HomeLife & StyleMatonhodze launches photographic exhibition

Matonhodze launches photographic exhibition

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TALENTED photojournalist Cynthia Matonhodze officially launched a month-long exhibition titled A Living: Diary of the Lives of Street Vendors in Harare yesterday.

by Tinashe Sibanda

The photographic showcase, which is one of its kind, will run for a full month at the Harare City Library, depicting the lives of four different female vendors who each have a role of providing for their families.

Documentary photographer Cynthia Matonhodze speaks during the opening of her photo exhibition.
Documentary photographer Cynthia Matonhodze speaks during the opening of her photo exhibition.

Matonhodze, who is also a multimedia producer and founding director of the Zimbabwe Association of Female Photographers (ZAFP), said she had taken a task upon herself to depict the lives of these people so others could see the struggle behind their usual day to day activities of being vendors.

“It is a call for help for the nation at large to see, sympathise and help these people who played a major role in the economy of Zimbabwe,” she said.

The photographs on display are part of an on-going personal documentary project by Matonhodze, to further portray the women’s challenges and small victories in their pursuit of a better life.

Gogo Mpofu (left) explains a picture pf herself to exhibition attendees.
Gogo Mpofu (left) explains a picture pf herself to exhibition attendees.

From a 68-year-old Gogo Mpofu who sends her two teenage granddaughters to school in Nkayi from the money she earns from her trade, to the 32-year-old Mai Carol whose husband died three days after she gave birth to her fourth child, Matonhodze is seeking to humanise these women by documenting their daily struggles that have led them to selling their wares on the streets of Harare.

Alpha Media Holdings Editor- in-Chief Vincent Kahiya, who was also present at the launch, said he was happy with how Matonhodze had taken it upon herself to go further into a much smaller idea he had given her last year after he had seen several vendors at Fourth Street bus terminus.

AMH Editor-in-Chief speaks at the launch of the exhibition.
AMH Editor-in-Chief speaks at the launch of the exhibition.

“This is a new method of telling stories as photographs are more engaging compared to texts,” said Kahiya.

He further encouraged people to go out and do such endeavours that would also cause the economy drivers not to only focus on “men and women in suits” but also those that were affected by their decisions.

Mai Nyoni, a vendor, is interviewed during the launch.
Mai Nyoni, a vendor and memember of the National Vendors Union, is interviewed during the launch.

National Vendors’ Union of Zimbabwe national director Samuel Wadzai who was present at the launch said he was excited by Mantonhodze’s initiative which was a first of its kind that really depicted the realities of vending experiences in the country.

“The first thing we need to do as a nation is to accept vending as a reality and come up with forms of support for those who do so, so they also find space in this economy,” he said.

National Vendors Union director Samuel Wadzai.
National Vendors Union director Samuel Wadzai.

Wadzai said Matonhodze was thus the biggest thing to ever happen to vending in the country as her exhibition would encourage policymakers to dig deeper into issues concerning vendors including handling of corruption, allocation of vending sites and governing space barons amongst other things.

Some of the exhibition attendees.
Some of the exhibition attendees.

ZAFP director Angela Jimu said they were so excited to have one of them come up with such incredible work that considered the plight of others and that as ZAPF they were more than excited to be behind her projects.

FAMWZ director Abigail Gamanya gives a speech during the launch.
FAMWZ director Abigail Gamanya gives a speech during the launch.

The on-going documentary project seeks to educate and encourage decision-makers to begin to approach the issue of “vendors” in the CBD and elsewhere in the country with more compassion and consideration for their livelihoods.

Photographers Jekesai Njikizana and Wilfred Kajese chat during the launch of the exhibition.
Photographers Jekesai Njikizana and Wilfred Kajese chat during the launch of the exhibition.

Matonhodze is also a ZimRights Human Rights Journalist of the Year nominee (2013).

The launch was supported by FAMWZ as part of their mandate to advance the cause of women media practitioners.

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