By Leeroy Gono
Farai Chinyama and Simbarashe Chikukwa have been appointed as the Festival Coordinators for the Youth Cultural Arts Festival (YOCAF).
Both of them have participated at Yocaf for over a decade and were part of the Walter Muparutsa Mentorship Programme run by the Youth Cultural Arts Festival.
Farai Chinyama is a legal practitioner, conveyancer and notary public. She has been massively involved with Yocaf since 2012,winning the Best Actress Award. Chikukwa came back from Turkey with a BSc in Civil and Environmental engineering and is now a young entrepreneur in Construction. He has been actively involved with Yocaf, winning the Best Actor award.
Yocaf founder and artistic director, Leeroy ‘Cde Leeroy’ Gono, confirmed the latest developments.
“I am pleased with the appointment of Chinyama and Chikukwa as our festival coordinators. Chinyama will be based in Harare and Chikukwa in Masvingo. They both exhibit the Yocaf DNA, having been part of the family for quite a significant period. They are a true reflection of what Yocaf is about and I could not be more proud. They were trained under the Walter Muparutsa Mentorship Programme and were nominated for the National Arts and Merit Awards whilst they were still in high school. YOCAF does not view talent merely as a source of entertainment, but rather capitalizes on its capacity to act as a vehicle for self-development, nation building, arts education, and the facilitation of social cohesion right from the ground up,” he said.
“Chinyama and Chikukwa join us at an exciting time of growth and restructuring, their position will have overall input across all aspects of festival activity, from key stakeholders and public funders to the development of new strategies for youth and audience engagement and content models.”
Chikukwa said he feels honoured by the appointment, “This is another opportunity to finally showcase what I have always lived in, l get to have an opportunity to help others live and earn from what they are good at in terms of arts and culture.”
An ecstatic Chinyama said, “I have always been an arts fanatic and I am so appreciative of the grooming I received when I was still in school and I will look at such grooming for all the Youth in the country.”
Cde Leeroy added, “programmes like Yocaf must not be left to individuals alone, these are programmes that demand national resources. There is need for the government to get involved extensively is such initiatives. This is actually a government obligation, culture is in our constitution and, therefore, the obligation is upon government to ensure that cultural activities like those being furthered by Yocaf are supported.”
Yocaf, one of Zimbabwe’s biggest youth festivals has become a mainstay of development of arts in learning institutions and communities and that has contributed immensely to the growth of the arts industry in the country. With its expansive reach which cuts across both urban and rural communities – Yocaf has become a beacon for young people’s creative expression and consistent artistic platform. Its strategic posture is also focusing in training and educational element. This approach ensures that once the talent is selected, appropriate coaching and mentoring is also offered to prepare them for a brighter future.