Thursday, 7 May 2009

Zimbabwe in Wave of Change

Zimbabwe is right at the heart of the wave of change throughout the entire Continent. This change is coming from the most bizarre places - through dance and movement, music, sculpture, painting and literature.

Take a look at this amazing dancer at the Alick Macheso concert. His movement reflects the desire for the abstract. Listen to how the lyrics are deconstructed and simplified and at the same time notice the complexity of the music. Watch in amazement as all these aspects are brilliantly represented through the flow of movement.

Recently, I met up with an amazing woman, Vivienne Croisette, previously Vivienne Prince and she along with her husband Joseph have been supporting over 200 sculptors just outside Harare for nearly a decade. Through their constant support they have feed over 1000 families. This is quite staggering and when I met her I knew that Zimbabwe was where all the answers lay. The approach to Africa is a long and drawn out affair. Nothing comes easily but the journey is well worth it. Vivienne has shroudly placed herself in the heart of the British establishment and next week will be bravely exhibiting the best of Zimbabwe at the Chelsea Flower Show. Along with Ascot and Wimbledon this is one of the most important dates in the social calender for the British establishment. In effect what Vivienne is doing is giving respectablity to the work produced on African soil. We should appauld her efforts and give her a Knighthood. Back in Harare the expectations are high and enthusiasm addictive but the possibilites are too few and far between but still she has remained firm to Zimbabwe and the artists she represents. Only last week she and her newly born were cautiously drinking from the potentially poisonous cup of Cholera water that flows so freely throughout the country.

Perlagia Mutyavaviri | The Bond
Material: Spring Stone
Date: 2008

Some refer to her as the new Mother Theresa of Africa but unlike Mother T, Mother V asks for nothing in return but to be able to eck out a living from spectacular art being produced in Zimbabwe. Mother V is deeply concerned with the rising levels of HIV/Aids within her own community in Zimbabwe and is doing her up-most to provide food and medicines for those most in need. Every time she returns to Zimbabwe she brings back bundles of clothes and medicines. It has become almost expected of her and so she is considering how the community can be more self-sufficient and less reliant and a little more grateful. Getting blood out of a stone would be the perfect phrase for what she has done over the past decade and these acts of love, support and generousity can not be overlooked and her success is our success and will restore our faith and belief in humankind. So much negativity has come from this rich bread basket of Africa it is now time to see how Zimbabwean creativity can feed us.

The establishment as we know it is about to crumble and the world should watch as the Zimbabwean artists are truly on the march. Modern Zimbabwe should be proud that the best of their Independent Nation is finally making such headway into the British establishment. Great art can change our world and I predict that it will be Contemporary African art that will show us the way spearheaded by the likes of Vivienne Croisette; the paintings by Stephen Garan'anga; the music and dance of Alick Macheso, the stone bending sculpture of Perlagia Mutyavaviri and the passionate words of Petina Gappah, the new Faber and Faber writer.

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