ACCEL ZW Theatre Festival shines spotlight on Gukurahundi

Mthabisi Tshuma

ACCEL ZW Theatre Festival, organised by Savanna Trust, debuted successfully last week in the capital city, featuring a thought-provoking presentation by Gwanda-based arts collective, Jahunda Community Arts, shedding light on the Gukurahundi issue.

At the heart of the festival was Jahunda Community Arts’ poignant play, “The Dark Years”, coinciding with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s vow to prevent a recurrence of the tragic events of Gukurahundi.

Running from Thursday to Saturday, the festival unfolded with a diverse range of activities across three bustling days, primarily held at Jasen Mphepo Little Theatre in Harare.

Reflecting on the event’s success, Savanna Trust’s programmes officer, Teddy Mangawa, highlighted the symposium held at Alliance Française as a pivotal moment, convening leading figures in Zimbabwe’s arts scene and academia. Discussions revolved around vital topics such as capacity building, sustainable funding, and copyright issues, resonating deeply within the arts sector.

The festival also featured a series of workshops aimed at enhancing practical skills and knowledge among participants, covering areas such as dance, acting, drumming, and a master class on Intellectual Property Rights, led by Traver Mudzonga.

A central highlight of the festival was the captivating array of theatre productions spanning Zimbabwe and two other countries. Notable performances included “Indlela” from South Africa, directed by Bongani B Masango, and “Flesh and Blood” from Zambia, directed by Kevin Mulenga. Zimbabwe contributed eight productions, representing diverse regions such as Lupane, Gwanda, Hwange, Chimanimani, Bulawayo, and Harare.

Funded by Culture Fund and the European Union Delegation to Zimbabwe, and supported by Jasen Mphepo Little Theatre and the University of Zimbabwe, this inaugural edition marked a significant milestone in the regional theatre landscape.

Adrian “Drivo” Musa, representing Jahunda Community Arts, expressed gratitude for the opportunity to participate in this historic festival. Their performance of “The Dark Years,” delving into a young girl’s plight in Matabeleland South during the tumultuous times of 1983, resonated deeply with audiences. The play, crafted with storytelling, narration, and flashbacks, aims to foster true peace, healing, and reconciliation.

The festival has opened new avenues for Jahunda Community Arts, with plans for further showcases in Gwanda, Lupane State University, and Zambia, demonstrating the enduring impact of theatre in addressing critical social issues.

– @mthabisi_mthire

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