(Pic 1): The Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, Kirsty Coventry (left) admires the work of Brenda Matshazi (seated), a Mzilikazi Art and Craft Centre fine art student during her tour of the centre in Mzilikazi suburb, Bulawayo, yesterday. Looking on (second from right) is the institution’s senior art instructor Mr Kenneth Gama and the Chief Director in the Ministry, Dr Benson Dube. (Pic 2): The Minister and her baby Ella are welcomed by traditional dancing groups on their arrival at Ezimnyama Arts Centre in Matshobana suburb yesterday. (Pic 3): The Minister (centre) poses for a picture with arts groups during her visit to Zimnyama Arts Centre in Matshobana suburb, Bulawayo yesterday. (Pictures by Dennis Mudzamiri)
Bongani Ndlovu, Showbiz Correspondent
RENOWNED Imbube group, Black Umfolosi, have appealed to Government to consider giving them diplomatic passports as they have represented the country as cultural ambassadors internationally for over 30 years.
This was said by one of the founding members of the group, Tomeki Dube, during Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Kristy Coventry’s familiarisation tour of arts facilities in Bulawayo yesterday.
Addressing the Minister at their Black Umfolosi Cultural Centre, Dube said as Zimbabwe’s cultural ambassadors abroad, they needed diplomatic passports.
“As the team re-engages the international community as Zimbabwe’s arts and cultural ambassadors, we humbly request to be considered as candidates for diplomatic passports. Also, we ask for equitable representation of artistes from traditional music genres to be considered during national gatherings in order to strengthen the uptake and preservation of our arts, culture and heritage,” said Dube.
He also asked the Minister to intervene in their battle to get royalties for their song Unity, 32 years after its release. Minister Coventry, while not promising anything solid, said her Ministry would fight for the artistes to get their dues.
On the issue of diplomatic passports, this resonated with Minister Coventry, an Olympic champion who upon returning from winning a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, was given a diplomatic passport as part of the country’s appreciation for her international exploits.
“Across the whole sector, I’ve heard that call (diplomatic passports). It’s not something that I can promise because it’s not something within my ministry, but I think there’re definitely ways that aren’t necessarily a diplomatic passport.
“There are ways we can honour our artistes and young people who have done incredible things for Zimbabwe and our community,” said Minister Coventry. During her tour, Minister Coventry was with her husband Tyrone Seward and 14-week-old daughter Ella in tow. First, she visited the Mzilikazi Arts and Craft Centre where she was shown the various divisions of the facility and what they produce.
Next, she toured Matshobana Youth Centre where award-winning and Chibuku Neshamwari (2017 and 2019) national champions Ezimnyama Dance group practice. Here, her delegation was welcomed through song and traditional dance. Thandanani Women’s Ensemble led the procession from the gate to the front of the facility where people had gathered to see Minister Coventry. Bolamba Arts, Thandanani and Ezimnyama gave Minister Coventry a dance piece.
In his address, Ezimnyama director Phibion Dube pleaded with the minister for her to help set up vocational training colleges for the arts.
“We encourage the minister to help open a vocational training centre, especially up to university level. This is so that people have certificates in order to be employed in their trade, be it dance or theatre,” said Dube.
Thereafter, the Minister and her delegation moved a stone’s throw away to Black Umfolosi Cultural Centre in Entumbane, where she was met by Iluba Lemvelo who gave a music piece in the celebratory dance, isitshikitsha.
Her entourage, which included Chief Director Dr Benson Dube and National Arts Council of Zimbabwe provincial director, Charity Nyathi, then proceeded to Inyathi Youth Centre where award-winning Indosakusa: The Morning Star were found deep in rehearsal. The Minister was invited to join in and she was taught a dance, much to the delight of the people in the room. The tour ended at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo and Multimedia Box Studios.
Minister Coventry explained that the tour was held to have an appreciation of what is needed by the artistes and how best to map a way forward with them.
“This tour was for me to get a better understanding of firstly what they (artistes) are doing and secondly what their challenges are. Thirdly, it is about figuring out how we can move forward together.
“We shall create a think tank on how we can do this collectively and how we can assist each other. This will take team work,” said Minister Coventry. chronicle