This is an open request to our brothers who want to assume public office; I will boldly name them Nkululeko ‘Nkue’ Nkala, Prince ‘Mazilankatha’ Ncube, Lewis Ndlovu and Nigel Ndlovu; In case you make it to the top (if ever there is a top), please do not forget the suffering masses. The reason why I say this is because I have noticed that there is work that needs to be done on a socio-political scale and economical scale when it comes to the arts fraternity.
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There is still a lot of PR and perception shifting that needs to be done for the arts in relation to the society that it exists in. This work can only be done and achieved through having sound policies that embrace the arts as a profession capable of sustaining the people in it. There is need for the artists to be taken seriously and for them to take themselves seriously.
So this week I had the revelation of my life as to why the arts are still a long way from being taken seriously in this our country. I visited a local high school and had the chance to interact with the deputy headmaster. Before the end of my introduction I mentioned how I work closely with many people in the arts industry and from the facial expression one could tell that I had already hit a nerve by the mention of the word ARTS.
I did not get the chance to finish my introduction the way I wanted because of the disgusted smirk on the gentleman’s face; it was simply denigrating and intimidating. As soon as he got the chance to speak his remark was, “Lina bantu bamaDance group liyahlupha. Abantwana bethu bazwakala sebeseGweru selihambe labo sekunathwa kosenziwa ukuganga”. I was taken back and had to quickly end the conversation before I could go any further as my temper was boiling.
After I calmed down, the first thing that caught my attention was how narrow minded the deputy headmaster was to think the Arts industry directly translates to a dance group in his bigger world. Unfortunately for him I am not a dance group member and do not know how to dance even if I had to save my life by doing so.
I wondered to myself if this suit clad gentleman had met a suit clad banker or a lawyer, would the reaction and the condescending comments be the same? Another thing that had me thinking was how in institutions we have top ranking individuals who vilify the whole industry because of a segmented incident that was an unlucky to occurrence.
I mean, headlines are littered with pastors accused of tasting the sweet waters of their congregants but that does not stop us from going to church. Why is the whole industry painted with the same brush and paint? There is a whole lot of good happening compared to the bad.
Growing up (and I believe it still exists) we were mentally conditioned to think that our sisters who were in the performing arts were people of loose moral fibre. Being a dancer or theatre actor was shunned and you would be called names for being one. Many tertiary institutions now offer Arts related courses but the stigma and ridicule of doing arts still exists in those institutions (speaking from experience).
At the university I attended, I once experienced an incident where a dean of students commented on Arts students as not being serious with life hence he would not provide them with accommodation prior to other students. Although this was his way of joking I believed deep down he meant it.
As mentioned earlier there is a need for policies that ensure the professionalization of the industry as a whole. There is a lot of P.R convincing that needs to be done in both our institutions and in society so as to portray the arts in a good light. Arts should be taken serious if we are to build our own Zollywood and it is up to all of us to contribute towards this potentially exportable product.
To my brothers abusing the young ones, please stop it. To my M.Ps please remember the youth centers that are a hub for most young people in the townships. To the Minister, we see you, your work of your failures and successes will still be in the history books 50 years from now; write your destiny well.
To the rest of the artists, keep on keeping on, kuzolunga one day, we’ll wear those fancy suits and show them that the arts are a profession worthy of exploring.
Follow Keith K Moyo on Twitter : @keithmoyoZW