through the Culture Fund of Zimbabwe and is also getting support from the local stakeholder community which include Zimbabwe Gender Commission, National Aids Council, ZBC National Radio station, Zimbabwe Council of Copyrights, Community Arts Council of Mbare also known as Mbare Arts Council, among others.

The colloquial name for ME!FEST is "Me!First," a call to action in promoting a secure space and suitable stage for the youth's humanity, acceptance, diversity and democracy to achieve the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals in Mbare and other high-density suburbs around Harare and the country as a whole.

ME!FEST aims to provide a platform for artists of all ages and backgrounds to showcase their talents, promote cultural exchanges and the development of the arts in the community. It seeks to empower young people and create opportunities for them to realise their artistic potential.


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