Willom Tight in New Musical Wave

By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha | Global Editor At Large | @ChiefKMasimba |March 29, 2014

Ahhhh, yes. Finally, Zimbabwean musician, Willom Tight has decided to show the world what he is really made of.

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UNESCO Urges Zimbabweans to find Homegrown Solutions

HARARE, Zimbabwe – Zimbabweans need to find homegrown solutions to their challenges and problems, said UNESCO Director and Representative Harare Cluster Office, Professor Luc Rukingama, during a public discussion in Harare on Thursday.


“Zimbabwe needs to find its own solution – friends can come to help but the core task is in the hands of Zimbabweans themselves,” he said.

Rukingama said that in spite of the challenges facing the country, Zimbabweans need to learn to be patient.

“Unfortunately, when you look through our historical background, humanity has gone through wars and catastrophe. Countries evolve the same way as human lives,” he said.

“You get a disease say after 10 years or break a leg or something, and not yield the same harvest that you used to have.”

He said that it terms of achieving peace and development, there is no one size fits all and each country had to negotiate it own way.

“There are periods of stability and other periods of lack of stability, it is part of global life,” he said. “There’s no magic lesson – naturally after some difficulties – countries emerge,” he said.

Rukingama said that every Zimbabweans need to take responsibility to address the country’s challenges.

“We need everyone to bring a brick to build the country – it takes time – there is a need for patience because time is a big healer,” Rukingama said.

Magamba Cultural Activist Network to Film Zambezi News

By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha | iZiviso Global Editor At Large

HARARE, Zimbabwe – Groundbreaking Magamba Cultural Activist Network will film the pilot season of the its news comedy sketch “Zambezi News” in July 2012. The programme will be distributed regionally, from satellite television channels and will also be available locally on DVD.

Zambezi News is the breakthrough new comedy series that has had audiences in Zimbabwe and abroad in stitches since its launch in late 2011. Irreverent, sarcastic and downright hilarious this is the news as never seen before.

Created by two of the country’s pioneering creative minds, Comrade Fatso and Outspoken, Zambezi News parodies the relentless propaganda and astounding journalistic ineptitude on state TV through its comical news presenters.

The presenters humorously delve into a plethora of issues such as democracy, elections, race, land reform, corruption, sexism, gender issues, arts and sport – generally all aspects of life in Africa including all its contradictions and ironies.

Old Mutual Shuts Down Top Independent Arts Hangout Book Cafe/Mannenberg in Zimbabwe

By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha

One of Zimbabwe’s legendary arts and culture hangout, the Book Cafe and Mannenberg, located at the Five Avenues Mall in Harare’s Avenues suburb is scheduled to close its doors to the public at the end of the year due to lack of lease renewal by Old Mutual Property, owners of the property.

The two venues which are managed by the Pamberi Trust, have played a central role in the cultural life of the capital city. In fact, they have been the soul of the creative industry hosting artists of all guise from around Zimbabwe and the globe.

The Book Cafe was recently awarded the 2011 Prince Claus Awards worth €25 000 for its role in “culture and development”, built and focussed on a platform of freedom of expression across music, poetry and theatre with public discussion, film and multi-disciplinary arts.

According to a statement from Pamberi Trust Trust, OK Zimbabwe Pension Fund and its agents Old Mutual Property who own the Five Avenue Shopping Mall served notice to all tenants in the building that they intend to occupy the premise in 2012. Representations to the owners and the agents have proved to no availa, read the statement.

“After 7500 concerts and functions, 650 public discussions, over 70 book launches, 35 theatre productions, staging of 150 international touring acts and countless new local acts and collaborations that emerged within, Harare’s iconic music and performing arts centre, Book Cafe and Mannenberg, will close its doors to the public in Fife Avenue Shopping Mall,” said By Paul Brickhill, Pamberi Trust’s Creative Director .

