Award-winning Savanna Trust, a local arts for development organisation, will hold its third edition of the annual Protest Arts International Festival (Paif) in summer this year.
The three-day event will mark the opening of the main component of the festival, a symposium and platform for sharing and critiquing strategies and challenges for developing a democratic society.
Some of the activities lined up for this event include community theatre and amateur productions slated to start at the University of Zimbabwe.
These productions will see university student, academics, social activists and community theatre practitioners engaging in a variety of theatre and poetry productions whose storylines will revolve around themes of human rights, democracy and justice.
This year’s theme invites researchers and practitioners to conceptualise, contextualise and problematise the role of the arts and culture in the building and sustenance of a vibrant and robust civil society in Africa and beyond.
Participants from Botswana, Kenya, Malawi and South Africa are expected to grace the festival.
Last year the festival showcased engaging performances of plays like Election Day, Apokalupsis, Revolution Avenue, Poetic Journey and Weapons of Mass Instruction.
Poets that performed at the festival include Chirikure Chirikure, Mbizo Chirasha, Black Child and Rutendo Chigudu.
This year several theatre groups and institutions from around Zimbabwe will again have the opportunity to participate and mix with their counterparts from various cultures.
Paif started in 2009, bringing together local and international artists, scholars and audiences from around the globe.
“There is a stigma that has been associated with the word ‘protest’ which misleads people into thinking that this is a violent process which paves way for mobs to run amok and hooligans to loot,” said a spokesperson of the festival.
“Instead, the protest festival is about a creative class of ordinary citizens identifying problems, reflecting on the past and creating alternatives.”
In his speech during last year’s edition Daniel Maphosa, Savanna Trust and festival director said: “Protest art is not merely a tool of lampooning the system of the day, simply pointing at the evils bedeviling the society.
“Rather, it is a movement that plays initiatory and active roles in raising issues and practices that enhance democratic processes and community development”.
The 2010 edition had various platforms of sharing ideas through intellectual dialogues facilitated by academics like Professor Joseph Odhiambo of Moi University in Kenya and McDonald Lewanika the director of Crisis Coalition in Zimbabwe among others.
Since its inception the festival has played a role in highlighting the contributions of protest arts to democratic processes in societies.
“We expect an increased interest and representation from local groups. Jahunda Community Arts Ensemble of Gwanda is expected to represent the country again in the performance category.
“We expect the number of foreign guests to increase and we are looking forward to a bigger festival than previous editions,” said the organisers.