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Human rights fest goes virtual


THE physical limitations imposed as part of the measures to curb the spread of the global COVID-19 pandemic have not impeded organisers of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Festival 2020 who have gone virtual in their efforts to inspire a culture of human rights protection in Zimbabwe through arts.


Organised by a transformative arts organisation, Edzai Isu Trust with the support of Hivos through the African Crossroads Community Resilience Fund, this year’s edition of the two-day festival that roared to life yesterday features creatives from the country’s six provinces.

The Human Rights Day is celebrated annually across the world on December 10 to honour the United Nations General Assembly’s adoption and proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the first global recognition of human rights.

The brains behind the festival Tafadzwa Muzondo  said the fiesta encompassed powerful poetry and plays from both seasoned and young artists as well as discussions on arts and human rights issues.

“Against all odds, Edzai Isu Trust has managed again to rally together seasoned and aspiring poets as well as established human rights arts organisations from the country’s six provinces with another one from Zambia for an exciting and empowering second edition of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Festival 2020,” he said.

“This festival is a crucial rallying point in human rights promotion. Instead of being discouraged by the physical restrictions, we have been encouraged by the virtual possibilities of synergising with human rights artists from outside Harare.”

Muzondo said unlike the festival’s first edition held last year at Theatre pa Bridge in Highfield which only had Harare artists, this year they had managed to partner with renowned human rights arts entities from across the country and Zambia.

“The Zimbabwe Human Rights Festival 2020 strongly buttresses the 2020 theme for the Human Rights Day which is Recover Better Stand Up for Human Rights that relates to the COVID-19 pandemic and focuses on the need to build back better by ensuring human rights are central to recovery efforts,” he said.

The director of Bambelela Arts Ensemble, a seasoned community development and human rights arts organisation from Bulawayo, Witness Tavarwisa said the festival went a long way in healing the wounds of survivors of all forms of human rights abuses across the board.

“We do appreciate this partnership with Edzai Isu Trust because it shows how the creatives are committed to holistically tackling the human rights issues. This festival means a lot as it will give us yet another opportunity to spread the human rights gospel to new audiences while also attracting new audiences to the festival,” he said.

“The virtual festival came at the right time as we are adapting to the new normal under the global COVID-19 regulations which saw the manifestation of a lot of human rights violations especially during the lockdown period. Above all it solidifies our efforts at facilitating community development through our creative collaboration.”

Among the creatives, who are part of this year’s festival are Victory Siyanqoba (Bulawayo), Berina Community Arts (Mashonaland East), Shangano Arts Trust (Matabeleland North) Baptism of Fire (Mashonaland West) Bambelela Arts Ensemble (Bulawayo), Jahunda Community Arts (Matabeleland South), Yezi Arts (Zambia), International Human Rights Art Festival (Africa).

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