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Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Family Voices' Got Talent

The accapella singing sensation Family Voices walked away with the first prize at the inaugural Bulawayo’s Got Talent finals held at the Bulawayo Theatre last Friday. The all male singing group sent both the crowd and the judges into wild ecstatic ruptures with their vocal talents. However, the group didn’t get it easy as Break Equation, a talented dance outfit that fuses contemporary dance with gymnastics, N.G.E, a hip hop artist and Langelihle Arts, from Nketa High and whose act could also have given the likes of Iyasa a good run for their money, could also have taken the prize with easy. The variety talent show, Bulawayo’s Got Talent, is an Intwasa Arts Festival koBulawayo initiative aimed at discovering and developing talent among the youth. The activities were also meant as audience building exercises in preparation for the one week festival in September.


The talent was there – visible, raw, promising and waiting to be taken to another level. All the 12 acts that were part of the final act proved beyond doubt why they had advanced to the final. Most of the acts came to the finals with new and improved pieces. Their performances were top drawer acts that kept the audiences screaming the whole afternoon. And for Family Voices the extra work paid off with a winners’ cheque. Family Voices’ act was tighter than their semi final act and it was no surprise when Zenzo Nyathi, the hilarious and able master of ceremony for the day, opened the white envelop and screamed the winner’s name – his scream was echoed by the audience. The audiences themselves did not disappoint. They came in their numbers. For the first time an Intwasa event had a mixed audience! There were the young and the old. White, coloured and black. Men and women. It was indeed a colourful mixed audience that sought to reinforce this year festival theme: Art Without Boundaries.

The finals were also graced by the poet Sypho and Friends who gave a splendid rendition of their poems. Siyaya Arts sent the crowds into a frenzy with several of their polished acts. The crowds, in true concert spirits, sang along Siyaya’s version of Tuku’s I was born in the Ghetto.

Watch out for coming activities on this blog and other spaces. June activities include a photography workshop, a drama teachers workshop and a month end performance.

Role of Institutions in Arts Development


Municipalities, towns and universities world over have become famous due to different kinds of cultural festivals they sponsor and host. These festivals go on to attract artists and audiences from the breath and length of the globe. This is done as a means of promoting the city’s culture, cultural diversity and helps preserve the city’s cultural trends and develops the creative spirit among its cultural activists. Universities create platforms to expose the talent they are nurturing through sponsoring festivals and conferences that are aimed at enriching the arts and culture industry. Cities have an extra mile of building facilities for such cultural activities that are also availed to the development of the arts by local practitioners and performers.

The development of the arts in Zimbabwe will only effective when academics that do research on cultural and artistic trends of Africa from an African perspective begin to publish their research findings for the young generation to read, learn and develop as part of a cultural and artistic trend that has made them who they are. Most reference books used in colleges and universities are books written by non-Africans. This in most cases did not understand the cultural, ritualistic trends of African life and theatre which to them was barbaric and outdated. My point in this is that our own universities have shelves full of research projects that can be of use to young people doing their studies in the cultural and arts sector. The University of Zimbabwe’s Department of Theatre Arts has been churning out graduates who have done researches ranging from dance, rituals, theatre, theatre for development, stagecraft that can be of use and more applicable to undergraduates in the same department in other teething university departments. There are other researches that were done by Master of Philosophy students that in my own opinion are of great importance to the cultural and artistic industry.

My point in this is that if we look at leading universities in Africa and the world over are the leaders in publishing such works so that it is readily available to everyone who might need to use it. Most of the reference books used by students at colleges and universities are publications by other universities. Our own talented and intelligent people have left our universities to publish their works with other universities because our own universities have no capacity or can not publish their work but can only keep it in its departmental libraries as dissertations and thesis. Our departments of Theatre Arts at the University of Zimbabwe, Midlands State University, Great Zimbabwe University and the newly created one at Lupane State University should strive to create such platforms if ever, these institutions are serious with developing the arts in Zimbabwe.