“About 600,000 have entered the twin venues since opening, as Book Cafe in 1997 with Luck Street Blues, and Mannenberg in 2000 with historic performances by Africa’s great jazz pianist Abdullah Ibrahim. The two venues gave rise to the urban mbira phenomena, a Friday night institution in Harare’s nightlife, pioneered stand-up comedy, championed freedom of expression, laid the foundation for slam poetry, and created major youth and female arts development programmes. The venues were closely associated with many great jazz and blues acts in the early years, and latterly with the reggae renaissance sweeping Zimbabwe.”

Brickhill beamoned the little regard that is paid to civic cultural and intellectual life in Zimbabwe.

“One has to wonder what kind of Zimbabwean spirit and legacy we will create for future generations when the needs of civic cultural and intellectual life are so easily supplanted by those of commerce and profit, even while they can co-exist happily. Book Cafe, for those who truly know its heart, has been a place of beauty, joy and togetherness; and so it never failed to uplift the spirit. 350 artists earn a dignified livelihood at the venues, as well as 45 staff. Never in its history did it offend. All have been welcome, and so all came to visit at one time or other. As Edgar Langeveld once said, if you care to sit at Book Cafe long enough, a week or so, every kind of Zimbabwe will wander through,” said Brickhill.

“The pantheon of music, poetry, comedy, theatre and other artists that emerged through the Book Cafe and Mannenberg is simply the stuff of legend, their number runs not in dozens but hundreds. They know who they are, and in most cases so do the audiences. Some are here, some scattered, some have passed away and some retired. We pay tribute to them all”.

“There are not too many in political, social and media spheres that did not at some time engage in public debate in Book Cafe, and that includes many leaders of yesterday and today. We have been a place of free expression, a platform for exchange of public dialogue”.

“What will happen now is that we will bid farewell to Fife Avenue. The artists, audiences and friends who came to know and appreciate this space may also say their goodbyes, since each had their own way of being part of us and each other at Book Cafe and Mannenberg. This festive season is our last in this venue, and this New Year’s Eve is the last we shall enjoy together at this place, with a hug and a wish for the coming year at midnight”.

“Does the show go on? We will make our announcements in due course. For now, what I can say is that as one door closes in life, so another opens. After 30 years, we have not given up, despite some desperate hardships along the way. We have history. Honestly, it is for us just another bend in the path. To quote my old friend David Ndoro, with whom we invented much of the early years, ‘It is a journey, not a destination’. And so, yes, it will continue”.

“I would like, on behalf of some 1200 artists and our team here, to sincerely and humbly say thank you to every person who has supported, attended or performed at shows and events, who enjoyed themselves, engaged with others in the world of ideas and laughed together. To our many partners in the arts and civil society, as we always said, ‘we are building the kind of Zimbabwe we want to live in’. And so we did. And so we will continue”.

Arts Journalist Par Excellent, Novell Zwange, Passes Away

By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha

Harare, Zimbabwe – Award-winning Zimbabwean arts journalist, Novell Zwange, 34, who died early Saturday morning of stomach complications will be buried at Mbudzi Cemetery B-section, Harare, on Monday.

According to a family spokesperson, Zwange’s body will go for post-mortem Monday morning, then to his Kuwadzana, before proceeding to the cemetery at 1 pm.

The spokesperson also revealed that Zwange died of abdominal wall hernia. While hernia is in itself not life-threatening, it appears the condition was left until too late, and ended up strangulating that arts journalist’s intestines.

Zwange was a well-respected personality in the local arts industry always willing to share his knowledge and contacts with anyone that approached him. His affability and humble nature endeared him to many in Harare’s fledgling arts circle.

Zwange also had a stint in South Africa that exposed him to a lot of artists in that country. In addition, he did a lot to showcase the South African arts scene through his innumerable writings.

He was also a leading ecological and ethnic-fashion designer and his work with the BlackScissors Ethno Design label which he co-founded managed to get him worldwide acclaim.

