The NACZ provincial teams mobilised different stakeholders for registered organisations to host and celebrate the UN proclaimed days. The response was overwhelming. As a result, the National Arts Council plans to make these annual activities and mark them on the NACZ annual calendar. Days observed so far are;
o World Poetry Day- 21 March
o World Theatre Day-27 March
o World Creatively and Innovation day-21 April
o World Book and Copyright Day-23 April
o World Intellectual Property Day-26 April
o World Dance Day-29 April
o International Jazz Day-30 April
Some of the major activities that took place were;
Celebrations for the World Intellectual Property Day that were held at Zimbabwe College of Music on 26 April 2018 were mainly driven by ZIMURA. In Bulawayo, on 21 May the province honoured Black Mfolosi for its immense contribution in the arts and culture sector at an event that was held at Inyathi Youth Centre. Observances of the UN days in Masvingo were the World Creatively and Innovation Day, World Book and Copyright Day and the World Intellectual Property Day which were collectively held on the 21st of April at the Charles Austin Theatre. The commemorations were a partnership of the NACZ, ZINGOMA, ZIMURA and the Ministry of Youths, Sports, Arts and Recreation.
NACZ STATEMENT ON THE OCCASION
THE WORLD POETRY DAY COMMEMORATION
21ST MARCH 2018
In the words of the UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova, “Poetry is a window into the breath-taking diversity of humanity”.
The commonality of humanity in its entirety is affirmed by poetry as exemplified by its propensity to reveal to the peoples of this world that as individuals, wherever we are in the globe, we share the same feelings and questions regarding human existence. As old as humanity itself, poetry is the embodiment of oral traditions that stood the test of time over centuries as an effective way of communicating and expressing deepest values of diverse cultures the world is endowed with. The innate creative attribute of the human mind is uniquely captured and expressed through poetry. In an exceptionally distinctive manner, poetry speaks across time, boundaries and culture, appealing directly to the inner-most feelings of people world-wide.
Let me remind Zimbabweans that poetry is not a luxury, it is deeply embedded at the heart of who we are as a people – both men and women harmoniously dwelling together today, drawing on the revered heritage passed on from generation to generation for posterity. As we celebrate World Poetry Day today, let us all be cognizant of the onerous task of being custodians of the world’s heritage for future generations. Poetry is important in ensuring that our heritage is preserved under the custodianship of the present generation. Above all, celebrating poetry is in itself a celebration of the capability of living together in the God-given spirit of harmony, peace and unison.
According to Pablo Nerada a reputable theatre practitioner, “Poetry is an act peace”. Being old as the different languages of this world, poetry remains a fundamental communication tool, even in times of hardships. Poetry mirrors society. It is a source of everlasting hope and is widely used to share and express what binds us as people of Zimbabwe as well as people of the entire universe. In essence, poetry expresses the way to share what it means to live together in this world.
Representing a window through which the breath-taking diversity of humanity is observed, poetry is an integral component of UNESCO’s representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity alongside a plethora of other oral expressions. Clothed in words, metaphorical images and other expressions, poetry is imbued with an unparalleled characteristic to unshackle people from everyday life while reminding us about the beauty that surrounds humanity. The resilience of the shared human spirit even in the face of calamities like extreme poverty, climate change, wars and extremism in whatever form, is aptly expressed through poetry.
This year Zimbabwe is marking and celebrating World Poetry Day at an opportune time, a time when the nation fully recognizes sixteen languages as official means of communication. It is expected that poems are recited in those diverse languages as a way of supporting Zimbabwe’s linguistic diversity as the nation traces its footsteps back to the era of oral traditions characterized by poetry recitals. Furthermore, World Poetry Day celebrations are being held when Zimbabwe is seized with the active implementation of the new curriculum in education, a curriculum that fully embraces arts education. The performing arts genre that includes poetry as a key component remains an important aspect of arts education in all Zimbabwe’s learning institutions at various levels.
Poetry in Zimbabwe has undergone massive development. It has witnessed tremendous growth with the emergence of dub poetry and praise poetry. Zimbabwe now boasts of world renowned poets like Albert Nyathi, Chirikure Chirikure and many others whose dub poems propelled poetry to a certain level that resulted in Zimbabwean poets clinching ambassadorial roles for such organisations like UNICEF and other local corporate organisations. Dub poetry is being continuously used in collaborations between musicians and poets.
Such collaborative productions are helping Zimbabwe in relaying messages to whole communities, messages of hope, messages enticing discernible behaviour change – messages that loud and clear speak about the ravages of societal ills (immorality, alcohol and drug abuse, child labour, human trafficking) and the ravages of pandemics like the HIV/AIDS scourge. The Zimbabwean society is being reminded of human suffering caused by such ills through poetry and the attendant remedies of the same. The emergence of dub poetry is also contributing to the phenomenal growth of Zim-dancehall, a musical genre that has taken root amongst the Zimbabwean young generation, creating many opportunities for the country’s artistically gifted young people.
