‘A Gathering’

The writer was so nostalgic when he received an invitation to attend the official opening of “a gathering” from the National Gallery of Zimbabwe.

What is the “gathering” all about?, among other questions remained lingering in the mind of this scribe as the day progressed nearing the event time.

“Between the artist and viewer, curator and viewer, and between the works of art themselves. It clicks when an exhibition feels like it has answered some questions, and raised even more”,Thelma Golden aptly put it.

Having attended the “gathering”, Golden’s words started to make sense, as the writer thought he understood that the gathering was all about the launch of exceptional art from Misheck Masamvu, Georgina, Dareth Nyandoro and various others.

After a deep reflection on the art, the scribe had no objectionable doubt that though it was a “gathering”, but only a gathering of an uncompleted puzzle as the exhibition created more questions than it explained. Thelma Golden, was absolutely correct in the quote above.

“Art is no longer expensive like it used to be, as it used to invovle purchasing of expensive canvas, brushes and paint but now art can be made through available material that can not be for sale”, Pikirayi Deketeke the guest of honour said.

Art is no longer a preserve for the elites and the rich alone, but it is all encompassing as it now solely depends on the creativeness of the person behind the art.

Yesteryear art was premised on sculpture and canvass but art being dynamic, art can now be done through found objects as exihibited and it is also encampassing across social strata.

The guest of honour paid tribute to Dr Solomon Guramatunhu who was in attendance for being the most collector of Zimbabwean art.

Deketeke went on to urge Zimbabweans to be collectors of art by Zimbabweans as it helps the industry grow.

The rare talent exhibition probably out of this world, is too enormous task for the one writing this, to reduce the representation of art into words.

If it was possible, it only requires another work of art, the artist and the curator to describe their art for the readers of this epistle to comphrehand the talent behind the art.

Nina Baldwin an artist parexcellence states that, “art touches the soul… art is communication… it reaches out from the canvas and passes through the eyes of the viewer right into his heart where it can leave an imprint of beauty that can make the spirit sing”.

The work of art at the Zimbabwe National Gallery exhibited starting yesterday, besides making the spirit sing, it edifies the soul and the imprint will remain eternally engraved in all corners of the hearts of those who attended.

The communication was unblurringly visible, for all sundry to see how through art, the artists spoke on societal issues.

Political, economic, social and technological aspects were all incorporated in the art through the art.

Abstract and sometimes comprehensive subjects such as climatic change and its effect was reduce into art for easy grasp.

Indeed, it was a worthwhile ‘gathering’ of artists, art lovers, art collectors and the art itself at the gallery.

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Mbira Music The Cherry Plum That Spiced African Day Celebrations

The two-hour time slot was not enough as mbira lovers were left calling for more at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe on Africa day.

Classical acts from Panashe Mujuru, Chiedza Tiyenga, Evelyn Singizi and Klara Ana Rosa mesmerised fans with their exceptional traditional mbira playing prowess that resonated well with the African Day that was being celebrated on 25 May this year.

The well-choreographed performance was a five star, revelers felt shortchanged by the generous free entrance fee and event planners promised to make corrigenda to the acme mismanagement.

As if not enough, the free entrance to the function was coupled with an array of delicacies of traditional dish that was cooked with so much mastery that left all sundry salivating for more.

A stella performance from Evelyn Singizi, left the whole auditorium singing along to the chorus of her impromptu, honing her maestro on live performance.

Chioneso Maraire is the inspiration that led Singizi to embark on the Mbira playing journey. “Growing up listening and watching to Maraire’s songs was all I needed to decide to follow her journey in the mbira realm” said Singizi.

She started playing mbira instrument in 2020 when she enrolled with Great Zimbabwe University for a degree In Media Studies.

“I have always had a traditional background, dancing to traditional music at an early age whilst doing Grade 3 and I still do traditional dance as of now”, said Singizi.

Playing Mbira music especially coming up from a Christian background comes with its own challenges. Singizi put it that, “I never got support from my parents or family, but I do have support from people who I look up to in the music industry “.

In the music industry, women face challenges in a patriarchal dominated society that are not only limited to sexual harassment so as to get time slots during life performances.

“Sometimes you will be given a chance to perform at big stages but in this patriarchal society, you need to sacrifice other things to gain something.

Cyber bulling is some of the other things we face as young female mbira players and performing with renowned artist becomes a halucalem task”, Singizi bemoaned.

Singizi urged the National Art Council of Zimbabwe to promote Mbira Music so that the Mbira Sound be nationally celebrated sound just like amapiano genre in South Africa.

One of the artists of note who kept mbira lovers to their feet is Mujuru Panashe.

Mujuru started playing mbira when he was doing his form one at Sahumani Secondary School in the Vallies of Honde.

Besides being taught mbira at school, “I used to go a little further on my own and put variations to what I was taught and come up with top notch sound and that is when I discovered that I was so talented”, Mujuru said.

Just like in Singizi’s case, no family support was offered to Mujuru as they believed that the playing of mbira was a sacred mode and evil spirits manifested.

“Hupenyu Wenherera”, a soliloquy peace in making is a story of orphans suffering in the hands of relatives and was so emotional performance by Mujuru that fans could be seen shedding one or two tear drops.

Mujuru signed off his performance by performing ‘Varimugomba’, a message to God and ancestors appealing for help. The help might be late in coming, so one should assist self and help will be met on the way, sang Mujuru, a spiritual uplifting song.

The writer of this script thought he had read and mastered it all about decoloniality philosophy, the black skin white masks as alluded by Frantz Fanon, but was left with pale face of shame when Klara Ana Rosa did a sterling performance.

“Shoko”, a mbira song filled with biblical imagery from John 1 verse 1, was the last song of the event, an act that became so personal to this writer and got him into thinking.

Conclusively he realised, Africa was not about the colour of the skin, ‘but the conception of the heart’. Klara is more African than most of the black people as revealed by her African allegoric song with Christianity insinuation and her traditional mbira playing artistry.

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