US-BASED hip hop group, Afar, last week completed a successful four-day tour of Zimbabwe.
The group, which arrived in the country last week on Tuesday, performed live shows in Harare and Bulawayo and conducted
four workshops with young artists, at Pakare Paye Art Centre in Norton, Zimbabwe College of Music in Harare, Amakhosi Theatre Productions in Bulawayo and Umkhathi Theatre Works in Bulawayo’s Njube Surburbs.
The tour was facilitated by the public affairs section of the US embassy in Harare in conjunction with Jazz at Lincoln Center.
It sought to promote cultural exchange by linking local artists to their counterparts in the US.
The band — keyboardist Richard Johnson, vocalist Jason “Jahah” Berry, drummer Che “Black Fist” Marshall, and bassist Demonterious “Double D” Lawrence -— also took time to learn more about local music and traditional instruments during their meetings with various local artists.
The hip hoppers kicked off their schedule in the country with a workshop at Pakare Paye Arts Centre in Norton where they conducted a two-hour workshop with young artists.
Pakare Paye is the brainchild of internationally acclaimed musician Oliver Mtukudzi who also held a brief discussion with members of Afar prior to the workshop.
Mtukudzi was ecstatic about Afar’s visit and described the visit as “an opportunity” for artists to share experiences with the hip hop group. Mtukudzi also explained the vision of the centre.
“Pakare Paye”, said Mtukudzi, “is not a teaching institution, but exists to provide a platform for the youth to showcase their talents”. After discovering their talents, the artists are assisted in recording their productions and connected to the right people.
During the workshops, discussions focused on rehearsals and the role of communication during live performances. The group listened to, and commented on, performances from local groups. Local artists were also given an opportunity to comment on Afar’s music. Afar’s band leader, Richard Johnson aka Rjjazz, also took time to explain the values informing hip hop music.
“Most people say that hip hop is associated with a lot of swearing and bad language. In the same manner, it can be used to promote positive messages. It is very much shaped by what the audience wants,” said Johnson during one of the workshops.
“I felt there was need for the creation of a band with a positive image different from the culture that had been created by our predecessors, a culture that produced music bent on cursing accompanied by bad videos”, said Johnson. — Own Correspondent.