Book Café Wins Prestigious NAMA Award
A week ago on February 16th, The National Arts Council presented The Book Café with a NAMA Award for National Arts Service. The Book Café is one of Zimbabwe’s most important arts and culture venues, combining entertainment and artist development with informative discussions and critical platforms for freedom of speech. Book Café Senior Arts and Communications Officer Extra-Blessing Kuchera accepted the award at the star-studded ceremony.
The event was well-attended by various dignitaries, including Minister of Education, Sports and Culture David Coltart, ZiFM head Supa Mandiwanzira and music legend Oliver Mtukudzi. The Book Café received the National Arts Service award in recognition of the achievements of its live music venue and the outstanding support it gives to artists.
Book Cafe is part of Pamberi Trust and is founded on the belief that the arts are critical in shaping values that reflect society. Since its inception in 1997, The Book Café has evolved into a lively arts hub that is open 7 days a week and offers an art space that has become a place where all cultures mix freely and comfortably.
This award is the first time Book Café has been recognized by the National Arts Council. Senior Arts and Communications Officer Extra-Blessing Kuchera was very excited to receive the reward as it was completely unexpected. Kuchera says, “NAMA had said they wanted a representative from Pamberi Trust to come and present an award at the ceremony. They wanted to surprise Book Café so they didn’t tell us. I was supposed to present the National Arts Service Award to someone else. It was a genuine surprise! It’s a special award. They created this for specific individuals and organizations that have excelled in terms of developing arts in Zimbabwe.”
Kuchera was presented the award by acclaimed musician and guest of honour, Oliver Mtukudzi. Last year the National Arts Service Award was awarded to Prince Tendai Mpfurutsa. Speaking about the significance for the award Kuchera said, “NAMA looked at the quality that came out of The Book Café. However, from my perspective it’s just hard work, team work, commitment, determination and being responsible. The most important thing is being able to help people realize their potential – to go another mile. Being able to give people that opportunity is what we do and that’s what the award is all about. The artists are the ones who really deserve this award because they are the ones who come in and build themselves, who come in and enjoy their time at Book Café, and who come in and make a name that enables them to go places.”
The Book Café has been in operation for 16 years. In 2012, they moved from their location in Five Avenue to their new premises a stone’s throw away on Samora Machel. Last March, The Book Cafe received the prestigious Prince Claus Award for excellence in the arts from the Dutch organization, The Prince Claus Fund. Importantly, most of Zimbabwe’s well-known and well-loved musicians have performed or received critical support and mentoring through the many platforms and opportunities at The Book Café. These include, Chiwoniso Maraire, Victor Kunonga, 2013 NAMA Award winner Hope Masike, 2013 triple NAMA Award winner Suluman Chimbetu and singer Peace Ndlovu, popularly known as Ba Shupi.
Ba Shupi is a talented artist who is rising in the music scene, in part because of the important platform provided for artists at The Book Café. About the Book Café he says, “The Book Café is a platform that I also came into. I have learnt a lot and a lot has happened in my life through the Book Café, and the Open Mic and all the activities that happen at Book Café. For me to have a band, I got it from Book Café because it’s a meeting place for all different artists. In Zimbabwe the Book Café, are doing their level best to uplift us artists. That’s where I met people like Chiwoniso Maraire and all kinds of artists. At the end of the day, my dream would be for the Book Café to expand to other towns because every artist gets the opportunity to showcase their talent”.
Book Café continues to play a critical role in the development and promotion of arts and culture in Zimbabwe. Congratulations on their award.
Press Release from Book Cafe