Tuesday, 16 December 2014

THE END OF 16 DAYS NOT THE END OF ACTIVISM

''Maintenance case loser attempts to stab wife."
"Hubby attacks wife with farming tools."
"Athlete's killer brother arrested."
"Woman brothel owner faces murder charge."
"Ugandan maid jailed." Jolly Tumihirwe (22) was caught on camera beating, kicking an 18-month old toddler.

Roughly a week after 16 Days of activism we continue to see headlines like this, a reflection that it's not over.  16 Days of Activism may be over but we continue to read reports of violations of human rights the world over and efforts must continue in whatever space or capacity to bring an end to these horrendous acts of violence that continue to plague our societies.

As FLAME we continue to explore how art can be used to bring social change, to work with artists who can add their voice against any form of violence bearing in mind that these are people coming from communities where they also may experience or encounter different forms of violence.

This year we had 17 events for the 16 Days of activism with a gender forum, theatre, ten musical shows, 4 film screenings and a poetry slam. 
All events were well attended with insightful discussions held especially after the film screenings. 
Among the films was 'Whistleblower' courtesy of the Embassy of Canada - The Whistleblower is a 2010 thriller film directed by Larysa Kondracki and starring Rachel Weisz. Kondracki and Eilis Kirwan wrote the screenplay, which was inspired by the story of Kathryn Bolkovac, a Nebraska police officer who was recruited as a United Nations peacekeeper for DynCorp International in post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1999. While there, she discovered a sex trafficking ring serving (and facilitated by) DynCorp employees, with the UN SFOR turning a blind eye. Bolkovac was fired and forced out of the country after attempting to shut down the ring. She took the story to BBC News in England and won a wrongful-dismissal lawsuit against DynCorp.  A griping and complicated story, not the kind of story we hear often in this part of the world.

Other films shown include Ninah's Dowry courtesy of Women Film Makers of Zimbabwe, What's Love Got To do With It and Asylum courtesy of Women's University Gender & Development Studies Department.

This year saw the involvement of young women who utilised the Sistaz Open Mic platform to recite poetry and sing against gender violence.  Sistaz Open Mic, a daytime performance platform allows the involvement from all genres of art and from all ages and has been going strong in the past seven years.  The Sistaz Open Mic event was supported by One Billion Rising Revolution, Girls Legacy and Institute of Young Women's Development(IYWD).
Zimbabwe College of Music all-Female band at Sistaz Open Mic
The curtain came down on the 10th of December with the Human Rights Concert.  The event was graced by Canadian Ambassador, Lisa Stadelbauer.  
Canadian Ambassador, Lisa Stadelbauer giving her speech
Highlighting this year’s slogan for Human Rights Day is “Human Rights 365”, which encompasses the idea that every day is Human Rights Day, Ambassador Lisa Stadelbauer said Canada continues to partner with civil society organisations to develop a culture of human rights through the Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives support project to further freedom, human rights, good governance, and the rule of law in Zimbabwe, Angola and Botswana.

She profoundly quoted the United Nations, that the fundamental proposition in the Universal Declaration celebrates "that each one of us, everywhere, at all times is entitled to the full range of human rights, that human rights belong equally to each of us and bind us together as a global community with the same ideals and values."

The night was left to rising blues and neo-soul artist Raven, Prudence Katomeni-Mbofana and Hope Masike to speak in song.  We take this time to thank all the artists who came through to all the events and participated or supported in one way or another.

We also would like to thank our partners: Embassy of Canada, Culture Fund of Zimbabwe Trust, One Billion Rising,  Women Film Makers of Zimbabwe, Women Arts Festival(WAFEST), Girls Legacy, Institute of Young Women Development(IYWD) and WUA Gender Development Studies department for their support and making all the 16 Days events happen at the Book Café.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Prudence and Hope for Human Rights Day

Human Rights Concert marks end of 16 Days Programme at Book Cafe
Wed 10 Dec 2014, 8pm
Book Café, 139 S.Machel Ave, Harare
 
Throughout the world, Wednesday 10 December 2014 marks Human Rights Day, and in Harare, three exciting women artists of Zimbabwe come together to commemorate and celebrate its existence – one of Zim’s top jazz singers PRUDENCE KATOMENI and mbira princess HOPE MASIKE will occupy Book Café stage with back-to-back sets, opening with the emerging ‘RAVEN’ from 8pm.  A scintillating performance is expected! 

