Over the weekend, at Msiteli High School in Mpopoma, scores of school pupils participated in an inaugural event initiated by renowned poet and creative Albert Nyathi. The event unearthed several talented youngsters who took turns to expose their raw talent to an audience of teachers, parents and judges drawn from the arts fraternity such as Bulawayo Arts Award winner comedian Ntando Moyo, Ramsey Kasawaya, Liqhwa Ncube, Nkululenko Nkala and this writer.
IndependentXtra’s Admire Kudita had an interview with Albert Nyathi (AN) and Butho Nyathi (BN) of Amagugu International Heritage Centre, one of the event’s partners. Below are the excerpts:
AK: Can you give a background to the programme, who is your funding partner?
AN: Partners include Hector Chikowore (Hector Chikowore’s company is called Creative Media Works), CnC Productions is a partner. Dr (Solomon) Guramatunhu, Dr Daniel Low-Beer, Dr Shiva of ZimHealth, Msiteli High School, Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and of course, myeself.
AK: Tell me your personal feelings about what happened on Saturday?
AN: I was touched, I was moved. Let me make it as elaborate as possible.
ak: Yes, you need to elaborate on this, especially on meeting with Mrs Gwasunda, your former teacher at Msiteli and how she played a role in shaping your love of poetry and literature.
AN: I was taught english language by Mrs Gwasunda close to four decades ago. She looks the same. She is still my teacher, my mother. She helped me quite a great deal. She was one of my major inspirations behind my writing. I was equally impressed by the young poets. There was fierce competition, especially at primary school level. We will, with effect from next year, separate the two entities, primary and secondary, as it becomes unfair to put the two in the same basket. I am naturally disappointed when it comes to written poetry and written essays. The grammar and punctuation leaves a lot to be desired. A lot of work needs to be done. Children must read. As much as the social media is good and makes communication easier, I think learners need to spend their time reading and doing school work and not on social media. Social media could be a disaster for future generations if left unchecked.
AK: I need some comment about the Albert Nyathi Talent Search (ANTS) programme, in terms of numbers of participants, schools, your personal observations and involvement in it?
BK: Four primary schools and 18 secondary schools participated. Total of 61 performances. Poetry was the most subscribed, with 27 acts. No entries for comedy. My role was to lead the coordination of the ANTS, particularly liaising with schools and ensuring all systems are in place. As regards observations: we celebrate that the talent search was successfully revived and the 2017 edition will be used as a pilot to craft the best working format for future editions of the initiative. Support by host school was amazing as they supported stage and tent hire. This speaks to local ownership of the initiative. Students showed they needed the venture, thus the about 400 learners attended. Ants can only grow bigger going forward.
AK: What was your standout moment?
BK: Young Methembe Moyo punching the air after being called out as third best poet. He was the youngest prize recipient of the day.
AK: What have you learnt from Albert Nyathi?
BK: Through ANTS, Albert Nyathi is giving back to the community and that is what all of us in the creative community and beyond need to do. Any intervention of any magnitude can make a difference in the lives of many
AK: Let’s talk about the festival now. Can you give back ground?
BK: The Matobo Heritage Festival is birthed in response to the new education curriculum that provides in absolute terms performance and visual arts tutelage. The festival was also motivated by desire to identify, nurture and promote rural-based artists. Furthermore, Matobo was declared by Unesco as a World Heritage Site in 2003. The festival seeks to promote the various cultural heritage elements reposed within the site and also support the active participation of local communities in the preservation of the cultural heritage of Matobo. The festival will also support the active participation of Matobo artists and villagers in the local tourism value chain.
AK: Who is it for?
BK: The primary target audience of the festival are primary, secondary and tertiary institutions of learning. Learners will experience various cultural heritage elements such as visits to rock art sites, storytelling, visit to the Njelele shrine keeper, traditional games, dance and music, village tours, traditional food, film screenings and many more.
The only out-of-Matobo activity is the Weaving Through Design exhibition that will be held at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo on August 3. The Exhibition is set to feature a new range of basketry products by Matobo artisans following an intensive design and production mentorship support programme. The last day of the festival, August 5, sees the festival go contemporary by featuring groups such as Djembe Monks and Drums of Peace, for a collaborative drumming act. Nobuntu will also feature alongside Sunduza for an imbube treat. August 5 is your typical family day out.
The festival is building on standard and daily programming activities at Amagugu International Heritage Festival. The festival adds value by expanding the range of activities and scope of public participation over a designated number of days. Our theme is: “Enhancing Awareness of Indigenous Cultural Heritage” and will be held between July 31 and August 5.
Amagugu is 60km along the Bulawayo-Kezi road.