Secondly, cultural and artistic conferences that have gone to make definite marks in the artistic and cultural industry have been hosted and funded by universities. These universities have even gone a step further in creating partnerships that have continued to create environments for research, workshops and practical work towards the development of the arts. The University of Zimbabwe used to have a theatre week that was very pivotal in exposing talent and creating an environment for discourse and dialogue. But what happened to it? The Great Zimbabwe University has its own festival that seeks to enable research, discussion as well as the practical application in the arts industry. But in all fairness, this is not enough. This is the major reason why most graduates from these Department of Theatre Arts divert to teaching because in their training and practical grounding they never had a chance to get exposure and break to the professional platform. There is need for our universities to do more, especially the Departments responsible for theatre arts and cultural development.

The arts and cultural sector is a participatory, practical and experiential industry where activists spend much time doing practical workshops and developing their creative works. These workshops form a crucial stage in the development of scripts for plays, dance dramas and television programs. Many professional theatre practitioners have become prominent because they documented their creative works and later published for public consumption. Talk of Wole Soyinka and Athol Fugard.  If the creative process followed by Tumbuka Dance group is documented, it would create a long lasting legacy beyond Mathius Julius and Gilbert Douglas and provide alternative creative avenues for upcoming ballet groups and dancers. If the rehearsal process and scriptwriting workshops of the first year students are documented, the creative, mind blowing scripts would not be lost just after the students have earned their marks. This destroys continuity in the development of the young creative students during their stay at the university. Documentation is vital.

Successful and festivals that have grown from strength to strength are those that are mothered and nurtured by their mother cities and towns. Talk of the just ended Port Elizabeth Festival, the Edinburg Festival, Grahamstown Festival just to mention a few. These festivals have grown to become major calendar events in the cultural and artistic industry and put their mother cities on the limelight. Our own cities should take the major lead in the preparation, mobilization of resources and availing spaces as well exploring their twining arrangements with other cities for the development of the cultural and artistic sector. The Harare City Council should do even more than availing the Harare Gardens to HIFA. It should be the major driving seat in the mobilization of resources, negotiation with Zimra, getting clearances for artists among other things. It is Harare as a city that has the star shining bright on when HIFA surpasses expectations. It is Harare as a people that feast on the diverse and engaging productions that show at HIFA. It is Harare as a host city that everyone talks about when they talk about HIFA. I guess that’s why it is called Harare International Festival of Arts.

The same goes for the City of Bulawayo. Intwasa Arts Festival of Arts koBulawayo should be treated as their baby to nurse, grow and nurture. It is Bulawayo and its scenic surroundings that people will go on for years talking about because of the festival. It is the welcoming and friendliness of the people of Bulawayo that visitors will talk about in their way back home. It is therefore Bulawayo as a city that benefits much. It is our expectation as cultural activists based in Bulawayo that the city council should be seen in the driving seat in the promotion, support and growth of Intwasa. The city of Bulawayo is regarded as the cultural capital of Zimbabwe because of the work that the city council has done in developing the arts and cultural sector. Most influential artists such as Victor Kunonga, Albert Nyathi, Dudu Manhenga and Lovemore Majaivana are proud products of Bulawayo as a city. It is this legacy that Intwasa Arts Festival koBulawayo seeks to preserve and maintain, thus calls for the involvement of the city fathers.

In conclusion, institutions such as universities and town councils should play a leading role in the development of the arts. The towns/ city councils are the major areas with a high unemployment rate with the youths taking the major percentage of this unemployed group. Young people have proved to be artistic, thus, city councils will be creating more opportunities of employment through supporting the arts and cultural sector. Thus, a need to support the arts and cultural sector. Universities should put in place mechanisms that enable local publication of research works which can be made available to the artists locally. Let the Bulawayo City Council lead the pack this year as they support Intwasa Arts Festival KoBulawayo. This is a challenge to you our City Fathers.

