The Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) will this year visit surrounding prisons in Harare to carry out performances to entertain the contry’s prisoners most of whom are reported to be living in squalid and unhealthy conditions.
HIFA Founder and Artistic Director, Manuel Bagorro confirmed in Harare that they are involved in negotiations with prison authorities to get permission to visit surrounding prisons as part of their outreach programme.
However, Bagorro could not confirm at the time of going to press if permission had been granted by prison authorities.He was also confident that the planned programme was going ahead.
HIFA Executive Director, Maria Wilson also confirmed the planned initiative saying that the idea was to “lift up the spirits of prisoners.”She said that they were targeting that community because it was marginalised and they needed to engage with it in conformity to this year’s theme:the engagement party.
This year’s theme is meant to facilitate community celebration and engagement.HIFA will also support orphan and vulnerable children including providing employment to street youths.Some of the organizations HIFA will network with include Streets Ahead and Childline, according to Bagorro.
According to recent media reports, there are between 1,300 and 1,500 inmates in Harare Central Prison alone and without outside help and donations prisoners may starve. Many in Zimbabwe’s prisons are reported to be already dying as a result of food shortages and disease.There are also problems of overcrowding fuelling spread of disease.