Kubatana.net ~ an online community of Zimbabwean activists

Archive for July, 2011

MINDBLAST DISCUSSION – creating commercially viable art

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Thursday, July 28th, 2011 by Upenyu Makoni-Muchemwa

Pamberi Trust in collaboration with the British Council and The Prince Claus Foundation re-launched their Mind Blast series last week. The aim of the Mind Blast discussions is to serve as a networking platform, and as a forum to discuss and debate the opportunities and challenges faced by the creative industry. The first of the discussions involved artists, civic society organisations and arts administrators and took place at the Mannenburg. The discussion was opened by an emotive and poignant performance of two Harare Files monologues by Tonderai Munyebvu.

A number of issues arose during the discussion, most significantly was the relationship between artists and civic organisations and the art that was created as a result. In a previous interview with Kubatana Rumbi Katedza said:

The challenge that has arisen here in Zimbabwe is that it seems to be the only direction that art has been taking over the last decade because that [civic organisations] is where much of the core funding has been coming from. Individuals and organisations will do art depending on what the key word is for that day. We’re stuck in a rut; we need to get out of that and create art for art’s sake.

During the discussion several artists echoed this sentiment and also expressed concern over the emergence of NGO agenda driven art. While it is noble to want to create art for its own sake, many artists noted that they too had to make a living and because of this, their art was subject to corruption for the purpose of delivering a message. Civics, it was noted, often demanded that art be explicit in conveying their message. Another artist expressed frustration that while local artists were forced to produce this kind of art, conversely, artists from the home countries of some donors and organisations were treated completely differently, and given the space to create and or perform their art without interference. Participants moved on to agree that art was created in response to the artist’s environment, and thus art was important in examining social issues.

There is in general a need to find alternative means for supporting art, and teaching artists and arts administrators’ sustainable business models. An oft cited example of a commercially successful Zimbabwean artist who has managed to stay true to his artistic voice is Oliver Mtukudzi, another example is Dominic Benhura. Their models for creating commercial viability vary but the outcome is the same: they are able to live on their art.

Selective policing in Zimbabwe

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Thursday, July 28th, 2011 by Bev Clark

Photo from The Zimbabwean.

Riot police stand aside whilst violent protesters besiege Parliament. But when activists from Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) peacefully deliver a petition to Parliament or ZESA they get rounded up by riot police and taken down to Harare Central.

Lodger’s have rights too

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Wednesday, July 27th, 2011 by Bev Clark

We recently published information by the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) on the issue of lodger’s rights. Here is one of the responses that we got:

Thank you for your informative news. That piece with lodgers’ rights has opened old wounds for me. We were renting 2 rooms in a house in Glen View 7 at $40 dollars each. We were paying our dues on time but to our surprise the landlord came one morning and told us to look for accommodation elsewhere. We assumed that there was 3 months notice but we were proven wrong as he started calling us 2 days later demanding us out. He started terrorizing us with phone calls and sms, each and every hour telling us time was not on his side. We requested him to give us time citing our demanding work schedules, 2 days was too little for us. l vowed that l was going to make him throw us out and would sleep by his gate with our the 9 months old baby. l am an African and l would like to say strange things started happening at the house during the night. There was one particular incident that really frightened us and the next morning we found ourselves in a rat infested storeroom a sympathetic friend had offered as temporary accomodation. For me, it was fine as long as l had shelter but the poor kid got ill. The rats had the habit of playing all over and would go for the food, clothes etc in that room. She had nausea and a running tummy and also got some rash from the lice the rats normally carry around. We only managed to find some decent place four months later and l believe what the man did to us was one of the most brutal, inhuman things anybody can do, especially to a baby.

Are Zimbabwean youths faking it or figuring it out?

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Wednesday, July 27th, 2011 by Elizabeth Nyamuda

It’s very often you hear people, especially the youth in Zimbabwe, speaking in what seems to be borrowed accents. A scenario that many people might have encountered is in public transport, say in a commuter omnibus, when a girl’s phone rings and she picks up an accent and everyone turns their heads to try and match the face with the accent. Also ladies who call into radio stations tend to speak in a borrowed accent, which the DJ finds it hard to hear what is exactly being said. So they try by all means to keep the conversation short.

A food for thought session facilitated by DefZee, an online youth group, at the U.S. Embassy’s Public Affairs Auditorium discussed the topic, “Faking it- this generation’s new religion”. The panel that shared their views on the issue included local musicians Stunner, Cindy and Ten Diamond. The musicians seemed to have different views but listening closely it seemed like they thought in a similar way.

The musicians were asked to respond to this whole faking it religion and whether they were faking it. Ten Diamond said that people have been faking it for ages and it was not something only to be associated with the youth of today. He admitted that the media has a great role to play in influencing the youth. Therefore in his view Zimbabwean youth are not faking because of the environment they are living in which is dominated by the western media. In his own right as an artist, he sings hip-hop, a music genre from America. However, he contextualises his lyrics to suit the Zimbabwean environment.

