Zim’s major events calendar
There are dates that one cannot escape from. Just as non-Christians even those living in secular countries have to plan their year with Christmas in mind, there are dates that inadvertently and directly affect how the rest of the year is going to go. It goes just beyond the actual time factor as other considerations like budgets will have to come into effect.
The Christian weekend whose dates vary each year sees many people from various denominations gather in large numbers. While other church events throughout the year attract large groups, this is perhaps the time when almost all Christians make an effort to attend services thus it is arguably the time for wholesale sold out sermons across the board. The Apostolics have their own gatherings later and also seem to command large numbers.
The celebration of Independence Day which falls on 18 April is of great national importance and many people come together at that time. In rural areas it has become expected for politicians who are aspiring or incumbent office holders to throw a major feast for the populace where beasts are slaughtered and beverages flow.
In some places where no munificent individuals come forward each household is expected to make a contribution towards the communal party. The national celebrations are usually held in Harare where the President addresses the people who are also entertained by various shows including music and football. Musical galas with some of the most popular artistes of the time are also held in different parts of the country.
Unity Day which falls on December 22 and is a public holiday is also similarly factored into the yearly planning of most people.
Zimbabwe International Trade Fair held in Bulawayo each year is a meeting point for businesses from Zimbabwe and outside. But of course, the show goes beyond serious trade negotiations and delves into the realm of fun with entertainment galore. Just as the Harare Agricultural Show draws crowds with no interest whatsoever in agricultural activities beyond eating the produce, ZITF draws its own share of dedicated revellers who simply turn up to have fun.
Heroes and Defence Forces Days
The August long weekend in which the country pays homage to its fallen heroes and defence forces are another time for the nation to foster unity. People travel from all over the country to be present at the National Shrine during the presidential address. Others have since cultivated a more personalised commemoration of the holiday as they take advantage of the long break for extended family gatherings.
It is at this time that they have rites such as the traditional rituals of bringing back the spirits of the dead into the family fold (kurova guva) and the laying of tombstones.
The Harare International Festival of the Arts has become one of the major dates to note on the calendar of Zimbabwe. Ranked by CNN among the top seven festivals of Africa, the arts fest attracts visitors from beyond the borders and also gives a unique platform for Hararians who would otherwise never meet to enjoy local and international arts together.
Thousands turn up for the festival each day with the opening and closing shows usually being the biggest attractions. The HIFA fireworks have become almost legendary with even those who do not patronise the festival making a point of being positioned strategically to catch the colourful explosions. There are many other great arts festivals like Intwasa and Shoko but one must acknowledge that HIFA is just the biggest.
The schools rugby festival which is currently named the Dairibord Zimbabwe Rugby Festival. Before that it was sponsored by Cottco who branded the event accordingly. During the run of the festival which falls towards the opening of the second school term, almost all high school kids in Harare find their way to Prince Edward High School who are the traditional hosts of the festival.
The festival has grown beyond private and former group A schools to take in the schools from the lower income areas. A notable product of the festival is Tendai Mtawarira who is now based in South Africa.
The Zimbabwe Colour Run is a newish charity event that looks set to become big real soon. “The run is an untimed five kilometre race with no one winner but thousands of winners. It doesn’t matter if you are in a baby stroller or on a zimmer frame everyone is encouraged to join us for the event of a lifetime,” the publicity hype reads. So it has the treble attraction of jelling with encouraged modern lifestyle habits, being one for charity and also being for fun rather than fierce competition.
Charitable organisations that have previously benefited from proceeds of The Zimbabwe Colour Run are the Harare SPCA and The Emerald Hill Deaf Society. We tip this to grow into the largest fun activity on the calendar.
So far, the beer festival dubbed the Sunset October Beer Festival is already on advanced stage when it comes to the preparations. Interestingly, the festival just like last year it is likely to happen in the same month with the annual Lion Larger Summer Beer Festival.
Although no information is available for the Lion Larger Summer Beer Festival, yet the festival usually happens mid September. Organised by a consortium of promoters, the Sunset October Beer Festival runs for two days and is about drink and music and the usual accompanying stuff. There are many other events to look out for on the Zimbabwean Calendar depending on who you are and where you are.