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3 Things we hope to learn from the next Eziko Theatre Laboratory Session

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Eziko Theatre Laboratory will on the 26th of July host their monthly program in Nkulumane. The July session will also run under this year’s theme “forced change” which focuses on the hosts Victory Siyanqoba’s five pillars of growth that have been implemented for the year 2019; these being innovation, creativity, engagement, empowerment, and transformation.

The program which was launched in 2009 by Victory Siyanqoba is a platform that gives artists the chance to collaborate, critique and review their productions with the intent to improve their stage performance amongst other things. Since its inception, the project has hosted Bulawayo’s most prominent artists such as Jeys Marabini, Martin and Ndolwane Super Sounds, Willis Wataffi, Sandra Ndebele, Khayisa dance group, Clement Magwaza, Black Umfolosi, and Madlela Skhobokhobo to mention a few.

In relation to their five pillars of growth here are three things we hope will be discussed in the coming sessions of Eziko Theatre Laboratory so as to tackle real issues that have been a thorn in the Bulawayo Arts sector’s growth and progression.

  1. Protection of the Girl-Child

The arts industry has for long been marred with the abuse of the girl-child. This is not a local thing alone but rather a global pandemic. Looking at the Me Too campaign in America is an ideal confirmation of how the girl child is expected to supplement her talent with sexual favors so as to fit in.

The girl-child in the arts and entertainment industry has for long been suffering under the patriarchial hand; being sexually preyed on, underpaid and even being discriminated by society has become a norm to these female performers and administrators. Women empowerment has become nothing more than a theoretical structure in the mindset of arts practitioners.

There is a lot of barking out policies with nothing happening on the ground. We now sound like a certain parliament that exists in its own utopian world of surpluses in such rigid economies. It is high time our words were put into practice.

2. Collaborative Action

Speaking of putting words into practice, it is also time we started taking action on collaborations. This should not only be for funding purposes but for future sustainable and innovative ideas that will remain long after funding and other resources are gone. We need to see creative collaborative works that transcend through the age, cultural, social and ethnic divisions that we are suffering from as a city.

We need to see Gilmore Tee taking his trade across the Khami Road to Pumula, Magwegwe, Tshabalala, etc, to work with up and coming unknown designers and theatre costume artists. There is so much talent that needs his refinement and expertise there. It is a pity the CBD is clogged and they might be swallowed up by the city hassles.

We need to see 10th District Music going back to Tshabalala to recreate the magic that worked on their most prized asset Nobuntu. That is the engagement and equitable development we need to see in this Bulawayo. Practical solutions on how people can work together are what we need to hear on the platform.

3. Generational transition

Cliques have had a devastating blow to the progress of the industry and city at large. We have to admit that cliques have failed us. They only benefit a few individuals and leave many feeling secluded and bitter. That is a livid fact!!!! As a city, we need to have a shared vision of what we want to achieve and the steps we will take to get there.

The problem with cliques is that they do not ensure that the vision continues after the clique dies out. There is no harm to those in authority/power to adopt young visionaries as a way of ensuring that the baton is passed from one generation to another. Look at Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Soul Brothers.

Those brands have ensured the legacy continues even after the passing/retirement of the founding fathers. That is because the vision is shared from one generation to another and hence a succession plan can be easily implemented.

We need young people to stand at the front and boldly say they are capable of leading arts institutions into greater heights. Barking from behind does not disqualify you from having cowardice traits. We are tired of complaining and hence the need to act. Festivals and events should be having shadow administrators that are learning the ropes.

We also need for the older generation to be able to open their arms and realising they need to build a legacy around the organisation and not themselves. They should pick young people according to capabilities and not by the culture of being obedient sons and daughters as witnessed in many arts institutions. We have many cases of projects that retired with their founding fathers and we need to have a plan of ensuring that it does not happen again.

Once you initiate a project it becomes a communal thing and surpasses you as an individual; it is the way of life.
The National Art Gallery of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo has set precedence in appointing youthful Amagugu Programs Officer Butholezwe Nyathi as Director of the Gallery. That is the transformation we are talking about. As a city, we need to take a leaf from that book.

As we work towards the next session of Eziko Theatre Laboratory, we hope our opinion will be taken into consideration. We need more ACTION and LESS talk in the industry and that is what this project can go on to offer.