ABOUT two weeks have elapsed since the curtain went down at the annual Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA), but the prestigious arts fiesta is still the talk of the town. This year’s HIFA with the theme ‘The Engagement Party’ managed to capture the attention of thousands of people. The arts extravaganza achieved its aim of calling upon Zimbabweans to be seriously involved in the arts for the development of the industry in the country. It also afforded Zimbabweans, artistes in particular, the opportunity to interact and exchange ideas with fellow counterparts from beyond its borders. With its lavish displays, the 12th edition of HIFA inculcated a sense of unity between Zimbabwean artistes and those from foreign lands. All the artistes were encouraged to set aside their differences and focus on creativity. It became a festival where artistes concertrated on the preservation of one’s culture and celebrating African arts. Music contributed to the delightful and joyous environment at the fiesta. This year, popular dancehall artiste, Winky D, affectionately known as Big Man, put up a stunning performance, putting paid to the common belief that HIFA focused more on Jazz. Winky D is a conscious social advocate who also takes time to speak about everyday life in the ghetto. His music is reflective of human beings living in the ghetto and failed socio-economic systems that perpetuate social injustice. Besides Winky D, local artists including Prudence Katomeni, Victor Kunonga, Chiwoniso Maraire, Cindy Munyavi, Tendai and Selma Manatsa also had marvelous performances. Their songs portrayed and reflected Zimbabwean culture and they always influenced the audiences ecstatic mood. Chiwoniso managed to play a remarkable duet with the Netherlands group and an Afropean scent filled the atmosphere. Mbira DzeMutupo and HwevaMbira played their role in summoning the ancestral spirits and engage them in a traditional commemoration of the 2011 festival. The Bira celebrates traditional beliefs, rituals and ceremonies, transporting watchers, audiences and participants into a trance-like state opening them up to the blessings and protection of the ancestors. The Mbira group like other local artistes entertained their audiences with rhythmic discussions as well as musical reflections of various social artistries. Regardless of the critics, most people who attended the festival said HIFA 2011 provided testimony to the world that Zimbabwe is a safe tourist destination and remains a gifted country in the arts industry.