AN EXCITING generation of women artists are showcasing their different talents at the on-going Intwasa Arts Festival KoBulawayo which opened yesterday.
The festival ends on Sunday.
Talents from the women on the programme vary from music, dance, poetry, to literary arts, craft and theatre.
What is more interesting about the women programmed for this year’s edition is that they were not chosen out of some cheap attempt at gender balancing or affirmative action by organisers of the festival, but they were chosen simply because they were good at what they do and deserve the slots they got.
Of course there have been many attempts to empower women in the arts in various platforms including festivals.
Workshops, seminars and other trainings have been done with the noble idea of empowering women artists.
Performances have been organised to help showcase women talent.
Yet there still exist some strong feelings in the sector that women voices and their stories are still not in the mainstream.
At least with Intwasa women voices, stories and their physical presence is all over the festival programme.
Top on the list of the festival’s women performers are Dudu Manhenga, Uzah Manhenga and Claire Nyakujara who will be strutting their stuff at the Spring Jazz Show to be held at Elite 400 on Thursday.
The Spring Jazz Show has slowly become one of the highlights of the festival and a must-see for jazz lovers.
Also billed to perform is Selmor Mtukudzi, daughter of legendary singer Oliver Mtukudzi.
She is billed to headline the world music night at the same venue on Friday evening.
Nobuntu, the all–female a cappella group and probably Bulawayo’s musical find of the year, are part of the festival and will share the stage with female poets in a show dubbed “Women, Wine and Words”.
Poetry has also some interesting names. The young women are going on stage and will showcase their mastery of the genre.
Those are young women who weave words and emotions into thought-provoking performances.
There are the likes of S’thandazile Dube, Nomashawekazi Damasane, Wadzanai Chiuriri, Zana K, Tracey Sibanda and many others.
In theatre the Nhimbe Trust-supported Women in Theatre project will present their play Song of a Woman at Bulawayo Theatre. The play is a woman’s story, told by mostly a cast of women.
Thembelihle Moyo directed the play and Nhlalo Dube produced it. Botswana’s Gheto Waves Production is also pushing women’s stories with their play Stronger Women.
And as the festival progresses and we move on to other projects and events, there will always be questions we need to constantly ask ourselves especially about woman development and empowerment.
Questions like: Has our attitude towards women artists changed? Is the sector changing the way it treats or perceives women in the arts? Are we, as artists, changing the way we are portraying women in works of art? Are we providing enough platforms for women to tell their own stories?
Support women artists by attending their shows. Intwasa has given them a platform and it is now up to you to support them and turn them into shinning stars.
Raisedon Baya, is the director of Intwasa Arts Festival KoBulawayo