Whilst other artists were giving a derelict building a makeover with spray cans and positive messaging this is what the German DJ duo, Symbiz Sound, were doing to the crowds that squeezed under the marquee on the other side of a heavily populated car park. We became part of a potent mix of bass, dust, and flailing arms. It was an insane end to a beautiful week of concerts, comedy, spoken word, and exhibitions.
It’s all part of Shoko Festival; a weeklong celebration of urban culture that I help to put on every year in Harare, Zimbabwe. Now in its third year, for this edition of Shoko we hosted artists from Jamaica, Germany, South Africa, the UK, Canada, Botswana, and Tanzania. The talks largely revolved around new media and accessibility for artists and entrepreneurs whilst the concerts largely revolved around people losing their minds to bouncing rhythms from East Africa and gut wrenchingly powerful lyrics from poets like Ian Kamau from Canada.
The main festival site was a converted outdoor water park with two massive, industrial looking slides that hung in the air above the Chiwoniso Maraire main stage, which was named in remembrance of one of Zimbabwe’s most beloved artists who passed away earlier this year.
The event in question is called Peace in the Hood, the final daytime event where the stage is transported to one of the townships on the outskirts of the city. Art engulfs the community, the community engulfs the art. I can’t think of a day in the year that I look forward to more.