THE move by stakeholders in the arts and academic sector to honour celebrated playwright the late Stephen Chifunyise through the Stephen J International Festival is indeed commendable. For too long, the memories of many of our arts and culture gurus have been allowed to perish without any continued recognition beyond their deaths.
It is not in doubt that such creatives play an essential role in the culture industry of the country. And with other fine artists including Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi, Charles Mungoshi, Dickson “Chinx” Chingaira and Chifunyise now gone, it is about time that we start thinking of something like a hall of fame for our artists to preserve their memory so that even future generations will acknowledge and appreciate their significant contributions.
We do agree with National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ) director Nicholas Moyo that a culture of recognising luminaries in the arts and theatre sector by naming key infrastructure after them to inspire young generations is indeed a necessity. And this is the time to begin conversation around these issues.
There are many culture industry workers who have contributed to different areas of arts and culture, but are hardly talked about anymore. This is a sad state of affairs that needs to be rectified. Their names need to be preserved for posterity in the same way we honour our heroes who fought in the liberation struggle.
Africa has been accused for its reluctance to celebrate its success stories written by heroes that are not necessarily political players. It is important for the stakeholders to solicit the support of the corporate sector and get their buy in so that the hall of fame is created, and it should also become an essential tourism component besides the natural wonders such as the Victoria Falls.
Hollywood in the United States has the Hollywood Walk of Fame that comprises over 2 600 five-pointed terrazzo and brass stars embedded in the sidewalks along 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street in Hollywood, California. The stars are permanent public monuments to achievement in the entertainment industry by musicians, actors, directors, producers, musical and theatrical groups and fictional characters, and others. The Walk of Fame is administered by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and maintained by the self-financing Hollywood Historic Trust. It has over the years become a popular tourist destination attracting millions and millions of tourists every year.
While we may not be as extravagant, but something along those lines must surely be doable. So, how about a hall of fame for our artists?