Praise poetry, a phenomenon that resonates very well with the country’s cultural praise practices as expressed through our respected ubuntu/unhu has also emerged as a permanent feature of the country’s poetry landscape. Many poets have been very consistent in ensuring growth of praise poetry; poets like the affable Albert Nyathi, Leratho Ndlovu, Mbizvo Chirasha, Tinashe Muchuri and many others are putting praise poetry at a level that has resulted in this genre of the arts being fully recognized at national, regional and international levels.
Zimbabwe boasts of praise poetry that honours African heroes and heroines, particularly the fathers and mothers of Africa’s Liberation Movements. Praise poetry exalts the selfless and dedication of Zimbabwe’s own iconic figures in the two Chimurengas that the nation waged against colonialism and occupation, both living and the dead. Through such poetry we are as a nation reminded of the works of these venerated heroes of the First and Second Chimurengas as viewed through the eyes of Zimbabweans.
With the growth of poetry, Zimbabwe has witnessed the continued rise of women poets who are continuously standing their ground in what used to be a male dominated genre of the arts. Women poets in the mould of Sithandazile Dube, Batsirai Chigama and others of their ilk have been very consistent in producing message-laden poets, inspiring the girl-child into venturing in this form of art. Zimbabwean learning institutions at various levels have been very instrumental in propelling the growth of poetry to what it is today. Indeed, poetry has become an integral component of the arts landscape in Zimbabwe.
Today therefore, Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in marking and celebrating World Poetry Day. I humbly appeal to all stakeholders, publishers, the media, arts associations/organisations, poetry practitioners, learning institutions and the generality of the Zimbabwean people to celebrate this important day. Let us restore dialogue between poetry and other arts genres, theatre, music, dance and visual arts. Zimbabwe needs to project poetry as an attractive means of expression which enables it to regain and assert her unique identity in the community of nations. Poetry is not an outdated form of art; it remains an important aspect of human expression.
Mr. Nicholas Moyo
Acting Director – National Arts Council of Zimbabwe
NACZ STATEMENT ON THE OCCASION
THE WORLD THEATRE DAY COMMEMORATION
(Incorporating ASSITEJ World Day of Theatre for Children and Young People – 20th March 2018)
27TH MARCH 2018
Questioning the essence of life in front audiences, inventing answers and criticizing such answers about life and above all laughing and crying at humanity – is exactly what theatre practitioners do in plying their trade! Theatre seeks to invoke peace within people, peace within communities, peace within nations and ultimately peace in the world. Moments of spite and respite proliferate as theatre is used to unravel the complexity of better beings, a better world, all build in thoughts. Such is the beauty of theatre in exploring life and how humanity exists. The world is constructed and recreated through theatre. Through theatre, flaws of humanity are despised; paradoxes and distortions that characterize human life are questioned. Pettiness that blemishes humanism and the tricks that cause cataclysms are interrogated. This is exactly what theatre does in human life.
Exploring life in general, theatre seeks to mirror society, questioning and exploring the human experience in the past, present and the future. Theatre remains an integral component of any nation’s existence; hence it is important that Zimbabwe commemorate World Theatre Day that falls on 27th of March each year. As a nation, we are beholden to what our theatre stockholders and stakeholders churn out in their quest to develop this genre of the arts. Theatre remains one of the ways through which Zimbabwe carries out an introspection examining her flaws and paradoxes. This is a day for theatre practitioners, arts organisations, learning institutions (at all levels), and indeed all stakeholders in this genre of the arts to advance the cause of theatre. My message to you all is that amplify your voice in lobbying Government for appropriate theatre spaces in the country while reaching out to all communities of this nation in spreading theatre.
A precursor to World Theatre Day commemorations is the ASSITEJ World Day for Children and Young People slated for 20th March 2018. Hinged on the theme “Take a Child to the Theatre Today”, is designed to drive the entitlement of children and young people to theatre and the arts.
“Take a child to theatre, today!” – is the buzz word this year as propagated by ASSITEJ in commemorating and celebrating World Day of Theatre for Children and Young People slated for 20th March 2018. A clarion call is made to the entire world with a special focus on “national centres, individual members, companies, arts organisations, academics, teachers, artists, practitioners and others interested in theatre for young audiences to connect with the idea of the world day and make a case for children’s entitlement to theatre and the arts”. Cognizant of the transformative trait of the performing arts in children and adults globally, nations around the world Zimbabwe included are encouraged to use theatre as a tool for transforming the world through infotainment and edutainment theatrical performances.
The fact that children are the future of the world is not in question; conversely theatre remains the most effective way through which one expresses himself or herself, mirroring what is good and wrong in the world we live in today. A theatrical stage resembles a space where one can create his or her own world, creating a feeling of the realization of one’s dreams. Through theatre, practitioners particularly children can emit their past and aspirations for the future while being able to influence people’s emotions, giving such people an opportunity to experience the reality of the practitioners’, past, present and the future through a touch of art.