The event is the finale in the exciting programme for ‘16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence’, by Harare’s busy arts development organisation Pamberi Trust and its gender programme ‘FLAME’ (Female Literary, Arts and Music Enterprise) which has featured many women artists in music and poetry performances, discussions and films since November. 
 
The Human Rights Concert at Book Café on Wednesday 10 December is presented with kind support from the Embassy of Canada in Harare, and other project partners.
 
Women Artists for Human Rights
 
The three popular women artists were very keen to participate in the final event in the annual ’16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence’ programme at Book Café, joining women around the world in the long-running international campaign that starts on 25 November, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and ends on 10 December, Human Rights Day - symbolically designated to emphasize that gender-based violence is a human rights violation.  (Read more at http://16dayscwgl.rutgers.edu).
 
PRUDENCE KATOMENI-MBOFANA is a household name in Zimbabwe, with a singing and acting career which blossomed in her teenage years.  Now an acclaimed performing and recording artist, wife and mother of four, she immediately agreed to perform in the Concert, saying “It is very important for us to participate in such commemorations, to make our voices heard on behalf of those who don’t have a voice, or don’t have a chance to voice their concerns”.
 
HOPE MASIKE - In the last few years Hope Masike has been travelling widely in the world, proudly representing Zimbabwe, and broadening her horizons, awareness and understanding.  At the time of writing she was in the middle of an eastern tour including China, Honk Kong and Malaysia (hard on the heels of a hectic US tour), but looking forward to getting back home to the Human Rights Concert. 
 
From her hotel room in Malaysia in the week before the show she said, “Rights are things we are allowed to do, to be or to have, by mere virtue of being human.  Much as they are all equally important, I'd like to talk about the right to participate in the cultural life of a community, the right to art, science and learning.  I am loving this one not only because it covers my field but also because our culture as a people or even as individuals is important and sets us apart from others.   Let us utilize this right by feeding our minds with as much art and culture as we can. I know of places were music is not allowed.  We are allowed to listen and to play any music we like, to choose the religion we prefer and so forth. Let us not deny our children their culture because of backward, colonial mind sets. There is a lot of wealth in the cultural heritage left for us. Let us all not watch while the true Zimbabwean/African, Ubuntu values die down. We have the right to it, all of it. If we fail to realize this, others will utilize it because they also have the right to it.”
 
Hope Masike: Photo by FUNGAIFOTO
RAVEN - The youngest artist, Raven (Ruvimbo Mapanda), who is emerging strongly on the local music scene, performing at Book Café and other venues, said “I feel honored to grace such a special occasion, where we have the chance to express ourselves about rights and freedoms [because] to take away a woman's freedom of choice - even her freedom to make a wrong choice - is to manipulate her as though she were a puppet and not a person.”  Raven quotes the late great poet Maya Angelou, saying “a bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song”.  Raven recently featured on a compilation CD for the special women's edition of the new magazine POVO with other Zimbabwean women (still to be released).
Raven
From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, the 16 Days Campaign is a powerful platform to raise the call for an end to gender-based violence and to advocate for the full realization of human rights around the world.
 
In Harare, the Book Café will be buzzing once again, with dynamic performances by the three women on Wednesday 10 December in honour of Human Rights Day.
 

Universal Declaration of Human Rights - A Magna Carta for all humanity

Some 66 years have elapsed since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations on 10 December 1948. The Declaration was one of the first major achievements of the United Nations, and still remains a powerful instrument which continues to exert an enormous effect on people's lives all over the world. This was the first time in history that a document considered to have universal value was adopted by an international organization. It was also the first time that human rights and fundamental freedoms were set forth in such detail, and has been described as "a world milestone in the long struggle for human rights".