 Nkululeko Sibanda

Friday, 20 May 2011

Treasure Readings

Well, I have been with Intwasa Arts Festival koBulawayo in the literary arts committee since the inception, and proudly so. I feel honored to make a post on this new lovely blog.
I have seen the festival grow bit by bit, stuttering here and there, flaring there, just as one would watch a new concept growing wings.
I have seen it carrying the hopes of all the artists of Bulawayo, that now yes finally there is a local festival in the city that will symbolize the importance of their work, and also give them the confidence to persevere in their calling, as well as open a window of opportunity to the global stage.
I also proudly launched my novel Many Rivers at Intwasa 2009.  I have also read at various Intwasa book reading - the point I am trying to make here is that my participation at Intwasa is also part of my ever growing curriculum vitae in the literary arts.
Intwasa has been part of my CV for the two writing fellowships I have been involved in for the past two years, the one in Los Angeles in 2010 where I was guest writer for 10 months at Villa Aurora, and the current one where I am the Nordic Africa Institute 2011 Guest writer in the charming city of Uppsala in Sweden.

As of this date, in this current residence, I have so far featured in five literary events.  I have read twice at the Uppsala Library, I have held a talk at Stockholm University, another one at the City Theater in Uppsala, and then another talk and reading in Berlin, Germany.
At the end of May I am attending book events in Norway and Finland, all part of my fellowship in the Nordic Countries, where I hope to promote my work and also myself as a writer.  I will write about those events when I am from there.
I have written much about Uppsala City in my Sunday News column, the city where I have my base in Sweden, but for this post I will write about my reading in Berlin.
I read there on the 10th of May, at the Literature House, where I read from my novel in progress, which is still untitled. The reading room was packed, and some of the audience had to stand.  I read for a record 15 minutes to an enthralled audience from one text, and then also read two poems, and another excerpt from my other unpublished novel which I completed last year in the USA and titled AUTUMN LEAVES, from which I read just one page. And then after the readings came question time, which all went well.
I must also add that in the past two years I have been reading on international platforms, I have learnt one crucial thing.  It is important to rehearse your text before you go for the reading so that you get used to the words in it and also the emotions.  You can also be able to plan how you can pace yourself.  There is nothing as embarrassing as stammering during a reading.  And the audiences also expect some professionalism, audiences regard a public reading as an act – the writer assumes the role of an actor, and they expect to enjoy the listening, just as we enjoy listening to a good storyteller.
It is always disappointing to see the tiny audiences that come to readings in Zimbabwe.  And so now how can we cultivate our own people to appreciate book readings? That is the big challenge that festivals like Intwasa are there to address.

And lastly bantu bakithi, please do not embarrass me – if I can draw a full house at a reading in Germany, thousands of miles away from home, then I must draw more in Bulawayo. Don’t make me read to empty venues. 
Christopher Mlalazi
Mlalazi will be reading from his collection of stories and presenting his Visualizing Bulawayo project at Intwasa 2011. Make a date with him

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

A festival must be defined by its Audiences

There are more than two dozen arts festivals in Zimbabwe. Each province and city has a festival or two of its own. Harare and Bulawayo, by virtue of their size, host more than two festivals per year. This article shall focus on Bulawayo festivals, particularly Intwasa Arts Festival koBulawayo, because of its claim to be the second largest arts gathering in Zimbabwe. A claim that, honestly, is not far from the truth.

The city of Bulawayo has had festivals, and festivals. The city has hosted single day festivals. Two day festivals. One week festivals. One or two festivals that have gone on for more than a week. And with each festival the citizens and residents of Bulawayo have responded differently. The community’s response to these events has depended largely on how they have been pitched to the residents. This response has tended to be decisive. In most cases it has acted as the final judgment on whether a festival survives or dies.

Once, Bulawayo had Linkfest whose main objective was to link local artistes with others artistes from the region, especially those from the SADC region. Linkfest had Macdonald Hall in Mzilikazi township as its centre of activity and for a whole week the festival had sizeable paying audiences flocking to the venue every evening to watch theatre, dance, and imbube performances. It was during this time that the likes of Small Ndaba and his D.E.T Boys High play, Bongani Linda and his Victory Siyanqoba ensemble (both from South Africa) and Kanyama Theatre from Zambia mesmerized audiences with their performances.  Those days will always remain etched in some of our minds.
Linkfest had an audience it could call its own. An audience it could rely on. It was a festival that had been accepted warmly by the city, especially people from Makokoba, Nguboyenja, Mzilikazi  and Bourberfields who truly believed it was their event.

