Last night was a pretty ordinary night for HIFA. While we understand the operational challenges they’re experiencing, waiting 40 minutes for the opening show to begin wasn’t fun.
The show itself was worth it, and knowing how finances are, my wife and I even appreciated the tiny fireworks display.
Unlike *each* previous Harare International Festival of the Arts, we couldn’t hang around the Green too long, so around ten we bought our takeaway curries and bade farewell to our mates.
That’s when the nightmare began.
We walked all the way to the Global Quarter only to be told it was closed, including the exit gate, because there wasn’t enough security to guard the Craft Market wares.
Fine. Walk back around the toilets and use that gate? That’s alright. We understand.
Now, we always park in the same place. Park Lane, NSSA side, right by the park gate, which also leads to HIFA’s Global Quarter gate.
When we’d arrived earlier around half past six, we were pleased to see the car guards wearing red HIFA jumpers. Security, we thought. Awesome. They were friendly, too.
As we were walking out, I carrying the two takeaway containers, She carrying the car keys, we saw three of these security guys sitting just outside the park gate, on the curb.
As we walked across the road to the car, one of them yelled out asking for a tip. I told him I’d run out of cash inside the festival; he yelled out for just coins, and I said I had none.
By this time we were almost by the car, and this guy got up and aggressively chased me down. They may have given us jobs but you want us to turn into street kid mode, he screamed at me.
He came to my car door yelling, and as I got into the passenger seat, he slammed the car door after me, barely missing my left foot.
At this point, my wife was at the driver’s side with her purse out, telling him that wasn’t necessary because she was about to give him money (her last US$2 note, turns out) but now she won’t.
So he walked around the car and charged at her, swearing about her purse and she quickly jumped into the driver’s seat and locked the door.
By this time the other two had also crossed the road to our car, I assumed to restrain their colleague.
They also started yelling and swearing. By this time my wife had started the car, and Guy One was now banging on the drivers side window, swearing at us and shouting.
As she switched on the lights, he then attempted to open her door, which she’d thankfuly locked, and I told her to drive off. We lifted off in a rush, turned left into Selous, and left up Second Street.
Now, I have never been harassed by car guards on that street before (every previous HIFA, that’s where we’ve parked).
I’ve even let my wife walk out that gate and drive off alone, because we’ve always felt safe and secure at HIFA.
We’ll now be parking elsewhere, and I’d advise anyone else going to HIFA 2017 to use well lit parking and avoid that Park Lane gate.
It was dark and there were three of them against myself and my very petite wife, so anything could have happened.
To the HIFA management and event security staff, I hope you do something about this. It’s unacceptable. We have supported this festival for years and have never encountered such problems.
Maybe posting a real security man by that NSSA Park Lane gate to keep an eye on the street kids you hired and decked out in your branded jumpers? I don’t know. Not my circus, not my monkeys.
If we didn’t already have a full envelope of tickets for the rest of the festival, I’m not sure I’d return. But I will.
Let me bet on the response: “We urge patrons to use parking indicated on the map of the festival venue indicated in our programme.”
I wouldn’t rule out intoxication, but that would just be another reason to be pissed.
Update – I tweeted this when we got home last night. It confirms the time, so I’ve amended the story above from “around eleven” to “around ten”.
— Joe Black ?? (@joeblackzw) May 2, 2017
Update 2 – I communicated with Tafadzwa Simba of HIFA, and eventually got this response on the action taken.
I checked yesterday and the matter had been looked at and the police were informed. Two individuals were dismissed. The whole system has since been made aware of this and is on the look-out for any errant behaviour.