“We’ve lost a great, vibrant young journalist to come out of Zimbabwe, it’s real sad because I spoke to him this week and agreed that we are going to meet next week at the Jazz Winter Festival. I don’t have words. He was a humble someone who had the love for local artists. Zimbabwe has lost. I will dedicate my performance at the Festival to him; he was a good friend,” said popular jazz musician, Jeys Marabini.

Zwangendaba was a multi-award-winning artist , whose writings graced several publications including the OpenDemocracy, JIVE magazine, the Daily News, The Zimbabwean, NewsDay, Nordic Africa News, Marimba Media, Artists Initiates among others.

Zwangendaba founded the EthnoDesignProject in 2005 and in 2007 the Project won the Global Young Social Entrepreneurship Award, as well as being shortlisted for the Innovator of the Year 2008 and also being selected among the Top 10 in the YSEI Awards.

He has designed for several commissioned projects, television shows, theatre productions, documentaries and film, renowned personalities and prominent organisations in Zimbabwe and beyond. In the year 2009 he became one of the few designers to selected to showcase at the biggest African showcase, the PanAfrica Cultural Festival held in Algeria

Elephant Man’s Show, A Mayhem

Harare, Zimbabwe – Elephant Man, also known as the Energy God, was pelted with a beer can at a show held at Glamis Stadium on Friday last.

But the reggae sensation brushed the incident aside and continued belting out tune after tune, infusing the 7,000-strong crowd that witnessed his musical showcase with energy.

It was very difficult to tell whether music fans were throwing beer cans and bottles onto the stage out of excitement or frustration but throughout Elephant Man’s perfomance all sorts of missiles could be seen flying in the air towards the stage.

There was huge commotion at the stage; approximately 100 people crowded the stage forcing Elephant Man a lot of times to stop and request people to be pushed off the stage.

To make matters worse, only two gates were open, and police with dogs that barked viciously could be seen manning the gates. It was clear that show organizers had not taken any lessons from previous concerts.

Elephant Man lost his phone and could be heard asking for it after he completed his act. Before he disappeared into the backstage missiles could be seen flying towards the stage until they formed a thick carpet on the stage.

Warren Park 1 Comes Alive in Arts

By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha

IT was a hive of activity at Warren Park 1 Shopping Centre on Friday where a potpourri of cultural activities were showcased to commemorate the National Culture Week.

Approximately 2,000 people, including pupils from schools around Warren Park and community members graced the event which was emceed by former television actor, Taonga Mafundikwa.

“The purpose was to reach out to the community and spread a message about professionalism in the arts as well as promote socially progressive ideas on HIV prevention and anti-child abuse,” said the show’s spokesperson and musician, Michael Buruzi, popularly known as 2Boy.

Besides the artistic activities, Childline-Zimbabwe which sponsored the event, used the occasion to campaign against child abuse.

“This was indeed a great show – it’s very pioneering especially considering that its young people that took the initiative and put this whole show together. A lot of young and upcoming artists were given an opportunity to showcase their talents. And most importantly, the community came out in full support for the show,” said Lennex Mandipaza, an official with the with the Media and Information Commission.

Local reggae aficionados, Transit Crew, belted tune after tune to much appreciation from the audience which was high engaged with the show. Nyau Nyau dancers otherwise known as Zvigure in local lingo proved a spectacle and wowed the audience with their energetic dances.

“The was definetely a success – we had less of challenges than we experienced last year. We did not expect to get such a big crowd. We also managed to showcase a lot of young artists from our community,” said Lozario Sean Zhita, the show’s organising officer.

“I’m very happy, I never knew that there was such talent in Zimbabwe. It’s very good that young people are doing positive things to transform their communities,” said Jairi Tsingadzi, a tobacco farmer from Mt Darwin who chanced upon the show.

Young Painter Searches for Self in Art

By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha

Bulawayo, Zimbabwe – Award winning painter, Carlton Gumede, 23, revealed that his work is still undergoing an evolution as he is still in a process of discovering himself.

