Zimbabwean music continues despite odds

Amandla! - singing down apartheid

Amandla! - singing down apartheid

Music and art mirror the world around us, and the more difficult the circumstances that surround artists, the more intense the result is. Some of South Africa’s most classic cultural expression was created pre-1994, when the majority of this country suffered under an oppressive regime.

During apartheid, music played a vital role in the struggle for freedom.” (Mandla Masingi) Artists such as Mzwakhe Mbuli, Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, Abdullah Ibrahim and Johnny Clegg were at the forefront of the musical revolution, but now that this country is moving forward we are exposed to more mundane issues like loslappies, aeroplanes, pot-bellies and wet welly’s!

zimbabwe5Can you imagine being an artist in Zimbabwe at the moment?

Being creative, and vocalising the issues that affect the day-to-day life of Zimbabweans is still a dangerous activity as freedom of speech is only practiced by the politicians of that country. It must be almost impossible to earn a living as an artist and musician, when the daily struggle for survival is a national obsession. Which is why I am always so pleased to hear that festivals such as the Chimanimani Festival are able to continue regardless of all the obstacles!

Chimanimani Festival 2009

Chimanimani Festival 2009

The Chimanimani Arts Festival 2009 will take place again this year, from May  23-24,  and promises an  exciting program of music, dance, theatre, spoken word, film shows, arts, crafts and workshops.

Festival Director Steve “Sparx”, of Thulani Promotions is one passionate guy! Just the fact that he has the energy, year on year, to put together this event should be an inspiration to all those who complain and grumble about lack of support and funding for cultural initiatives both here in South Africa, and the rest of the continent.

Dudu Manhenga

Dudu Manhenga

The festival showcases some of Zimbabwe’s better known artists and performers, and this year includes Tongai “Dhewa” Moyo, Dudu Manhenga and Dino Mudondo. This years festival will also feature Spanish  trio Demachena and their fusion of mbira, Spanish guitar and percussion – thanks to the support of the Embassy of Spain and other donors who contributed towards making this years festival a reality.

The press release I received says, “The festival is “free entry” and attracts many of the local, and district folk looking for entertainment as well as welcoming visitors from further afield. The main stage is located on the village green with the Chimanimani Mountains forging a stunning backdrop.

Crowds at Chimanimani Festival 2008

Crowds at Chimanimani Festival 2008

Accommodation is limited so it will be good to book early if you are looking for a room – The Chimanimani Hotel ($35 single/$40 double – bed only ) is the only real option – reservations can be made direct (Tel (0913)220163 or
(026)2850/6 or contact as below.

Both the hotel and Heaven Lodge offer good camping facilities (with onsite ablutions) and are both within a 5 minute walk of the main festival venue. Full bar and catering will be available at various outlets for the duration of the festival.

Bridal Veil Falls - Chimanimani

Bridal Veil Falls - Chimanimani

Surrounding places of interest include Tessa’s Pools and Bridal Veil Falls , whilst Chimanimani also offers some of the best mountain walking anywhere in the world.”

I hate to say it, but we’re getting soft in this country. Politics and social issues do not feature as much as they should; protest creativity isn’t really fitting when we’re celebrating and hob-nobbing at multi-million Rand events such as this last weekends SAMA’s in Sun City. That while artists, and the average person, right next door, are still suffering. We still have much to learn.

This video clip Why Women Count – Zimbabwe features Dudu Manhenga with her message, her protest, and plea for for a better world. And what better message to give, than that which is your own.

The full Chimanimani Festival program, as well as information on previous festivals and more general info about Chimanimani can be found on the website – http://www.chimanimani.com – with ongoing updates as the opening approaches.

For any other information contact sparx@thulani.net.

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2 Responses to “Zimbabwean music continues despite odds”

  1. The festival sounds lovely. Enjoy. Wish I were there to join in the festivities. Next year.

  2. Rouvanne Says:

    Hey KB – I’d also love to get up there some time – a real back-to-basics experience. And you have to admire the organisers, and all the artists, for pulling it off against all the odds…

    Keep yourself well!

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