Zimbabwe music and poetry in Poland
Angela Sibanda, [email protected]
MANY people think that when Africans move to Western countries, they lose touch with their culture and traditions. They assume that living in a different environment makes it hard for them to maintain their identity and values. However, this is not the case for the African community in Poland, which has found a way to keep their heritage alive through an annual event called the “Celebration Concert”.
The ‘Celebration Concert’ was launched last year to mark Africa Day, a day that commemorates the founding of the African Union and celebrates the diversity and achievements of the continent. The event brings together Africans from different countries and backgrounds to share their talents and express their pride in their roots. The concert features music and poetry performances by various artistes, some of whom are from Zimbabwe.
Last year’s concert, which was held in Lublin, a city in eastern Poland, attracted about 250 people and showcased the rich and vibrant culture of Africa. Among the performers were award-winning Zimbabwean poet Mthulisi Ndlovu (Khulu Gatsheni), who recited his poems in Ndebele and English. The event was a success and received positive feedback from the audience.
This year’s edition, which took place in May, was even bigger and better, drawing more than 650 people from different African nationalities. The concert had a more spiritual theme, as it featured 10 gospel groups that sang and danced to songs in various African languages. The event was a testimony of the unity and solidarity among the African diaspora in Poland, as they celebrated their faith and culture together.
The organiser of the event, Sean Magavu, is a Kwekwe-born arts promoter who won the Polish Crane Award last year for his contribution to the promotion of African culture in Poland. He said that the “Celebration Concert” was a way of honouring and appreciating the diversity and beauty of Africa, as well as creating a sense of belonging and home for the Africans living in Poland.
“We always find something to celebrate, hence the name Celebration Concert.
“This is a free event for everyone as we unite and celebrate our oneness. For this year this became the most attended African event in the country,” said Magavu.
Poland is one of the most popular destinations for Africans who want to pursue higher education, especially in the medical field. Many Africans who live in Poland face challenges such as language barriers, cultural differences, and discrimination. However, they also find support and friendship among their fellow Africans, who form their own social networks and communities. Through events like the “Celebration Concert”, they are able to connect with each other and enjoy a taste of home.
Valentine Mpofu from Bulawayo who has been living in Poland for two years, said that attending the concert made her feel closer to her identity and heritage. She said she missed the musical events and concerts that she used to attend in her hometown, and that the Celebration Concert gave her an opportunity to relive those memories and have fun.
“I am from Bulawayo, and it is a place of musical events and concerts throughout. Having such concerts this side, away from home brings us closer to our own identity. This side can get really lonely at times and we have a lot to miss about home.
“For me, the Celebration Concert feels like home away from home, even if it’s for just a day. It is a time for us to be us, sing songs in our own native languages and dance the way we do back home,” she said.
Millicent Musarandega, who is from Rusape and has been in Poland for less than a year, said that adapting to the new environment was difficult and that she wished she could visit her home more often. However, she said that she found comfort and family in the African Christian societies that she joined, and that the time of worship at the concert was uplifting and inspiring.
“I have always been away from home because I learnt in boarding school, but I always had the option of visiting home now and then. The absence of that option since I got here has been a bit depressing.
“Through the African Christian societies that are here, I have adapted and found family among fellow Africans. The time of worship is always something to look up to because it connects us back to our roots and I am really grateful for the availability of such platforms,” she said.
The Celebration Concert is a unique and remarkable event that showcases the resilience and creativity of the African diaspora in Poland. It is a platform that allows them to express their identity, culture, and faith in a positive and joyful way. It is also a way of educating and engaging with the Polish society and other nationalities, and promoting mutual understanding and respect. The event is a celebration of Africa and its people, and a reminder of their roots and values.