Unplugged is Harare's premier monthly family friendly music event. Three years after it first introduced the blankets and wine styled concept to the public, Unplugged has become THE city's day outing, where Harare's glitterati come to hob nob over sultry Afrocentric sounds by artists ranging from the completely unknown to established household names.
While Unplugged organizers, Chiedza Danha and Ellinah Chipumha insist of always trying to 'keep music at the centre,' it is clear that the music is simply the thread that binds this growing social tapestry.
The concept emanated from what the two organizers call an ‘obvious gap’ in the market. The absence of family oriented fun was the key driver for making it a day event and ensuring there was ample entertainment for the little ones as well. They cite the need for creating spaces that can be shared by all ages and races crucial to the city's social maturation.
In an interview with Harare Magazine they express the general struggle involved within the process of successfully bringing people of different ages and cultures together.
'In many ways Harare is a divided city. Older folks and younger folks don't mix very easily. Yes, specific types of entertainment exist for different age groups, but the festival’s atmosphere is supposed to be ageless, and we are trying to engender that culture. Why can't fathers and sons share the same passions and share the same spaces?' says Chipumha.
Danha on the other hand also questions the reticence across the city's different races and cultures to mix.
“There is something inherently 'off' about the fact that events are branded by race. Harare only becomes a cosmopolitan global city when we get past these perceptions. The potential cultural cross-pollination could be epic and music is the thing to close up these divides. It has a pure uniting quality,” she says.
Unplugged offers something for everybody. There is no question that the atmosphere created during the day retains a family appeal and centres around the music, food and fashion of Unplugged. If you want to see what threads and looks are really trending out there, Unplugged is the place to see it all. Call it developing urban legend, but runout has it that Unplugged outfits are planned up to a month ahead of each event.
“This is a self-conscious growing lifestyle brand. The people that create it are the people that consume it. We are building something that someone, the other day described as 'Harare’s urban fresh'. And it will develop and morph, and develop some more, opening up other avenues for entertainment that revolve around creative industry,” says Danha, adding that, “We are arts entrepreneurs. That means part of our mission is deliberately constructing an appreciation for various artistic industries. Unplugged is just the start!”
When asked about what audiences have to look forward to in 2017, the two said they intend to bring their first ever non-Zimbabwean acts and they will be taking their show on the road to the city of Kings, kwaBulawayo. There are a number of other cosmetic changes they will be making to enhance the experience for event goers.
The next Unplugged will be held on Saturday the 15th of April - perfectly placed between Easter holidays.
Follow Unplugged on twitter @UnpluggedZim