Angela Sibanda, Showbiz Reporter
Midlands State University (MSU) has revealed that it is ready to launch its first-ever television series Tsvakai which is set to première on Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (Zbc) television this month.
After a realisation that most film students over the past years have been graduating with knowledge of theories which they failed to apply in the field, universities in Zimbabwe are now focusing on student-produced films as a way of boosting student capabilities after college.
Starring another film lecturer Brighton Munaku (Pablo) who plays the role of one of the main actors Dambudzo, the film features students from different programmes and a few community members.
It is the story of Tsvakai (Tafadzwa Mavhura) and Dambudzo who are on a quest to change their community through innovations that are meant to bring back the appreciation of indigenous knowledge systems and also highlights some of the traditional costumes, food, games and household chores that existed in Zimbabwe prior to modern cultures.
Given Mufori, a student is the head of the script writing which he is working on with three other students under the supervision of the director, Godknows Chera.
The film features seven Zimbabwean official indigenous languages and was shot in Mberengwa’s Mutsime village under Chief Chizungu.
Through its department of media, communications, film and theatre arts based in Zvishavane campus, the university produced a film titled Tsvakai which was later developed into a feature film.
The film which was directed by film lecturer Chera scooped the first prize at the Varsity Film Expo which was held in Bulawayo last year.
This became a great achievement and motivation for the department and led to the idea of developing the film into a series.
In an interview with Chronicle Showbiz, Chera said the main characters of the story go through challenges that will prompt to take action towards a goal of freeing themselves and the community at large.
“Tsvakai the character is the central force towards the attainment of a better community. A young lady, Tsvakai not only does she assume the name of the film but rather takes the responsibility of being a female figure who advocates and searches for knowledge and wisdom for the development of her community.
“The series also centres on ‘Dambudzo’ who was victimised in his quest to try and improve social and economic life among his people and this came with a lot of framing in the process but in the end, he was vindicated,” he said.
He also revealed that the department has produced outstanding individuals who have built reputable names in the film industry.
“We look for talent and it doesn’t matter which programme the student is from but the majority of our actors are from our department of Media, Communication, Film and Theatre Arts who join through auditions or are hand-picked once we discover their talents.
“After graduation, we replace students but most of them continue working with us in our productions and we are proud to have taught and had an impact on the careers of people like the writer and director of the popular Wadiwa Wepamoyo series Derby Bheta, Wenera writer Daudi Phiri and Bulawayo producer Rasquisity among others,” said Chera.
Tsvakai is however, not the first MSU-produced film to feature on national television as short films such as Tore the tribe, Kubusha, Things we do for love and Mberengwa struggles were aired on television and were directed by the same person.
The film and theatre team is also involved in several community projects where they get to perform during campaigns.
Last month, the film and theatre group gave an emotional performance during the university’s mental health awareness which centred more on drug abuse among young people highlighting both short-term and long-term effects.
The play which also touches on gender-based violence ended with a scene of a funeral for a man who was a perpetrator of violence and was murdered by his revenging wife who had grown tired of being beaten.
The funeral scene was so emotional that most students failed to hold their tears back and one could not doubt the talent of the students and that of the production team.
Chera said the actors for all productions were elected on merit through auditions regardless of their areas of study.