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July 27, 2017

Solar energy comes to the rescue of jazz musician

Filed under: Arts,Feature,Renewable Energy — Nhaudzenyu @ 11:58 am
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By Nhau Mangirazi

Twenty-two year  old Moses Munatsa is an upcoming jazz musician based in Caledonia Phase 10 about 20 kilometres east of Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare.

“It used to be a challenge as I had to travel into town or visit relatives in Mabvuku where there is electricity to do my recordings over the phone. To date, I have done over 50 songs (that are) yet to be recorded officially.  I normally use my smartphone for that and the battery does not last long,” he says.

As is the case with  several youths and women resettled in Ward 25 Caledonia in Harare East, Munatsa faced challenges in accessing better facilities including electricity.

However, he now smiles in the comfort of their three-roomed house where he is recording his songs with ease and without thinking of transport fares into the city centre or visiting relatives to access electricity.

Caledonia currently faces an identity crisis with Harare East Member of Parliament Terrence Mukupe claiming it is within his jurisdiction while the local councillor Dereck Malifundi, reports to Goromonzi Rural District Council within Goromonzi South Constituency represented by Member of Parliament Petronella Kagonye.

“We currently do not have electricity here but we are using small solar powered panels to access radio (signals) as well as charging our phones. With that, I am recording my music on my phone regularly without any challenges,” he says.

Those resettled in Caledonia since 2000, have not benefited from the electrification programme.

‘We have seen the poles and wires that were installed but nothing has been done to bring power into our homes. We are getting  … alternative (energy) through small solar panels that we use as clean energy for lights, radio and charging our phones,” said a local teacher.

Thirty-three year old Gladys Banda of Phase 3, admits that lack of electricity has been a challenge for many people here.

“The majority of us had no homes of our own in the city centre. We needed a roof over our heads and we hoped that electricity would soon be connected in our area,” says Banda, a mother of three.

Councilor Malifundi agrees the ward is still developing and faces many challenges in the form of roads, clinics and schools, among others.

‘We hope things will move according to our plans. We are aware of the electricity challenges, but better days are coming,” he said without shedding much light on future plans.

Meanwhile, Kagonye admits the ward faces numerous challenges since it emerged as an unplanned settlement. The ward started off with nearly 5,000 stands in 2000. The figure has since risen to 54,000 stands and an estimated population of 100 000.

‘There has never been infrastructure provision including that of water and electricity. We have a high concentration of people … including a co-operative of the physically challenged with more than 250 members.

“As a result, women suffer more as fuel wood is no longer readily accessible. Generally, use of solar powered small panels has been the solution in most homes for lighting and charging mobile phones,” she said.

Kagonye said the community should embrace renewable energy alternatives such as solar and biogas.  This would be a better solution than having to wait to be connected to the national grid which is already struggling to service connected areas.

Munyaradzi Kaundikiza, an environmentalist, said energy is the key input in the socio-economic growth of communities and the nation at large. He said there is a close link between availability of energy and the growth of a nation.

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April 24, 2017

Tonga arts centre abandoned

Filed under: Arts,Feature,Travel — Nhaudzenyu @ 10:14 am
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Bumi Hills Arts and Craft Centre was a ray of hope for mostly Tonga villagers, who had an opportunity to showcase their craftsmanship to the world.

By Nhau Mangirazi

The abandoned Bumi Hills Arts and Craft Centre

Established in 1995, the project was aimed at economically empowering the rural folk, while also promoting Tonga arts and crafts.

The centre, which was established by Nyaminyami Rural District Council, sold beads, dagga pots and grass crafts to mostly tourists, who used to visit the internationally-acclaimed Bumi Hills Hotel.

Situated about 300 meters from the hotel, the arts and craft centre was well-furnished with art for visitors from the community, who overworked themselves for classic products.

But the centre is now in ruins, 22 years down the line, with buildings collapsing with the hanging poles of the grass-thatched roof burnt by veld fires some few years ago.

There is no longer a caretaker for the premises now in thick forest.

The place is now an eyesore after the local council abandoned the project, claiming it was now a burden that they could not shoulder for too long.