“The biggest challenge with my work today is that I am still at a point of discovering myself in terms of technique and subject matter. I’m inspired by the works of French artists of different centuries and art movements. I do a lot of research and the gallery is a great platform for research because it has an arts reference library,” said Gumede whose artistic brilliance saw him win the Young Artist of Promise Award 2010 at the National Art Gallery of Bulawayo.

The painting for which he won the award is titled, “They Co-exist to Survive,” is a wildlife-inspired piece of art that features animals including zebras, giraffes, gembok and springbok at a waterhole against a background of a cloudy sunset. Gumede said that his art relies on a lot of painstaking detail which he takes time to perfect.

After he won the award, he was offered an artist in residence in one of the studios at the gallery. The young artist said being an artist-residence gave him an opportunity to interact with seasoned artists that are based at the gallery.

“I share the studio with well-seasoned and mature artist, Dumisani Ndlovu, who encourages and inspires me at a very personal level,” he said.

The painter said that he has a passion for learning new techniques to execute his art, adding that lack of resources was hindering his progression as an artist.

“I’m an art appreciating type of a student. I’m a practising artist and I do not do art because its a process of learning. However, one of the biggest challenges that I face is shortage of materials for painting. Lack of materials can overcome one’s creativity,” he said.

Gumede also said that he hope to take his work to international exhibitions in order to share his vision of Zimbabwean culture with the rest of the world.

“I’m hoping that one day my work will reach to the furthermost corners of the world. I look forward to sharing the Zimbabwean experience with the rest of the world,” said the artist.



Stand-Up Comic Takes Zim Laughter to the World

By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha

Harare, Zimbabwe – IT’s not often that Zimbabwe is associated with laughter especially in light of the country’s decade-long political and socio-economic demise.

But stand-up comic, Carl Joshua Ncube, is set on a pioneering path to prove that Zimbabweans still value  good ole laughter and can get the rest of the world to laugh too. Ncube is currently embarking on a worldwide tour that will take him to different parts of the world. He said that he was embarking on the world tour in order to export Zimbabwean culture to the rest of the world as well as engage in cultural exchange and reposition the image of the country in the world consciousness.

Some of the cities that Ncube will take his comedy performance to include Lusaka, Blantyre, Nairobi, Kampala, Lagos, London, Manchester, Edinburgh, Dublin, Paris, Berlin, Stockholm, Amsterdam, New York, Texas, Los Angeles, Brisbane, Kuala Lumpur, Beijing, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Grahamstown, Durban and Johannesburg.

“I want to leave a cave painting in each city that I will visit which will show that there was one day that a comedian from a small country called Zimbabwe that made the world laugh,” he said.

Ncube’s repertoire of comedy consists of one-line jokes, anecdotes, punchlines, satire and off-the-cuff statements that are backed by sleek, high-tech presentations and hilarious commentary.

Already, his efforts have garnered world attention: Ncube made history recently by becoming the first Zimbabwean stand-up comic to be featured on CNN’s African Voices programming where he outlined why he is embarking on a journey to spread laughing gas round the globe.

“It was unreal – I expected CNN to be a huge monster but the crew was very gracious. They didn’t know much about the cultural vibe and revolution taking place in Zimbabwe,”  Ncube said of his appearance on the global television station.

Ncube said that the aim of his comedic act it to portray a Zimbabwe that is remove from the often repeated negative portrayal in the international media.

“For a long time, politics has been like a fashion trend in Zimbabwe, but as citizens we’ve our own part to play in influencing a new conversation. I am interested in proving that a comedian can be funny outside the realm of politics. We want to hear about hope and laughter – there’s so much more to Zimbabwe,” he said.

The stand-up comic revealed that part of what he is doing is to re-imagine and reshape the Zimbabwean identity which has undergone serious bashing over the past decade.

