Edutainment mix: Artists must play a role in strengthening of accountability

The late musician System Tazvida in most of his songs would advocate for the plight of the workers who were subjected to poor wages and pay

AS an artist, I am compelled to be someone who plays a different and necessary part in contributing to the overall health, well-being and development of society through my work.

Again, as a creative I seek to provide communities with joy, interaction and inspiration. I also give thoughtful critiques to our political, economic, and social systems that push communities to engage thoughtfully and make steps toward social progress as well as to participate in democratic processes.

Accountability is something that remains of importance, especially within our current context where there is the crisis of service delivery within communities, among other critical factors of note. 

The role of the artist, among others, is firstly to be true to themselves as they can within the society, the community and the world at large in as much as this may sound cliché.

Accountability is a prominent element of a flourishing business culture, and this is an art that also promotes the development of a nation. Here, I am taking issues of being accountable as something that has an art side to it.

The general meaning of accountability is to hold oneself responsible, or to be held responsible for completing a task. It's considered a form of trustworthiness. This trait is such a powerful aspect of any organisation or community because it empowers people to take initiative and contribute work in a dependable fashion which in the process can facilitate the prevalence of development and growth.

More specifically, it ensures that protocols are executed in a timely and orderly manner - but its meaning is not easily and cohesively interpreted among different people.

Being an artist means to wear different sorts of masks, but the responsibility that lingers is that of the artist having to unearth the truth of things. Advocating for accountability is something that is of critical importance in Zimbabwe where there is the challenge of poor service delivery and rampant corruption.

The artists as leaders have an important mandate to be the voice that stimulates the responsible authorities to deliver the appropriate quality services.

I like how the late System Tazvida in most of his songs would advocate for the plight of the workers who were subjected to poor wages and pay.

Songs are a powerful medium that can play a role in stimulating the need for those in the positions of power and dominance to be accountable, and hence meet the needs of the affected community or individuals.

In the context of Zimbabwe, we have come of age, and it has since become high time that art becomes a major tool to strengthen and to promote accountability. Art must be highly utilised  as it can be effective to fight against corruption.

Art can be used to engage young people and help them to express themselves in their own way and increase their knowledge on good governance.

Art is something that lasts in the minds of people and is something that can stimulate and also facilitate behavioral change. Young people can work with different stakeholders that can support them to ensure that creativity is utilised to promote good governance through art.

In the context of the arts sector, promotion of accountability is the ability to take a social responsibility and taking the role of the fifth estate to question the prevalence of injustice and biases. Accountability for artists also means taking a radical stance and not being afraid of confrontation and intimidation.

It is well know that in our Zimbabwean context, the precepts of accountability are in a great many times affected by the use of coercive forces or repressive apparatus to intimidate the voices that speak against injustice.

 I like the example of reggae artists like Bob Marley and Peter Tosh who were never afraid to speak out their mind against social injustices, peace and human rights. They remained true to their advocacy against the political injustice and the social ills that happened within Jamaica.  Their influence also even stretched to our very own context where Bob Marley has a song titled Zimbabwe, which speaks of liberation and freedom against colonialism.

 Many reggae musicians still speak of issues of accountability, which is something of deep essence and hence contributes to the manifestation of growth and development. In our locale, we are afraid to demand accountability because of the fear of being targeted.

One factor I am aware of is that most people see artists as individualists who don’t have anything to do with the real world, but is that really true? What does art have to do with our society? No one can give a straightforward answer to these questions, but being an artist definitely comes with a certain responsibility and social influence.

This is something that really requires action, and art accentuates such action.

Unlike politicians or marketing managers, artists do not have such a clearly defined duty and responsibility, but they definitely impact the world in many different ways.

There are countless socially responsible artists who strongly believe they must tell the truth to the world when everybody else pretends not to see it.

Take Banksy as an example, because he always finds a way to point out social injustice in a creative manner.

Not every artist is as direct and up-to-the-point as Banksy, but the fact remains that poets, sculptors, and other artists are there to remind us in their creative ways of the things we cannot or do not want to see.

Of course, artists are also in charge of breaking the norms and discovering uncharted territories. They are the avant-garde, and individuals whose works are characterised chiefly by unorthodox and experimental methods which is the essence that is required of an effective and useful artistic attitude that will push for accountability.

We are not talking about art exclusively. On the contrary, artists are also known for breaking social norms and introducing new behaviour patterns to local communities. Their influence can be more or less productive, but artists will always be looking for opportunities to break the norms and guide society but these norms have to also stimulate the culture of development and growth.

Can you imagine a world without artists who point out and describe some of the most important problems of a given era?

Of course, the answer is “No” because it would make the history of art a lot less fruitful. So artists have an important role to point out the critical issues that relate to accountability.

  • Raymond Millagre Langa is a musician, poet, orator and independent researcher. He is also the founder of Indebo edutainment Trust. Follow Raymond Millagre Langa @Millagre Ray Langa on Facebook, @Millagre Langa on twitter and email [email protected] or [email protected]

Related Topics