By Lindah Mavengere
One of a kind events are great to attend; they always seem to offer something different and a promise of a memorable evening marked with new adventures. In Harare, we have people like Kunal Solanky who have taken their love of mystery games and turned them into events for murder mystery game lovers to enjoy.
Starting as a hobby, Kunal hosted his friends to game nights with Murder Mystery as one of the games played. Upon receiving encouragement from his friends, he decided to take these games and transform them into something Hararians could enjoy. Starting off as Mid Savannah Murders in 2019, he has now rebranded this events company to Quirky Events, an arts and entertainment events centre located at The Gallery Café, Mount Pleasant. Here they host murder mysteries that have grown in popularity and the newly introduced Escape Room which I attended. The Escape Room was Egyptian themed and hosted from the 12th to the 14th of November.
I had the pleasure of attending one of the murder mysteries based on a survivor reality show Tribal set in the fictional islands of Moko Shanti; on the night of the murder all participants, crew and other characters had gathered for the grand finale of the show at which the winner would be revealed. It was, however, discovered that the show’s creator had been murdered with a machete. In line with this, the Gallery had been transformed to suit the theme of the evening, drawing inspiration from the Show itself, the exterior was adorned with survivor and tribal ornaments and tribal island setting of the murder mystery. The inside was dimly lit for a night of suspense, suspicion, betrayal and shocking revelations.
Covid protocols were in place, with the presentation of a vaccination card or a Covid-19 negative test, a requirement. After receiving a welcome refreshment and character profile Kunal walked us through this particular murder mystery and what was expected of us. The character profiles proved to be quite handy as they provided detailed information on the character one was playing, other characters in the mystery and how all the different characters were linked to the mystery. I played Jules McGee, a snake and insect expert from Australia and a secret member of an extremist human rights group. The introductions helped in identifying all the characters, making it easy for interactions. Soon we were ready to begin, and I immediately got into character as we commenced the three-hour-long murder mystery.
I was captivated by the survivor theme of the murder mystery and particularly enjoyed dressing up for it. If you love an occasional shift from your reality, interacting with new people and stepping out of your comfort zone, a murder mystery would be a great experience for you. I must add that murder mysteries are highly interactive, after all, you ARE trying to solve a murder and all the participants during our play were sociable and friendly, making it easy to strike up a conversation. As a first-timer, I found the character file most helpful, as it contained cues and suggestions on what I could do to kickstart my search for the murderer. It also included clues and secrets to help in solving the mystery.
The host of the show was present to assist and clarify at all times. While it seemed complex before we started, I found that the more I interacted with other characters, the more the mystery unravelled before me. For those of you like me, with good attention to detail skills and love to solve an occasional mystery, the discovery that every detail was important in solving the murder made it all the more interesting. I enjoyed portraying Jules, an extremist of all sorts, and using the knowledge I had to get information out of the other characters. Once we began, we were to stay in character for the duration of the mystery, and I appreciated how everyone adhered to this, with all conversation centred on the murder. For a while, I forgot that I was in Harare, as I was transposed to the beautiful Moko Shanti Islands.
Dinner was served promptly at 1830hrs. This was a scrumptious meal of Hawaiian pineapple chicken, tropical island rice, grilled vegetable kebabs and corn, mushrooms, peppers and onion, with a Hawaiian Macaroni Salad. It was a true islander meal, which complemented the theme of the mystery. During this time, I enjoyed getting to know the other characters on the Moko Shanti islands as we tried to solve the mystery. By 1945hrs, the host announced that the mystery had ended, and we gathered to reveal whodunit. At this point, we all shared who we thought was the murderer, and took turns to reveal our secrets and any involvement we may have had with the murder. The murderer and conspirators were finally revealed, and the revelations prompted gasps of amusement. I was happy to have solved part of the mystery, but as with any good murder mystery, nothing had prepared us for the shock of it all.
By 2000hrs, we were ready to leave, having solved the mystery of Tribal creator Jeff Thompson’s murder. The night was undoubtedly one to remember, as I got to experience a new activity outside of my usual pastimes. The Quirky Events team worked hard to ensure a flawless event before and during the murder mystery. I especially liked the cohesion, from the décor to the dinner menu. I enjoyed this experience and would recommend it to anyone keen on trying a new activity under the Harare skies in a hospitable environment.
Images by Quirky Events
Originally published in the 120th Ndeipi Magazine