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.

Digital artist opens new avenues

By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha

INNOCENT Fungurani, aka, Answer, who is pioneering digital art in Zimbabwe revealed that he is on a mission to put the country on the global arts map.

Fungurani (23), who recently showcased his digital works at the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) in an exhibition titled “Beyond Boundaries” said that his art is merely a dialect to communicate issues of social significance.

The works he exhibited were extracts from an ambitious journal project that he is currently working on entitled, “Superstition.” His works have a surreal, avant-garde, experimental and an almost dreamy metaphysical quality that speak in a way that language cannot convey.

Fungurani, who is a volunteer art teacher at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, said that he has always had a fascination for computers from a young age and always sought for ways to be creative around them using the most basic software.

“I define digital art as any art which is created through the medium of  technology be it cellphones, digital cameras or computer webcams. I find this really fascinating because computing systems are fast becoming more accessible, cheaper and efficient in Zimbabwe,” said Fungurani is also a spoken word poet and painter.

Fungurani revealed that he is inspired by everything around him, including the urban vibe, people, architecture and public spaces, culture and language.

“I believe my generation of digital artists is one of many that will emerge out of Zimbabwe. Digital art has greater potential to influence society because many of our spaces are becoming computerized. People also have the need to consume art is the same way that they consume commands at work,” he said

The artist, who was awarded the top poetry prize for the US Public Affairs’ Black History Month poetry slam, said that art for him has been a process of constant evolution towards self-knowledge.

“I was first fascinated by language until I felt that I needed to find other forms of expression to convey ideas that language could not easily express. Due to the some social taboos around language, I felt limited to express on issues such as sexuality, politics and religion,” he said.

“That is how I discovered that images could portray controversial ideas is a more effective way, and communicate to a larger number of people, including the illiterate.”

As a result of this realization, Fungurani said he took to painting and colour before he discovered the field of computerized art.

Fungurani has already made a significant mark on the arts scene in Zimbabwe through highly, innovative projects that have involved many merging young artists. In 2009, he co-founded Kreative Activists Overturning Society (KAOS) with hip hop poetess and filmmaker, Cynthia Marangwanda.

As part of his social contribution, Fungurani said his organization is currently planning a major festival of alternative arts expression that will be held early next year.

“Zimbabwe has been starved of alternative voices; society has become dependent on state and corporate media, yet these are mouth pieces of the rich and powerful. That’s why KAOS will hold a festival dedicated to alternative forms of expression. We are working to create a platform to show case different dynamic and radical art forms,” he said.

Verbal extravanganza slated in city

By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha

AN innovative project titled, Poetry Nights, aimed at bringing spoken work to new audiences, will be held at the Jameson Hotel on Friday and Saturday this week. 

The project, which is being coordinated by Complete Arts Project, an arts organization in collaboration with Cresta Jameson seeks to expand performing spaces as well as the consumption of the arts in the country.

According to the event coordinator, Ms Rutendo T. Chigudu, several poets will showcase their skills during the two-day verbal extravaganza.

“We have selected a cosmopolitan retinue of poets combining a mix of local and international languages including Shona, Ndebele, English and Hebrew, to mention but a few. The poets will give readings, recitals and performances, singularly, in duets and in groups. We have carefully selected our poets to appeal to a wide spectrum of our audiences,” said Chigudu, adding that her organization was determined to bring poetry to a new niche market.

“We believe in the power of art as a medium for social change and development. We will strive for creative excellence as we present entertaining, relevant and inspiring theatre for our valued audiences,” she said.

Some of the poets that are expected to perform include Mutumwapavi, Teacher Muzavazi, Flow Chyld, Shi’loh Binyamin Shimon, Semalo, Mbizo Chirasha and Rtendo Tapiwa among others. The poetry performance will cover themes ranging from love, justice, peace and freedom, according to Chigudu.

“Audiences should come expecting a feast of poetry. Poets will come alive and share their art with the audience in an all embracing atmosphere. A variety of poetry will be showcased on the two nights,” said Chigudu.  “Poetry as never before will be served up for the audience’s enjoyment. Poetry Nights is offering everyone a sumptuous dish in as many languages and forms as one can take in.”

Girl Child Creativity Project Launched

By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha

Harare, Zimbabwe – A new project, Girl Child Creativity, aimed at mitigating the under-representation and unbalanced participation of young females in the arts in Zimbabwe was launched last week in Harare.

The project which is a brainchild of  internationally acclaimed performance poet and writer, Mbizo Chirasha and veteran filmmaker and broadcaster, Agnes Gudza, is aimed at enhancing the ability of girl-children to develop themselves mentally and creatively.

“The aim of this project is to reduce the under-representation of young women in the creative industry. We want to teach the girls how to find opportunities with their talents and develop them. We want to avoid the syndrome in the country currently where people want to fly yet they can only crawl,” said Chirasha.

“We are going to have motivational, poetry and writing workshops. In future, we are going to have talent realization programmes where we going to have accomplished writers, musicians and promoters talking to the girls on how to identify and nurture their talents.”

Agnes Gudza, operations manager of the project and renowned filmmaker, said that the project was aimed at empowering the mental capacity of young girls so that they can become creative in all aspects of the arts and their lives.

She added that the purpose of the programme is to reach out to a lot of girls especially in the rural areas.

“We want the girl child to improve the state of their lives and livelihoods through the ability to be creative. We are also going to make a film on the importance of empowering the girl-child. The script for the film is already done and is currently being edited,” said Gudza.

Chirasha said GCC is working in collaboration with the US Public Affairs, the New Ambassador Hotel, the Girl Child Network in Zimbabwe as well as Chiedza Childcare Centre to reach out to disadvantaged and marginalized girls in the country. He said that the first part of the programme will be rolled out in Harare before moving to Gweru, Masvingo and the rest of the country.

Gary Muponda Tight in sterling musical performance

By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha

Harare, Zimbabwe – GARY Muponda Tight, son to popular Afro-reggae and pop musician, Willom Tight, gave a sterling performance at Mannenberg last week backed by his band, Zion Originated.

Tight, (15) who was an opening act for mbira maestro Taku Mafika’s homecoming show, exhibited a musical maturity that belied his age.

“I just want my music to go very far where no Zimbabwean music has gone before. I want my work to be known locally and internationally,” said Tight, who is currently pursuing Form Three educational studies at Churchill High School.

Tight revealed that he started playing at age two, and is in his high school’s jazz band. Last year, he went on a five-country European musical tour to with several upcoming local musicians including Mafika and Tina Watyoka among others.

During his performance, Tight played the mbira and sang with a high level of confidence that endeared him to the hordes of people that came to the show. The young musician paid tribute to his father for teaching him as well as mentoring him about the music field.

“My journey in music has been very smooth, thanks to my father. He has always been there for me. He has taught me much of what I know about music today. In addition, he is always giving me advice about how to conduct myself as a musician,” said Tight.

His act at the Mannenberg consisted of an eclectic fusion of the mbira, key board, guitar and drums. The young musician capped it all with his mellow voice and richly themed lyrics. Without a doubt, Tight is an emerging artist to look out for in the near future.