My friend and colleague of many years has been implicated in a sex scandal. If you’re wondering (as you have been in personal messages) if I was part of that… the answer is NO. I am however, terribly disheartened by these accusations of such great magnitude. I have read his side of the story with shame and appall pondering how one could trivialize trials of this level with a fling?
The facts of the story seem to remain you had sexual relations with an actress at least a decade your junior who looked up to you to advance her career; that is abuse of office in Lewinsky or any other language. Had you met under any other circumstances it would have been plain old adultery, which is still unbecoming.
On behalf of the fraternity: I sincerely apologize to the victim and to all aspiring actresses; that is not how we do film, or any other art. I have worked with her before and have been awed by her energy. It breaks my heart to see someone so passionate and talented taken advantage of.
During my tenure as CEO of Ya-Sibo? Media I had very few edicts and one was that we do not touch the talent; Ever. It weakens us. The Japanese say evil is what springs from weakness; we denounce evil. ‘The General is the bulwark of the state’ wrote Sun Tzu. What are his virtues? Wisdom, courage, benevolence, sincerity and strictness. To this stature we must aspire when we command. On set the general is the director, your team should feel confident to follow you to world’s end to get the job done.
Sometimes getting the job done means working late into the night. One night on set, an actress was concerned what her mother was thinking at that point, with good reason, it must have been after ten. In my cheeky fashion I told her to call her father and tell him to tell his wife their daughter was with me (among other team-members). By that utterance I meant her father; an elder to me, could vouch, even to his wife, that my intentions were pure. I would love for all of us to say that to any actress, yet scandals like these claw us down and cost the arts sector multitudes of talent. Parents lock up their daughters in fear of such occurrences.
When one takes up the mantle of director/producer, under no circumstance that one can control, should harm befall the talent. You will be held accountable whatever the case and the gallows might befall you If any mishap occurs. I may be a blasphemous cunt, but a reverend should never have cause to question my motive when I work with his daughter, he should be excited by the newness we are birthing into the world.
Certain people were hoping for a certain theatre-maker’s head in this scandal. I for one am glad it wasn’t his, although sadly the dart hit too close. The man the mob sought has done some meaningful protest work. Not entirely my Tanganda, but meaningful nonetheless. How would it look if he was playing David while naked in such a glass house? We are not saints, but let our work discipline us to better people. Nietzsche tells us ‘humanness’ should be transcended.
‘Fraternizing’ while fun, rarely ends well; Sometimes it’s a trap from get-go. We all have enemies and it won’t be easy to prove what happened behind closed doors. Remember when a groupie said Tupac sodomised her in his hotel room? His bail cost a million dollars because of his stature. The case might not have stuck, but he didn’t get a refund on the time he spent inside, and one can argue that the choice that earned him his freedom caused his early death.
Laura was hurt. One wonders how that will affect her trust in filmmakers and authority figures, how healthy her self-esteem was after you decided you had come to the point of returning to your wife?
The entire arts/entertainment industry was also hurt. Are we ethically ready for the intense work before us should the long-promised ‘digitization’ materialize before The Parousia? Are we fighting for recognition, respect and better working conditions while being implicated in scandals like these? Sadly, this is not the first one of its kind in local film; earlier this year another award-winning director (who was called ‘an arrogant shit’ by a more reputable director) also had his balls on the block. He used the same paltry ‘woman scorned’ excuse.
Power without compassionate purpose is tyranny. My brothers, these scandals weaken us.
There is grumbling of a mafia running the arts in Bulawayo, on the national proscenium talk of ‘generational consensus’; that the old guard must give way to the younger. Objectively speaking, do we look ready to take over? My friend is human but we have an obligation to not condone, particularly we who are close to him. Let us learn more from his mistake. Let us reflect on what it means in the wider context. May we be stronger and more disciplined in our endeavors so that when we speak to power; for and of change, ‘the monsters we defy’ as monikered by the Harlem poet, may be constrained.
Philani A Nyoni is an Award Winning Zimbabwean Poet, Writer, Actor and Film Director.