The adoption of the Universal Declaration stems in large part from the strong desire for peace in the aftermath of the Second World War. Although the 58 Member States which formed the United Nations at that time varied in their ideologies, political systems and religious and cultural backgrounds and had different patterns of socio-economic development, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights represented a common statement of goals and aspirations - a vision of the world as the international community would want it to become.

The future of human rights lies in our hands. We must all act when human rights are violated. States as well as the individual must take responsibility for the realization and effective protection of human rights.   http://www.un.org/rights/50/carta.htm

In Zimbabwe, as stated in the information publication ‘Declaration of Rights’ by the Legal Resources Foundation, “The Declaration of Rights is a Chapter in the Constitution of Zimbabwe setting out the rights and freedoms which the people of Zimbabwe are entitled to.  The constitution is the supreme law of the country which sets out how the country is governed.  Human Rights are entitlements we have simply because of being human beings.  The rights listed in the Declaration of Rights are constitutional rights and are therefore legally protected.” 


                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Friday, 21 November 2014

SISTAZ SPEAK OUT AGAINST GENDER VIOLENCE

Harare’s Book Café, in association with arts development organisation Pamberi Trust’s gender project FLAME, once again joins the world to commemorate the global ‘16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence’ campaign. The programme which started on the 13 and 14 November with two strong presentations in association with the Women’s Arts Festival, continues this weekend with Sistaz Open Mic.  A daytime performance platform, Sistaz Open Mic allows the participation of women in the arts from dance, poetry, theatre, music and comedy.

This special “16 days Kick-Off” event features Mercy Dhliwayo (better known by her stage name, Xtreme Sanity), a slam poet, emcee and an emerging writer and photographer. Born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, Xtreme started off as a rapper in 1997 and later branched off into poetry and spoken word in 2005 as a first year student at the University of Limpopo.  Xtreme has performed on various platforms which include, but are not limited to, the Intwasa Festival, the University of Limpopo Heritage Festivals, The Black Market Ace’s Annual Charity events; the Canimambo Free Form Musical Festival as well as various festivals hosted by Shindig Awe and the Fire on the Mountain Festival. She has also taken part in the SABC 2′s Lentswe Poetry Project competition in which, through her poem, Survival Techniques, she won under the HIV/AIDS Category in Limpopo Province (2007) and went on to represent the Limpopo Province under the same category at the national level of the competition (2008).
Mercy Dhliwayo
She has further featured in the Black Markets PLK Hip Hop Mixtape (2006); Face the Music Hip hop Timeless Mixtape (2007), the Essential Words (2011), the Shindig Awe: Have we put out the fire Compilation (2012) and the African Fem MC’s Mixtape (2012).  Apart from recordings, her poetry has been published in the Have We Put out The fire Journal, and in the Sunday News newspaper as well as online. Apart from being a poet and an emcee, Xtreme also writes short stories.

Over the years Sistaz Open Mic has worked closely worked with the College of Music students who utilize the stage to gain confidence and work on their stagecraft.  This Saturday there will be a special appearance by an all-female College of Music band, Eve Kawadza as well as many other exciting artists.

The Open Mic will be followed shortly at 530pm by Caroleen Masawi now known as MASA.  MASA is a fast rising afro-soul, jazz artist whose songs traverse between genres of rock and neo-soul.  Masa started performing a year and a half ago on the FLAME platform, and has had the privilege of sharing the stage with musicians such Pablo Nakapa, Edith Weutonga, Rute Mbangwa, Eve Kawadza and Tina Watyoka. Her inspiration is drawn from social issues, family and love.
MASA
She performed at this year’s edition of the Italian Music Festival “Musica” where she shared the stage with extremely talented Italian guitarist Andrea Valeri.   She also opened for Oliver Mutukudzi and Tariro neGitare at the Alliance Francoise recently backed by the Sunsets Jazz Band.  MASA has a song “Pamusoroi” which ties in with the 16 days of activism against Gender Based violence.

16 Days events will continue culminating to the 16 Days Human Rights Concert at the Book Café on the 10th of December.