This last week in Harare the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) has been in full swing. K and I have been extremely fortunate to be able to attend the opening evening show as well as hang out during the day on Saturday listening to some great local musicians, eat great food, and check out some really beautiful crafts. (We all know I’m a sucker for a good craft market)
Its been a really great time to experience the culture and art of Zimbabwe in a way that we don’t normally see in the rural locations that we work in. I have found myself falling in love with Zimbabwe and it’s people. Zimbabwe is just coming back from economic collapse and many are still struggling to support their families. I often see the hardships and struggles in people’s lives here. And let me just say that I feel its important not to be naive to those hardships and struggles. That’s why K and I are working with Medair. It’s why we are in Zimbabwe. We aren’t blind to the struggle for basic needs in Africa and around the world. We are passionate about bridging the gap between those who have and those who do not.
However, just because there is a large gap does not mean that there are not things to be joyful about or that life here isn’t at all beautiful. This week at HIFA I was reminded that there are a billion reasons to be believe in Africa. “A billion reasons to believe in Africa” is actually the slogan of Coke a Cola in Africa. The slogan was on signs and posters everywhere on the grounds of the festival. I read it over and over through out our time at the festival, and something really clicked within me. This slogan really resounded within me as I watched the dancing groups, and listened to musical groups. I”ve always had a place in my heart for Africa, even before I first visited. I remember standing on the beach in southern Spain, looking across the water and knowing that I was looking in the direction of Africa. I was only 18 years old but some how then I knew I would visit and maybe even live there.
The video above is a song that was done for the Coke a Cola ad campaign in Africa. Yes, the video is trying to sell Coke, but honestly it really shows the unity and pride Africans feel for their home. At HIFA K and I were able to see the man who sings this song live. He sang this very song at the festival and it impacted me more than I can say. I had never heard the song before the festival but I’ll be honest to say I was singing along with the whole crowd at the end of the song. People were up from their seats dancing and everyone was singing “I love you Africa”. It was a moment where I felt like I belonged here because I share the same love for Africa. I love the bright colors, I love the passion and inhibition that allows for people to begin to dance at any time. I love that people hold hands to show that they are friends, I love the culture of calling the older generation mother or father as a sign of respect. There are a billion reasons to believe in Africa… and a billion more for loving Africa. I feel extremely grateful for the chance to experience each reason.
I love you Africa. (I think in my heart I’m becoming a Zimbo)