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Carmina Burana under the stars... hi-tech juggling from the States and Capella from the UK...Scandinavian and Chinese circus and flute recitals...Malian, Senagalese and Camaroonian maestros...South African rappers...African-American “steppers”....dance, song and art exhibitions... Surely this can’t be Zimbabwe?! Well, actually, it is. In ten days, Harare will pretty much grind to a halt as the Harare International Festival of Arts (HIFA) comes to town. Founded in 1999 by artistic director Manuel Bagorro, the festival has ravished Harare for 11 years. Each year there is a theme around which the performances are hinged and this years’ is aptly titled “About Face”. High profile performers from all over the world are hand-picked by Manuel who tours the international events looking for the best. Over 100 acts create a melting pot of modern and traditional, classical and contemporary, international and local. The festival is a highlight in the calendar. Carmina Burana (from Spain's La Fura dels Baus theatre company - responsible for the opening ceremony at the Barcelona Olympics) opens the festival on 27th April on the Global Stage in the gardens in the centre of town, under the African sky. Local theatres host other performances and there is a wide choice of free shows that everyone can enjoy. The tickets for the main acts go for no more than $15 making it pretty accessible. So popular is the festival that many tickets are sold out within a day of the box office opening. Local corporates, NGOs and diplomatic missions sponsor the event which is entirely non-profit. So...I’m off to fill my diary with opera, Hamlet (abridged and performed in Shona), a puppet show, The Hothouse Flowers and the Shanghai Circus, to name but a few. I’ll let you know how it went.