Ndau festival returns to empower girl child

Tendai Mavengeni

THRILLS and jubilations are expected as the Ndau Festival of the Arts returns after a two-year sabbatical due to COVID-19 that had choked the creative sector.

The festival organisers have set September 24 as the dates for this year’s event to be held under the theme Mainstreaming the Ndau Language Through Fronting the Girl Child as a Symbol for Development and Civilisation.

The brain behind the festival, Phillip Kusasa told NewsDay Life & Style that it will be held at Paiyapo Arts Development and Heritage Centre in Bangira village under Chief Musikavanhu, Chipinge.

“The Ndau festival is among the fast-growing rural festivals where most cultural players in the country converge since its inception in 2013,” he said.

“In the past, the festival has attracted guests from major institutions whose activities are culturally biased. The Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation and the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education have always put their weight behind the festival.”

Kusasa said this year’s festival is meant to promote Ndau literacies as an integral part of life in all aspects such as in food, dressing, cultural norms and values as well as paying special attention to the girl child.

“The event inspires youths, especially those of schoolgoing ages. Most children in the rural setting have been deprived of a conducive environment that can inspire their creative potential,” he said, also noting that the birth of the festival was to create a platform for the local children to exhibit their creative prowess.

“As most children, especially girls were a bit hooked back by some unfair stereotypes that could not celebrate their public performances, the Ndau festival emerged to create an all-child creative space,” he said.

The festival will be a two-in-one event that will encompass an awards ceremony to honour those who are championing Ndau language, while the occasion will also promote various other Ndau cultural aspects.

“The festival will also be a platform to honour some creative arts legends from the Ndau cultural landscape who have done a lot in the creative arts. Also, promising young creative artists from the Ndau cultural space are going to be honoured,” he said.

“Through the festival, we are trying to change the general mindsets that sees little value in arts as an economic pillar. So, bringing in the models of such great artists who have made it in the arts means a lot.

“We have big names in the creative industries from the Ndau region and celebrating these household names in their backyard
would no doubt inspire the other locals.”

The festival has proven to be a fertile ground for researchers from tertiary institutions and culturally-based organisations. Researchers from universities like Great Zimbabwe, University of Zimbabwe and Midlands State University are also expected to grace the event.

“Harare-based mbira player Tendai Mavengeni will be among the performers at the festival as we celebrate the achievements of the girl child in creative arts,” he said.

“Tendai is still young, but has shaken the musical world with her mastery of mbira. We strategically considered her so that she can inspire rural youths who still doubt their competence in creative arts.”

Among the invited groups to perform at the festival are Children’s Performing Arts Workshop (Chipawo), Gaza high and primary, Chibuwe high, Chikore high, Gedion Mhlanga high, Chinaa high and Mafumhe secondary schools.

“We also expect Mutendi High’s brass band to perform. Bangira primary and Big Tree primary schools will also be part of the performing schools. Big Tree Primary School’s special class is going to showcase mbira music and if all goes by plan, the children with disabilities from the same school are going to participate in a painting project that would be facilitated by Chipawo,” Kusasa explained.

This year’s edition will also attract some seasoned artists from major cities, among them poet Tinashe Muchuri and singer Orthell Mangoma (all from Harare), Dandaro Vibes and Chenhaka all from Mutare.

“We have also invited Chipinge-based traditional dance groups, Chiaraidze, Holland, Muzite, Musapingura, Sikhanda and Bangira and youngest poet from the Ndau land, Flight Mlambo whose performances have rocked the airwaves,” he added.

Kusasa expressed gratitude to the National Arts Council of
Zimbabwe, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and Chipawo, among others for supporting the festival since its inception in 2013.

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