IN a bid to rekindle the cultural flame, a number of youths in Gwanda, have come together and established an arts ensemble — Flame of Jahunda Arts — to celebrate their culture and tradition.
Flame of Jahunda Arts was formed earlier this year with the goal of empowering the youth through various art forms such as theatre, music, poetry and dance.
However, members are not new to this industry, as the group is an amalgamation of a number of acts from the area. Flame of Jahunda Arts, which includes Jahunda Community Arts, saw the need to merge and combine their different acts in order to produce a more polished act.
“Flame of Jahunda Arts is a community-based arts organisation whose main objective is to identify, promote and facilitate growth and sustainable development of various performing art forms such as theatre, music, poetry and dance through organising and facilitation of programmes and activities that enhance the skills of community arts practitioners such as workshops, seminars, talent shows, arts competitions, festivals as well as any other related activities that will help develop and sustain community arts groups,” Adrian Musa, the group director, said.
“Since, performing arts is like a hobby, talent is unlimited and unidentified. A lot of talented artistes give up and end up border jumping to neighbouring South Africa. Some resort to illegal gold panning. Others get caught on the wrong side of the law.
“Most indulge in drug and alcohol abuse as there are no recreational facilities, no employment and the only motivational space to while away time is at a pub or hanging around in trenches and bridges provoking passers-by,” he said.
Flame of Jahunda has found an alcove in the artistically-defunct and starved Gwanda town, despite the abundance of untapped talent in the area.
“There are a number of groups coming from outside Gwanda, yet Gwanda is rich with talent that can service the community. Having been involved in performing arts for over a decade, with practical experiences gained in participation in arts-related programmes and activities from across the country, we feel we have enough experience and capacity to uplift performing arts in Gwanda through this project,” he said.
Musa revealed the arts ensemble was born out of this starvation and the youth’s urge to resuscitate the art of their forefathers and their elders who formed and nurtured vibrant groups in the past.
“Gone are the days when Gwanda was full of artistic works and activities, with an example of the Matabeleland Aids Council—funded Scapfest annual arts festival in the ’90s, which inspired the birth of several theatre and dance groups who made a name during that time,” he said.
In the past, Gwanda was home to prominent arts practitioners such as Extra Piece Theatre, one of the oldest groups that helped the formation of several arts groups by then, Izintandane Performing Arts, which recorded a radio drama by the ZBC’s Inglam Nyathi, Ukhozi Theatre, Thulamsindo Performing Arts, Amending Peace Performing Arts, Zalabantu Theatre, which performed at a national gala and was broadcast live on national television.
“There were also other groups to emerge such as the Ghetto Smurfs, who had a member identified by Aleck Macheso, Loxion Skull, Ali Sniffers, Whatever Family, Ebony Arts, GDA, a musical group which recorded an album in South Africa, Jahunda community arts, pioneers in theatre and performed across borders and had several plays nominated for awards,” he added.
They said they have been inspired by other arts groups that previously lit the town and surrounding rural communities with fervour, with their performance and as a result Flame of Jahunda is set to rekindle that fire and bring Gwanda back into the limelight.
However, the void left by their predecessors has developed into a rift that is proving too hard to fill due to numerous factors such as financial woes and lack of experience of the upcoming groups.
“Up to date, nothing meaningful and respectable has materialised as far as performing arts is concerned. This is due to lack of professionalism, consistency, management, exposure, markets, performing platforms, documentation and capacity building programmes. This has necessitated the birth of Flame of Jahunda so as to bridge the void through a systematic plan of implementation that will ensure that Flame of Jahunda Arts blazes forever,” added Musa.
The group also offers workshops to other youngsters as part of their community outreach programme, which seeks to enhance an appreciation of culture and tradition by youths.