After Linkfest came Inxusa Festival run by Amakhosi Theatre. Inxusa had Stanley Hall as its base. This was before it moved to the Cultural Centre along Victoria Falls Road. However, for most of us the memorable days of Inxusa will always be the days when it was based at Stanley Hall. Inxusa came at a time when Amakhosi was at the peak of their game. This was when you couldn’t talk about theatre in this country and leave Amakhosi out. These were the days of the musically inspired Stitsha, the hard hitting Dabulap, the hilarious Nansi le Ndoda, and JazzmenThe story of my wife. Those of us who remember this period will also remember that Amakhosi then commanded a strong following. A loyal and paying audience. People drove from as far as Gwanda, Gweru, and Plumtree for Inxusa or any Amakhosi performance. The support was there as many people believed they were part and parcel of whatever Amakhosi was trying to create or say.
Then there was Enkundleni Festival, a brainchild of Black Umfolosi. This festival was not as successful as the other two mentioned above. This one quickly fizzled out. Enkundleni was launched in Entumbane and died quietly there. Maybe it was not properly sold to the people or maybe it was rushed. Whatever it was Enkundleni did not make an impression as a lot of our artistes don’t even remember it. Now as I write Bulawayo has two important Arts Festivals to talk about. The two are Siyaya Arts’ Ibumba Festival and Intwasa Arts Festival koBulawayo. But as said before this article is more about Intwasa.
This year Intwasa will be celebrating 7 years on the road. The years have been long and tumultuous. Seven years of experimentation characterized by painful teething problems. This is the year for the festival to consolidate its position as a premier event and the second largest arts gathering in Zimbabwe. The only way to consolidate its position is to attract a sizeable and dependable audience. I say so because the success of any festival is always defined by its audiences.
It is unfortunate that after several years on the road the community of Bulawayo has still to make up its mind about whether to support Intwasa or not. Ultimately, the survival of the festival depends on that decision. Any festival’s survival is dependent upon how well the local community comes out to support it. Audiences from other provinces, cities and from other countries will only become interested when the festival grows in stature. A good reputation always sells a festival beyond a prescribed border or boundary. Before Intwasa or any other local festival can claim international status it must first prove itself among local people. For the roots of any international festival are deeply entrenched in the local people and local infrastructure.

Here are some reasons why the Bulawayo community must support the festival:
·      The fact that the festival’s name is suffixed with the phrase ko Bulawayo is not accidental. Here is an event that yearns to be identified with Bulawayo. The city is meant to host the celebrations, and in playing host the city and its people must open their doors and hearts wide open and let the festive mood filter into their homes and beings.
·      Once the festival begins to attract cultural tourists the benefits to the city and its people will be substantial.
·      Bulawayo has always been called the cultural capital of Zimbabwe. A well supported Intwasa can only help boost the image of Bulawayo as the unofficial cultural capital of Zimbabwe.
·      A successful Intwasa will not only boost the image of the city internationally but will also see the growth of our arts institutions and the proper employment of local artistes.
·      If Intwasa grows there will be numerous spill offs to other sectors.
To be or not to be part of Intwasa? That is the question I leave you with. Let the build-up begin.    

by Raisedon Baya

12 Acts make it to the finals

Bulawayo’s Got Talent is a project of Intwasa Arts Festival koBulawayo. The show is designed to identified and groom new and exciting talent. It is one of the build up shows towards the 7 day September event. The inaugural edition of the competition attracted about 28 acts. The acts were different, ranging from comedy, hip hop, poetry, dance and music. The show was a window into the soul of Bulawayo’s arts sector. It was a testimony that there is talent in the city. Talent that seriously needs supporting and nurturing. Out of the 28 acts that went on stage only 12 acts were chosen to progress to the finals which will be held on the 28th of May 2011. The finals will be held at Bulawayo Theatre. The same venue that was used for the finals.

