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Creative voices on Unity Day

BY WINSTONE ANTONIO/SHARON SIBINDI

YESTERDAY, Zimbabwe celebrated Unity Day in commemoration of the Unity Accord signed in 1987 by the late former President Robert Mugabe and late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo.

In celebrating the day, many events are held on the showbiz scene across the country. However, this year the outbreak of COVID-19 has affected many of such events.

NewsDay Life & Style spoke to creatives to find out their understanding of the day.

Edith WeUtonga, Afro-jazz sensation and Zimbabwe Union of Musicians interim president

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“Unity Day is like any other day really, and for Zimbabwean artists like me, we are far from being united for a cause. The cliques, the divides are all the louder and clearer and it is worrying.

Whatever they sought to achieve politically has led to most of these divides even in the arts and it is sad.”

Elvas Mari, former National Arts Council of Zimbabwe director

“From the arts side, arts being an expression of culture unity is when different communities and people are given freedom to express their culture. The 2005 Unesco (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) Diversity of Cultural Expression to which Zimbabwe is a signatory, does emphasise this. This freedom is especially supported and facilitated by the State through an enabling environment for its enjoyment. Cultural freedom is the software of unity among people in any community or country,” he said

Joe Njagu, renowned filmmaker

“As an artist well, I replace unity with collaboration, it’s what we need to do to prosper. It’s about putting differences aside and focusing on a common goal or vision. I yearn for the day we, artists, really embrace that and unite. Happy Unity Day everyone and happy holidays.”

Tafadzwa Mukaro, gospel singer

“As a gospel artiste, Unity Day is a very important day which fortifies our Christian belief that a community should be united and love each other without discrimination. Ephesians 4:3 says: “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace and Psalm 133:1 says: “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.

“I have grown to appreciate that from the studio to performing with a band you need to unite with everybody to achieve great productions. I am so proud and happy of how gospel artistes are now uniting and working well to collaborate to produce amazing productions.”

Mercy Mushaninga, modelling guru

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“This Unity Day is a special day as we don’t have many of our own holidays like in South Africa and Zambia. In Zimbabwe we celebrate those holidays that are globally celebrated as we don’t have many of our unique holidays so Unity Day must be taken as a special day for us.”

Josh Changa, filmmaker

“Most artists want to ride on the day. It’s just another survival day in the concrete jungle with little or no value because nothing really is done that truly unifies us as a nation.”

Adiona Maboreke-Chidzonga, neo-soul songbird

“Unity Day started off as two political parties coming together, but I now interpret it as people coming together for a good purpose, which is living in peace and harmony. God bless Zimbabwe.

“Unity Day is one of the most overlooked holidays here, but I feel it is very important. With everything happening, the COVID-19 pandemic and everything else, we, as a people, should unite and move forward in love and peace. 2020 was a trying year and it taught me that I need human beings more than I thought I did.”

Tinashe Nelson Bonzo, actor

“Our leaders just gave us an example of how our society should be like. As artists we should desist from the habit of having cliques and small groups, but rather work together for the betterment of our industry and the economy of our country at large.”

Diana Samkange, Afro-jazz musician

“As artistes, we preserve Unity day as we are channels of preaching peace to the rest of the people in the country. It is our duty as public figures to teach new generations on how important such holidays are.”

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Desire Moyo, Victory Siyanqoba director, poet and activist

“A stillbirth of a great idea. We have been made to hero-worship political hypocrites. Composed rich songs and theatre shows and poems on so-called unity yet up to today we are still trapped in the deep mess of a divided nation.”

Samantha Ncube Mahlangu, United Kingdom-based actor

“We, therefore, celebrate tolerance and unity among ourselves as a nation. The freedom of expression that we have as artists as we express ourselves through different forms of art.”

Butholezwe Nyathi, National Gallery of Zimbabwe (Bulawayo)

“The creative community has the duty to support the national peace-building project through various creative productions.”

Lewis Ndlovu, Drums of Peace founder

“United we stand, divided we perish. I personally support this day and urge my peers to take this day seriously. This also helps us as artists to understand the meaning and importance in our creativity not to create and or present content on tribal grounds.

“I urge the government to at least commission artists’ and creatives to do more in promoting and encouraging unity in our beautiful Zimbabwe. I could create something using my drums.”

Matesu Dube, Umkhathi Theatre Works

“Unity Day is meant to unite everyone in the arts industry regardless of tribe or region but since this Unity Day was declared, disunity has become worse and regionalism is at play in the arts sector.”

Petros Ndhlovu, Shangano Arts Trust director
“It should be the day which unites artists across the country and a day where artists can interact, have collaborations and share experiences, that is if all things are okay.”

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