“It was a council project aimed at empowering the communities in arts and craftsmanship. The council used to sell the products and remit the funds to the owners monthly,’’ a council worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.

Villagers under Chiefs Mola, Nebiri and Negande relied on proceeds from the sale of their artefacts to pay for school fees for their children.

As fate had it, the political and economical crisis in late 1990s forced the centre to shut down after only four years in operation throwing hundreds of villagers back into destitution, as it had become a source of livelihood for them.

“We used to pay fees for our children through funds raised through the sales of artefacts from here. Although the sales were minimal, as there were many members, it was a promising outreach project for us.

“It was a form of employment, where our art was being recognized internationally by tourists, who would find markets for our products. It is sad that the council resolved to close it, saying it was no longer viable,’’ Petros Kasanga, a local villager under Chief Mola, said.

Former council chairman, Washington Moyo, admitted that the local authority had to wean off the project, as it was not its core business and was becoming costly to run.

“As council, we were being forced to assist communities get their profits, but it was not part of our core business. Our mandate was to see it off, but the communities had no resources to keep it running and this affected its operations. It’s unfortunate we could not train them how to run the project on their own,’’ Moyo, a businessman in the Mola area, said.

However, the closure has negatively affected many parents, who can no longer afford to send their children to school.

“Generally, some people blame the Tongas for not valuing education, but without a source of income, where do you expect them to get money to pay school fees? There are no income-generating projects or industries to talk about here, but we need cash to survive. It is pathetic as our source of hope was dashed by the council several years ago,’’ a local teacher, who refused to be named, said.

The teacher at Marembera Primary School, who cannot be named for professional reasons, said that the project was inspirational to many locals, who could appreciate how art and culture could be a beneficiary to the community.

Newly-appointed Nyaminyami Rural District Council chief executive officer, Tsana Chirau, said she was still to acclimatise herself with projects in the area.

“I am just new in office and I need time to be abreast on council projects, including pending issues and income generating that the community was benefiting from,” she said.

The art and craft centre was also a foreign currency generation project and helped boost tourism in the country. Newsday

August 6, 2015

Zim-Canada Cultural Center host international swimmer

Filed under: Arts — Nhaudzenyu @ 1:58 pm
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By Nhau Mangirazi
Mill Bay Beach- A center that advocates for cultural exchanges between Canada and Zimbabwe hosted international swimmer on 5 August in its bid to keep their dreams alive.

Amy with Japhet Matamba, Felix Svova-and Bigboy Kagande playing mbira during their tour for a duet with Icon Theater-Production in Magunje Zimbabwe....Photo By Nhau Mangirazi.

In a press statement released to the press, Mbira Spirits says Matamba Cultural Arts and Education Centres, Vancouver Island and Zimbabwe said they hosted International long distance swimmer, Renate Herberger, from Tseycum beach accompanied by Tseycum support boats on 5 August in memory of her son, Silvan, who was a Capoeirista artist.

”This is part of support for the Matamba’s cultural exchanges and centers. Promoting arts and culture, preserving heritage and tradition and taking pride in our community.”

”We are preparing for cultural exchanges to Zimbabwe, starting in November, and will also be hosting a Cultural Arts and Education Festival on the weekend of September 12, 2015.” the statement noted.

Icon Theatre Production members during video shooting in Magunje..Photo By Nhau Mangirazi

Icon Theatre Production members during video shooting in Magunje..Photo By Nhau Mangirazi

Renate returned recently from her 8th international long distance activist series of swims for Marine Sanctuaries.

She has now swum over 7200 km in 8 seasons that included, a first ever swim around the island of Cozumel in January 2015, and 5 swims along the Baja Peninsula from LaPaz to Cabo San Lucas, including several islands.

Tafadzwa, Amy and Japhet Matamba during video shooting in Magunje... Photo By Nhau Mangirazi

Tafadzwa, Amy and Japhet Matamba during video shooting in Magunje… Photo By Nhau Mangirazi

Renate has also completed 7 swims along the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica from the Panama to the Nicaragua border between 2008 and 2014 and swam around the Island of Barbados in 2011. Renate holds the unofficial world record for consecutive long distance swims in the open ocean.

