Youths applaud Art for Peace Concert initiative but…

NYDT has held a first of its kind “Arts for Peace Concert” to promote peace building and transitional justice through art forms in Zimbabwe. More than 250 young people from in and around the constituency gathered at Nkulumane Hall to watch 10 arts groups perform around the theme ‘Youths Building Peace in Zimbabwe’.
Some of the groups which performed include Isazi, Syfo, Victory Siyanqoba, Nothando, Ntando, Sithandazile, MPPA, Umdumo Wesizwe, Dumi Mhlanga and Nketa High School Drama Club, all drawn from the constituency.
“Art is a universal language and is performed on universal platforms which makes it easy to appeal to different groups of people at the same time” said Bhekumusa Moyo, programmes manager for NYDT. “This arts concert is meant to reach out to a diverse group of youths because they can get the message through music, poetry and drama amongst other art forms” said Moyo.

Umdumo Wesizwe thrill the crowds at Nkulumane's Arts for Peace Concert before police stopped the event

In delivering his welcome remarks, the Mayor of Bulawayo Councilor Thaba Moyo urged young people to tap talent within themselves through art which is one of the most entertaining and yet educative form of expressions. His Worship encouraged youths to embrace a culture of peace in their respective communities. He urged young people to be actively involved in community development initiatives and to counter societal stereotypes that view young people as a misguided group . Councillors Bent and Malaba also graced the event.
NYDT Programmes Manager Mmeli Dube emphasized the importance of the arts as developmental tool that seeks to equip young people with positive leadership attributes.
“Art is one of the biggest employers of young people in our society today and must be maximized as a tool of empowering, developing and transforming our communities into vibrant, democratic and peaceful zones” Dube said.
The arts for peace concert was run under the auspices of the Youth Peace Building Project which seeks to promote a culture of peace and tolerance among young people of different socio political divides. Dube also discouraged the young audience from being used as agents of political violence by political leaders as this has produced a breed of highly polarized youths who lack a vision of building a peaceful Zimbabwe.

 

Part of the crowd at the Art for Peace Festival

 

 
Amongst the most loved performers was the group Victory Siyanqoba who gave a massive drama performance addressing the issues of the current political landscape, the corrupt activities and injustices found right across the spectrum of Zimbabwe’s governance system. Through different art forms, youths were urged to refuse to be used as perpetrators of violence but resort to more peaceful means of resolving conflict situations in their communities.
Sithandazile Dube, a social poet underscored the need for the perpetrators of political violence dating back to before independence to acknowledge their wrong doings ,seek forgiveness and pave way for true national healing.
Umdumo Wesizwe a contemporary imbube- gospel outfit gave a splendid performance which was unfortunately cut short by police officers from the Nkulumane peace unit who demanded that the show be stopped due to it not having been cleared by their department.
“It is unfortunate that the police apply the laws differently from the way we understand they should be enacted. What we know is that only political functions can apply for police clearance, while all other meetings such as arts events can simply notify the police and that we did” said NYDT Director Liberman Bhebhe after a heated debate with the police on the application of the law.
Speaking on the sidelines of the concert, young people also expressed disappointment at the police action which brought the show to an abrupt end and at its peak. They described this as a violation of their freedom of expression and association and said it was ironic that police as the official peace keepers were stopping events meant to promote peace in the country and communities.
“We expect police officers to support and show by example that they promote peace, but when they stop such good events which are meant to promote peace and to help young people engage in peaceful conduct we get confused as to what they expect us to do” said a disappointed performer whose arts group did not get to perform at the concert. “We wonder why people who should lead by example speak left but act right” he concluded.
Youths however applauded NYDT for its initiative in bringing such a rare event to their ward and said it created a platform for interaction and networking between artist and other young people. Besides promoting a culture of peace the event also tapped into local talent, helping young people to fully realise art as a tool for sustainable leadership development.

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