Art & Advocacy in Zimbabwe

Mbizo Chirasha has expressed satisfaction with the recent Zimbabwe poetry festival. In an email, Chirasha shared information about future plans for similar events, one of which can happen as soon February 2008. What was obvious at the December 10-12 festival, he added, was the hunger for the arts that the participants showed. He also expressed his gratitude for the participation of distinguished speakers. One in particular, the Australia-born Celia Winter Irving, presented a paper entitled “The Arts As a Tool for Advocacy in Zimbabwe”.

In this paper Irving argues that artists in Zimbabwe “have a strong relationship with society, taking their bearings from their local community.” So, it seems, talk of an artist being a loner and not caring so much about what the society thinks would not stand a chance here. The issue of social responsibility appears in different art forms.

In a bold statement, Winter Irving states, “Today because of the situation (in Zimbabwe), artists have no time for dreams and schemes; they want results.” Irving works with artists as a consultant at the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe, a position which often involves travelling to all provinces of Zimbabwe to work with artists ranging from poets, sculptors, actors, singers and others. Her essay catalogues these experiences and makes a case about how art is a form of advocacy.

The full text of the paper may appear under the Essays section of Munyori Poetry Journal


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