Though the show considered with the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair and particularly the Bricks and Winky D show organised by Coca Cola Bulawayo’s Got Talent managed to attract a sizeable audience to the theatre. Among the audience were notable personalities like Cont Mhlanga,  Sarah Mpofu – Sibanda, Zenzo Nyathi and Idols winner Eric Moyo. Their presence was encouraging to the contestants and the organisers.

Some of the acts were so polished that they left everyone asking for more. And because of the beauty and energy of the 12 acts going to the final the director of Intwasa announced that these 12 acts will definitely be part of the official opening act of the festival. “The reason for us to have the show was to identify new, fresh and hungry talent. Some of the acts were just that and that is why we are saying after the finals we are going to find a seasoned choreographer and director polish the acts in preparation for the festival in September.

Some of the 12 acts that progressed to the finals are Family Voices, H2 from Eveline Girls High, Bhekimpilo, Street Lakers, Mayibongwe Nyathi, Khoi – Khoi and Crew, Langelihle Arts from Nketa High School, Break Equation, Black Sheep, and X –Cell

As organisers we are hoping that people will come in their numbers to support the 12 contestants during the final. The final will be at Bulawayo Theatre on the 28th of May 2011.

Intwasa Short Story Competition 2011

The Competition is an annual literary event seeking to promote original creative writing talent in both English and Isindebele. There re two awards and these are:  The Yvonne Vera Award for best story in English and The N. S. Sigogo for best story in Isindebele.  A junior section of the competition, open to all high school students, will see winning stories get $200 per category.   
- There is no particular theme
- Entries must be written in English or in Isindebele
- Entries should be previously unpublished
- Only one entry per person in each language
- All work must be original
- Entries must be typed.
- Maximum words are 3000 words for adults and 1500 for juniors.
- The competition is open to all Zimbabwe citizens and residents
- Entries must be submitted by June 15, 2011
- Late entries will not be accepted
- Only the short-listed candidates will be personally notified 
Send stories to Intwasa Short Story Competition, Office 403, 4th Floor, Lapf House, Bulawayo or or

Intwasa Arts Festival here we come!

The schools program is targeted at more than 80 schools (both primary and high schools) in and around Bulawayo. Teachers and students are expected to actively participate in festival activities that include performances, workshops, debates, lectures, and as audiences.

Several workshops are lined up for teachers and students during Intwasa with visiting artistes expected to facilitate some of the workshops. The workshops include theatre games, storytelling, acting, dancing, drumming and directing.

The Contemporary Affairs Foundation, in partnership with Intwasa will run a debate competition whose finals shall be held during the festival week.

The Power in the Voice poetry competition is back. This is a performance poetry competition for high school students.

Short Story Competition
An open themed writing competition open to high school students with two winning stories walking away with $200 each. Writers can submit stories in English or Isindebele.  

High Schools Drama Competition
The competition is open to all schools and encourages creativity, diversity, and free expression.  Only stories focusing on young people and children are eligible for this competition. 

 These high quality performances will be hosted by Intwasa and are target for schools audiences:

The Lion and the Jewel. This timeless classic was written by Africa’s legendary playwright Wole Soyinka. A highly entertaining piece that is now an O’level setbook.

A doll’s house is a story about love, friendship, marriage, loyalty, betrayal and blackmail, and centres around Nora’s odyssey of self-discovery. Henrik Ibsen’s famous play is now an A’level setbook.

The Most Wonderful of Things . This is an adaptation of Ibsen’s A doll’s house. This Zimbabwean version of Ibsen’s by veteran playwright and Chipawo founder Stephen J. Chifunyise is performed by CHIPAWO’s New Horizon Theatre

KolobejaStories from different childhoods. A presentation of folk stories from both Zimbabwe and Czech Republic performed by Nhimbe SPAA and supported by the Czech Republic.

Enquire or make bookings at the Intwasa.on 09 -63928 or

“Art Without Boundaries”