Stunner admitted that people are faking it 90%. He said that youths fake for a reason and in so doing some find themselves living different lives at home, on stage, with friends or at church. Personally Stunner maintains that he is not doing any faking because he is not trying to live anyone’s lifestyle but his own. For example in his hit song ‘Team Hombe’, he sings ‘andisi mhene zvangu asi ndiri bho‘ (I am not filthy rich but am cool). He explained that he doesn’t have much money to live the flamboyant lifestyle but with what he has it’s enough for him and he is cool with it.

Cindy, the only female artist on the panel and who had the opportunity to perform at this year’s Big Brother Amplified show, is hurt by those who fake it. To her the youth living in Zimbabwe are not faking as much as those Zimbabweans living in the diaspora. She gave an account of a number of her friends who are Zimbabwean and living in the diaspora but when asked of their nationality they claim to be Malawians or South Africans. She also discussed some of the diaspora which upon returning to Zimbabwe cannot speak Shona or Ndebele. To her, these people fake it by leaving and denying their roots. In her words, ‘faking it is denouncing who you are and embracing who you are not’.  Cindy said she wrote a song, ‘Zimbo swag‘ to celebrate the style, intelligence and resources Zimbabwean youths have.

All the artists on this panel were asked why they use fake names or dress in certain ways on stage. Aren’t they faking it? They responded that they are in the music business to sell and therefore they dress to sell. They give themselves fake names for easy identification, and easy recall on the listener’s part. So the next time you see Rocqui on stage with his torn jeans and shabby hair he’s not faking, he is merely trying sell his music. You can be a salad, murasta, muninja but are you faking it?

Insulting the President is an everyday occurrence

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Wednesday, July 27th, 2011 by Elizabeth Nyamuda

This is a story from the newsletter, Legal Monitor of July 25, 2011, published by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights:

A 52-year-old man is in trouble after allegedly telling a ZANU PF workmate that President Robert Mugabe’s death was imminent.

Zebedia Mpofu, a general hand labourer at a private security firm, allegedly mocked his workmate, informing him that a soft drink and packet of biscuits he was having for lunch came courtesy of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. He is being charged under the harsh Section 33 (1) (a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 as read with Section 33 (2) (a) of the same Act for allegedly undermining the authority or insulting the President.

According to the State outline, Mpofu was at work in October last year when he went to Gilbert Matarutse’s office. Matarutse, a security officer known to be a ZANU PF supporter, was having his lunch at the time.

“The accused shouted to Gilbert through the window, saying that the biscuits and the cascade he was having were brought by MDC-T through its leader Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai,” reads the State outline. “He went further to say that President Mugabe had ruined the country and that he was going to be dead by December 2010 then Morgan Tsvangirai would take over as President of Zimbabwe.”

Statements recorded from other workmates acting as witnesses all deny hearing Mpofu utter the alleged words. Mpofu joins dozens of other Zimbabweans, from politicians to ordinary villagers, who are in court charged under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act on politically-related issues.

This story coincides with a statement issued by ZLHR programmes manager for International Litigation, Lobby and Advocacy Project, Dzimbabwe Chimbga at last week’s Food for Thought session at the US embassy’s Public Affairs Section. In his lecture presentation on democracy, Chimbga highlighted that there was an alarming increase in cases of people being arrested for insulting the President. “One of the most fascinating things at ZLHR is that everyday we are getting a case of a person being charged with the law of insulting the President. If you say anything critical, especially mentioning governance and in particular the current president you are likely to spend a night in jail,” said Chimbga.

TEDx is coming to Harare!

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Tuesday, July 26th, 2011 by Bev Clark

Only 100 people will be selected to attend – application open to the public

More than just another talk-shop TEDxHarare will celebrate the transformative power of ideas that improving the way citizens of the world live, learn, work and play. The conference will honour African innovators whose passion, curiosity and dogged resolve is paving the way to a newer, brighter future for Zimbabwe and the continent. TEDxHarare will feature presentations by phenomenal professors, entrepreneurs, story tellers and remarkable artists who are contributing to the vast potential that is Africa’s future.  Confirmed speakers and presentations include Chris Kabwato, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Oswald Jumira, Marianne Knuth and Sarah Norman.

In order to create an intimate setting for more interaction, conversation and connection with the speakers, organisers of TEDxHarare have limited attendance to only 100 seats. The event is open to anyone who is passionate about spreading ideas in the spirit of TED. Interested attendees must apply to participate in the limited-space event.

To register either send a blank email to register [at] tedxharare [dot] com or visit the site at www.TEDxHarare.com and click on the ATTEND tab.