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In the Zimbabwean capital, the annual Harare International Festival of the Arts ended on Sunday after a somewhat controversial week-long run. The festival ended with a fireworks display after the London Community Gospel choir gave the final performance, delivering a message of hope. There are some Zimbabweans who feel, because of the economic and political crisis, the festival should not have been held this year. Some say holding the festival sends a message that things are normal in Zimbabwe. They even launched a mail campaign to make their point. But the festival's founder and director, London-based Zimbabwean concert pianist Manuel Bagorro, argues that Zimbabwe needs the festival now more than at any other time. "I believe that this is absolutely the most important time to do something of this nature," said Mr Bagorro. "I think that any initiative that nurtures any section of our community is incredibly important at this time when people are so desperate. My decision to keep the festival right in the centre of the city, despite concerns about security, and concerns about petty crime and so on, is some effort on behalf of the festival to acknowledge the reality of the situation." ''Yes, it is true you walk out of the gates of the festival and are confronted with the destitution of many, many Zimbabweans," he continued. "However, it seems to me that to cancel a festival like this achieves nothing." Despite the controversy, thousands of people who could afford the modestly priced tickets and had the fuel to go to the city centre attended the festival. Zimbabwe's difficult times include 80 percent unemployment, shortages of basic commodities, and a political crisis that is splitting the nation. But for the last week, the Harare International Festival of the Arts provided, at least, some distraction.

According to the passage, some Zimbabweans believed it was inappropriate to go ahead with the festival because ------ .

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