As Zimbabweans, let us all spare a thought for our children as they mix and mingle in a dusty playground, a township hall, a classroom or a refugee compound, all of which are turned into theatre spaces for children each day. The adage “Taking Theatre to the Child in 2018” is a rallying point for all stakeholders pursuant to the need to expose children to life enriching theatrical performances.
Theatre remains one of the most visible performing arts genres in Zimbabwe. It has created reverberations in learning institutions; ECD, primary schools, secondary schools, colleges and universities. Zimbabwean secondary schools are now the epicenters for the growth of theatre. As a mirror of society, theatre remains an effective mechanism for the intricate examination of what we are as Zimbabweans and indeed what we stand for in the global society.
Let us remember what institutions like Theatre in the Park and the now defunct Amakhosi did for the development of theatre. Zimbabwe now has an avalanche of theatre practitioners because of the works of luminaries in the field of theatre like Stephen Chifunyise, the late Walter Mparutsa, Conte Mhlanga, Davies Guzha and others. Zimbabwean theatre’s growth trajectory is anchored on the works of these people, including those before them. One will forever cherish the performances of renowned yesteryear theatrical actors – the Saphirio Madzikatires (aka Mukadota) of this world and many others of his ilk who combined music and theatre in entertaining audiences. The sketches that punctuated their musical performances gave birth to present day Zimbabwean theatre productions.
Today organisations like Nhimbe Trust, Patsime Edutainment Trust, CHIPAWO, ASSITEJ Zimbabwe and many others have taken in-school theatre to astronomical levels. Indeed, these organisations are playing a pivotal role in ensuring that arts education fully embraces theatre. While paying theatre audiences seem to be dwindling at traditional theatre venues, theatre productions of the organisations referenced above have been consistent in maintaining theatre vibrancy in schools.
Development partners and agencies, corporate entities, NGOs, local authorizes and Government in Zimbabwe realized the importance of theatre as a medium of communication. Theatre for Development has evolved into a necessary communication tool that is now being used by the organisations as listed above, thereby creating new audiences for this genre of the arts. Just like poetry, theatre is now being used through various productions to inter alia explore issues of development, societal ills, HIV/AIDS issues; all designed to invoke behaviour change amongst the targeted audiences. That theatre is an effective tool for relaying developmental messages and information is not in doubt, and Zimbabwe fully subscribes to that notion.
Driven by the zeal to promote theatre, Theatre in the Park and lately Theatre PaBridge (the latter being a community theatre initiative by community-based theatre practitioners), have continued to embrace the development of this genre of the arts at community level. Many theatrical productions are being flaunted at these venues, giving theatre practitioners a platform to express themselves. Theatre in Zimbabwe is alive and thriving.
We are celebrating World Theatre Day today when the world has tremendously advanced in terms of technology and Zimbabwean theatre, particularly indigenous theatre can be promoted via various means that inter alia include social media platforms, cinema and live performances. Let us reach out to all audiences in spreading the gospel of theatre. Take advantage of the winds of change in the education circles and promote in-school and out-school theatre programmes. Zimbabwe can stand out in the community of nations through the flaunting of her theatrical productions in their diversified forms.
Today Zimbabwe takes pride in showcasing what it is made of in the field of theatre. I personally encourage Zimbabwean theatre practitioners to explore every facet of the Zimbabwean society through this effective medium of communication as the national seeks to build everlasting peace and harmony. Zimbabwe’s unique identity and respected cultural heritage as expressed through the venerated spirit of Ubuntu/Unhu can be showcased through theatre.
Furthermore, theatre remains effective in passing on age old traditions, indigenous knowledge and other critical information from generation to generation, perpetuating the nation’s heritage both past and contemporary. Zimbabwe stands to benefit immensely if it propagates its uncompromising ethos through theatre as well as the country’s aspirations. The entire national agenda can be driven through theatre performances at all various levels of society.
Today theatre stands at the pinnacle of the nation’s development agenda whereupon the private sector, government departments, NGOs, UN agencies and other development partners are increasingly pushing their respective development agendas through theatre. The onus now lies upon the practitioners themselves to work hand-glove with these agencies through the performance of theatre productions that are sync with the objectives of these varied interested organisations that use theatre in their operations.
Theatre remains a developmental tool, an effective communication method and above all an important aspect of the learning process. It can be used to depict identity as well as a weapon for cultural expressions. By joining the rest of the world in celebrating World Theatre Day, Zimbabwe affirms her respect to international days as proclaimed by the relevant arms of the United Nations. The nation remains committed to the development of theatre as an important aspect of the arts in general.
Mr. Nicholas Moyo
Acting Director – National Arts Council of Zimbabwe