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Tell the Zimbabwean story, artists challenged

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Tell the Zimbabwean story, artists challenged

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LOCAL artists should tell the Zimbabwean story through their work and resist the temptation to be manipulated by Western entities through short term gains as that will deprive present and future generations a chance to appreciate the world through reflections of their art, President Mnangagwa has said.

In this vein, he said Government is committed to support the arts and creative industry given that it provides communities’ identity and character, as the Second Republic recognises the need to create an environment for holistic national development.

This includes creative cultural industries considered among top five largest economic sectors worldwide.

President Mnangagwa said this yesterday at a private preview of the “Stars are Bright Exhibition,” at National Arts Gallery in Harare, an event meant to showcase talent by a collection of artworks created by predominantly young black students at Cyrene Mission School near Bulawayo more than 70 years ago.

The Mission was the first school in Zimbabwe to offer art as an official subject and their artwork has been absent from Zimbabwe for over 70 years.

It was pleasing, said President Mnangagwa, that after a successful tour of Europe and the final exhibition of Cyrene students’ work in London, the artworks were packed and stored only to be noticed fortuitously.

“The true story of our country has not yet been fully told. I, thus, challenge artists and researchers to unravel and tell the uncorrupted Zimbabwean story, including through creative works, across various fields. I further call upon artists, across all genres within the industry, to understand their power, value and worth.

“Do not allow yourselves to be manipulated by some Western entities for their own dubious agenda. Some of them may offer you short-term gains which will curtail and defile your artistic potential and creative independence. Yet others may attempt to use you to subvert your own country as well as deprive present and future generations of hearing and seeing the world through the reflections of your artworks.

“I, therefore, challenge artists and those in the creative cultural industries in general, to continue being patriotic and using their talent and gifts to advance unity, peace and our country’s national development agenda.”

He said the Second Republic recognised the need to create an environment for holistic national development, adding that beyond a modern and industrialised economy, it was critically important to invest in sectors that feed and drive the soul and give communities, and the nation as a whole, identity and character.

“Worldwide, creative cultural industries are considered one of the top five largest economic sectors in terms of turnover after financial services, information technology, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology as well as tourism. Hence, as an Administration, we remain committed to supporting and promoting the creative cultural industries,” he said.

He implored the church to continue partnering and complementing initiatives which advance Zimbabwe’s national development narrative in close liaison with the Government.

“The Church and the State are indispensable partners in our quest for a higher quality of life for our people and a more prosperous nation,” he said.

Added to that, President Mnangagwa called for the unconditional return of the country’s symbols of heritage, artefacts and creative works from some Western nations but noted that discussions around the issue were progressing well.

“The art lay neglected for a period of 25 years, undamaged at the Church. It was only in 1978, when the Church was formally de-consecrated, that the abandoned boxes were discovered.

“Due to sheer coincidence and fate, an employee of London Architectural Salvage and Supply Company (LASSCO), the organisation which was charged with inspecting the boxes, was a Zimbabwean. He recognised the name Cyrene and the significance of the treasure trove he had stumbled upon.

“Today, after having spent 70 years away from their homeland, these astonishing works of art are finally back home to be viewed,” he said.

He commended the Curtain Foundation, represented by the Honde Valley Hydro Electric Power Trust for ensuring that this collection of art was preserved and safeguarded.

President Mnangagwa also hailed the National Gallery of Zimbabwe which ensured that the artwork and cultural heritage were re-united with members of the family of artists who created it.

Some of the family members who attended the event include broadcaster, Leander Kandiyero, representing Caxton Kandiyero, Gift and Tafadzwa Sango-Moyo representing Livingstone Sango and Deputy Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Reverend Paul Damasane representing his father, Mathias Damasane and other family members that included Timothy Dhlodhlo Msindazi.

Vice President Constantino Chiwenga said the exhibition showed the country’s rich culture which he said will never die.

He reiterated the need for the repatriation of the remaining artefacts that were taken by colonialists.

Speaking on behalf of family members, Rev Damasane said while his father never told them that he was an artist, he allowed them to showcase their artistic talent.

“He allowed us as children to express our artistic talent. That is why I am a poet and my second daughter is also an artist,” said Rev Damasane.

In an interview, Kandiyero said as a family they were not aware that their forefather was into arts during his formative stages.

“It is an emotional time because we were not aware of this art and pictures. My aunts who were here were also not aware. You can imagine what it means to us. It is emotional but we are proud of it,” said Mr Kandiyero. Herald

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