“If the arts simply focus on the politics then we’re doing ourselves a great disservice. We need to focus on things about love, hope and other things outside politics. I’m trying to paint a picture of Zimbabwe that our citizens can be proud of,” said Ncube.

He added that the paradigm shift taking place in Zimbabwe provided him with inspiration to craft his acts aimed at influencing the global culture.

“There’s a shift in thinking happening in Zimbabwe – there’s a new type of land reform taking place, albeit, in people’s minds. As a Zimbabwean, my aim is to contribute to the global culture so that if earth is destroyed today, there will be evidence of Zimbabwe in the global culture. “I want to take Zimbabwean culture to the world and occupy a place in the consciousness of the universe through laughter,” he said.

Faith Ministries’ Mbare Community Church Launches Gospel Album

By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha

Mbare, Harare – MBARE, one of Zimbabwe’s oldest high-density suburbs, is often associated with all things negative, from crime, prostitution to poverty. An oft-repeated sentiment is: what good can come out of Mbare. Rarely does one hear of positive stories taking place in this bustling community of over 300,000 inhabitants.

But on Sunday, Faith Ministries’ Mbare Community Church (MCC) proved that there is so much to the neighbourhood beyond the negative hullabaloo. There was a hive of activity at the church as approximately 1,000 people crammed inside the church building to witness the launch of the MCC’s debut album titled, “Kingdom Praise Volume One.” It was all joy and celebration at the event which was graced by the church’s leadership, including African Sun CEO and Faith Ministries’ Senior Pastor, Dr Shingi Munyeza.

“It’s history in the making, we’re witnessing the launch of our first album. It’s been a dream come true. You often hear that what good can come out of Mbare but this album will transform people not only in Mbare but in the nation at large. What man has failed to do, God is able to do through men,” said Munatsi Sande, MCC’s pastor.

Popular acapella group, Shower Power, who were first on the stage, graced the launch with their mellow voices, evoking God with their version of African Doo-Woop, a form of acapella. They were followed by MCC’s Shabach Dance Factory who mesmerized the audience with their youthful, energetic dances.

The fifty-person MCC youthful choir, Kingdom Praise, dressed in flowing brown and yellow rimmed gowns then took to the stage with verve and pomp and sang with such soul-searching and spirit-invoking passion that aroused ululations, whistles and an occasional vuvuzela blow among the raucous audience. The songs on the album are not only richly themed but are also tight, well-arranged and exhibit maturity in subject matter which is essentially an invocation of God.

“When we began the journey here, we had a lot of issues to deal with in Mbare. Today, I can tell you that there’s a story of Mbare that is not being told but the time has come – this is it,” said Munyeza, quoting a Biblical verse, John 12:24,  on why the form of the seed must die to reveal its nature.

“There are somethings that had to die within us for us to achieve this feat. And I urge you all to let more things such as arrogance and pride die within you for us to reach new heights that God wants to take us to,” he added.

Stanley Gwanzura, popularly known as Pastor G, who also graced the event, gave a standing ovation, spirited performance that brought the church down, and left the audience crying for more. He was followed by Matthew Matsetse, a gospel musician from Botswana, who sang his heart out to much applause before Kingdom Praise took to the stage again.

“We’ve been witnessing a lot of change, especially among young people in our community. We believe we have a message for our community in Mbare and our nation at large,” said Tafadzwa Maramba, elder in charge of praise and worship at the church.

According to Nolan Kahonde, the church’s music director, the intention is to produce an album every year, hence the title, “Kingdom Praise Volume One.”

“It’s been a learning curve and the experience of going to a studio, writing and arranging the songs has been a real blessing from the Almighty,” said Kahonde, who composed four songs on the album.

Songs on the album except one were all written by MCC’s choir members include Ngatimurumbidzei, Mandisimudzira, Mweya Mutsvene, Kubwinya, Ndimi Moga, Ndinodavira, Tamirira Mweya Mutsvene, Arise Oh Church Medley, Fire On the Altar, and Zita Rashe.