On the day, it was in honour of Renate’s son Silvan, a world class athlete who tragically passed away January 10, 2012.

On August 5, 2011 he was Renate’s principal kayak support on her first swim along the Saanich Inlet, from Brentwood Ferry Dock to Chalet Beach, 22 km in 9 hours.

Silvan expressed the Brazilian side of his family background by becoming an incredible Capoeirista. He performed all over Brazil and Canada. People always in amazement when they saw him fly in a salto mortale on stage.

He seemed to defy gravity in his acrobatics and he he had taught many many children before his untimely and tragic passing at age 23.

Mbira Spirits duo of Amy and Tafadzwa Matamba were in the country in May for a duet video shooting with Zimbabwean traditional dance group Icon Theater Production who performed at Malawi’s Easter Festival where nearly 90 groups from Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe showcased their talent.

April 4, 2015

Icon stun theatre lovers in Malawi

Filed under: Arts — Nhaudzenyu @ 8:03 pm
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Icon Theatre on stage during Easter Arts Festival in BlantyreBy Nhau Mangirazi in Blantyre, Malawi
Karoi based Icon Theater Production left a mark during the ongoing Solomonic Easter Arts Festival when they performed in first international arts fiesta here on Saturday afternoon.
The thirteen member group formed in 2007 specializes in traditional dance including dinhe, chinyamusasure, mbakumba, mbende, Jerusarema among others fused with mbira.
They left the audience asking for more when they put a polished act with their dancers.
Icon theatre is a youthful side led by Leo Funwell Magada and had the backing of elders during their tour that included Japhet Matamba, Felix Svova and Bigboy Kagande on mbira while James Kamhaka was on drums.
Part of the crowd was taken aback following the slow rhythms of Chipembere song before the dancers Nomsa Beremauro, Juliet Mashayanyika, Roberta Katurira and Julia Moffat came to give a superb act during Chemutengure song.
Later on Danny Bwanya, Last Mapiye and Tinotenda Daki came as they performed during Jerusarema act.
Local Floor Steppers warmed up the crowd before drama by Chango Traveling Theater who performed Tax Abortion play that highlights how international companies evade paying taxes while exploiting on the poor African countries.
The sarcastically play exposes how investors milk poor African nations where the politically connected benefit while the majority suffers.
Solominic Peacock director MacArthur Matukuta said he was happy that the local audience had shown confidence in regional festival.
The festival kicked off in Lilongwe on Friday before it was switched to Blantyre where it will run till Monday
‘’I am happy that regional integration must not be political but arts is a form of employment for us all. The performance by several groups from Zimbabwe, Zambia and many parts of Malawi is an indication that we can do more to preserve our culture and traditional values’’ said Matukuta.
Magada said he is happy that they performed to an international audience.

‘’Traditional dance and mbira is part of Zimbabwean culture and identity. We are happy that we are making strides to market Zimbabwean traditional act to the outside world’’ said Magada.
At least 90 traditional groups, poets, comedians from Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe will battle it out during the three day fiesta.

April 2, 2015

Icon Theater in Malawi for Easter festival

Filed under: Arts — Nhaudzenyu @ 3:57 pm
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From Nhau Mangirazi in MALAWI

BLANTYRE– Karoi based traditional dance group Icon Theatre production are in Blantyre, Malawi where they will perform during Easter festival here on Saturday.

Solomonic Arts Festival kick starts on Friday in Lilongwe before it is switched to Blantyre on Saturday till Monday.

The traditional dance group will represent the nation during the festival that takes place in two major cities from April 3-6.

Dance groups, comedians, poets, drama artist from Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi will battle to showcase their talents during the arts fiesta.

Icon Theater will battle it out with Village Cultural Troupe as well as Kwathu drama group on Saturday.

Malawi’s Izeki ndiJakohbo will face Zambia’s Bikiloni ndiFikoti while Mr. Jokes and Zimbabwean Clive Chigubu perform in Lilongwe on Friday and Monday in Blantyre.

Solominic Peacock director MacArthur Matukuta said the festival was being done in two cities due public demand.

‘’We could have done all this in Blantyre but due to public demand we are also hosting it in Lilongwe and we hope the performing artists will deliver. We are happy that Zimbabwean group are already here’, Matukuta said.

He added at least 90 local and international groups and individuals will showcase their talents during the festival.

Icon Theatre leader Leo Funny Magada said he was happy that they will showcase different dances from Zimbabwe to an international audience.

‘’I am grateful that we are performing and hope this will mark our entrance on the international arena’’, said Magada.

He is leading a fourteen member group including 10 men and four women.

‘’We are happy that at least we are here to perform and represent the country besides financial challenges’’ said Magada during their rehearsal on Thursday.

Icon Theatre Production performed during last year’s Hurungwe Arts Festival though no funder came on board besides pledges made by some businessmen and organisations locally and nationally.

November 19, 2014

 Uncle Richie ready for Hurungwe Arts Festival

Filed under: Arts — Nhaudzenyu @ 9:52 am
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Uncle Richie

Uncle Richie of Unotoshaya kuti zviri kumbofamba sei comedy will be in Karoi on 28 November for Hurungwe Arts Festival

By Nhau Mangirazi
KAROI-The man who took a cue that laughter is best medicine and made his name locally and internationally, Uncle Richie is among participants billed to perform at the forthcoming Hurungwe Arts Festival.
The fiesta is set on 28-29 November 2014 and will bring hope for many of Zimbabweans though his humorous acts.
He started off a comic audio that is literally ‘’killing stress’’ from depressed Zimbabweans locally and internationally.
Richard Mike Matimba is a man of the moment ‘’striking gold’’ with his sweet voice as Uncle Richie.
He has made his name hitting a 43 000 mark on social media Face-book and its still growing.

The popular Uncle Richie of Unotoshaya kuti zviri kumbofamba sei audio clips is a music teacher who until recently was at Dominican convent junior and high school.
He went commercial on 23 January this year after successfully marketing his comedy throughout the world within a short space of time Unotoshaya kuti zviri kumbofamba sei brand when the first audio was sent via Whatsapp and various activities have taken place.

Currently, he is working with over 30 companies where he does adverts on comedy or presentations.
He has been involved in raising funds for the Tokwe- Mukosi flood victims, Simuka Comedy, Simba the Comic King, Tourism Carnival, Art Exhibition, Moonlight Carnival, Kuwadzana AFM Assembly comedy, Zimbabwe Coalition Crisis with 121 representatives, Buy Local Zimbabwe. Pakare Paye Comedy show, Simuka comedy show for BBC coverage among others.
Uncle Richie is now Green Ambassador for Environmental Management Agency.

Although he had been invited to go to United Kingdom, he suffered a setback when his passport was stolen before he could get a visa but Hurungwe will host him without any challenges.

The man of the moment to bring laughter as best medicine has had interviews with Voice of America, Africa Radio Show from Canada, Nehanda Radio based in United Kingdom, BBC radio, promotion for Zimonline Radio.

Uncle Richie has done for all local radio stations under Zimbabwe Broadcasting Cooperation stable.
He has done several adverts for all networks including Net-One, Telecel and Econet and currently being fine-tuned by his Ireland based manager.

His ringtones are now uploaded Econet’s buddies’ beatz.

Uncle Richie confirmed that he will perform at Hurungwe Arts Festival on 28-29 November 2014 as part of social and cultural performance in Karoi town, situated 204 kilometers north-west of Harare.

He has had songs with South African based Mxolisi Ndlovu and other producers.

Uncle Richie is working to produce all audio clips of Unotoshaya kuti zviri kumbofamba sei that is now a brand on its own.
Hurungwe Arts Festival got part of their financial support from Culture Fund and will host local bands, theatre groups, poetry, and traditional dance from local schools and artists from Harare, Bulawayo, Chinhoyi, Masvingo and Mutare among others.

Baptism of Fire, BOF communications director Skumbuzo Sibanda says, ‘’The festival is the first of its kind in Mashonaland West province and Hurungwe is taking the lead. We are inviting many people for the festival that will be for free as part of cultural and arts program’’

Nqobile Malinga, an award winning journalist, multi-lingual poet is among others who have agreed to perform during the event.

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