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‘Cont Mhlanga deserves hero status’ – NewsDay

BY WINSTONE ANTONIO
THE late celebrated theatre doyen Cont Mhlanga’s successful career in the creative sector was not a fluke, but pure talent and his prowess speaks to a character deserving hero status, creatives told NewsDay Life & Style.

For the award-winning playwright, actor and theatre director, who mentored a number of artists in dance, music, film and theatre, anything short of national hero status would be an insult to his contribution to national unity through the arts, they insisted.

Founder of Amakhosi Theatre, Mhlanga succumbed to pneumonia on Monday morning at United Bulawayo Hospitals.

He was 64.

In recognition of Mhlanga’s contribution to the creative industry, President Emmerson Mnangagwa granted a State-assisted funeral, an honour that has attracted mixed feelings among creatives and citizens.

The government’s decision not to accord Mhlanga hero status has divided public opinion igniting conversation not only on the showbiz scene, but also across digital platforms on what criteria is used to bestow hero status.

An award-winning playwright and arts administrator Raisedon Baya believes Mhlanga was not an ordinary playwright and director.

“He (Mhlanga) was a leader. He was a thinker. He was a pioneer. He was a visionary. He was so many things,” he said.

“The best way to honour him was to give him national honours. We must not just mourn him, but celebrate his legacy.”

Former information minister Jonathan Moyo said: “Cont was a national hero; he deserves that status; his legacy is a national treasure for posterity.”

Centre For Innovation and Technology founder and director Zenzele Ndebele, said:  “But why was Cont Mhlanga not granted national (hero) status? Was he not Zimbabwean enough? Was he not Zanu PF enough? What criteria are used to grant someone a hero status?  #Asakhe.”

J’Ella said: “Let us normalise independence from Zanu PF to grant hero status. Heroes Acre has nothing to do with the nation. It is and has always been a Zanu PF affair. Where we are going as a country, the people (will) get to declare their heroes. uBaba Mhlanga was both a hometown hero and national hero.”

“If Soul Jah Love was conferred with a liberation hero status for his indelible contribution to the arts sector, what is hard with conferring the same honour of national hero status to Cont Mhlanga?,” quipped Brighton Ncube.

Meanwhile, National Arts Council of Zimbabwe executive director Nicholas Moyo yesterday said preparations for taking the theatre icon to his final resting place were going on smoothly.

In a statement, Moyo said the organising team comprised Mhlanga’s family members, fellow artists, Bulawayo City Council and government officials.

“The team is grateful to the community of Bulawayo for the goodwill offered for various services to be provided in order to accord the deceased a funeral befitting his status and legacy,” Moyo said.

“The family wishes to extend its gratitude to President Emmerson Mnangagwa and government for according Mhlanga a State-assisted funeral. This has gone a long way in addressing some key costs of services associated with a funeral of this magnitude.”

Moyo further indicated that a send-off memorial service to celebrate Mhlanga’s life and honour his contribution to Zimbabwe’s arts and culture sector and beyond will be held tomorrow at 9am at Bulawayo Amphitheatre.

“A drive through the city will be done before the funeral cortege proceed to Lupane for the burial, which will be held on Saturday morning,” Moyo said, adding that the memorial service was moved to a bigger venue given the huge public interests this funeral had raised.

“Another family service will be held at Amakhosi Township Square in the morning of Friday (tomorrow). The family would like to thank those who have stood by them through this very difficult time and are eternally grateful for all the support and presence from all over the world.”

Mhlanga is survived by wife Thembi Ngwabi and six children (three boys and three girls).

Mourners are gathered at House number 488 Nguboyenja, Bulawayo.

  • Follow Winstone on Twitter @widzonato

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How Black women and queer communities are shaping the future of African electronic music – Mixmag

What many of the perpetuators of toxic practices need to understand is that powerful men are not the ones who will determine the future of Africa’s music industry. More and more women are taking up positions of power in dance music and the industry at large, changing the landscape for the women around them. Women doing tireless work behind the scenes, such as Eva DXB who founded the UAE’s first amapiano scene at Urban Black Events and is now partnered with Universal Music; Zimbabwean-South African Jackie Queens who offers ear, shoulder and stage to women across the content at her company Bae Electronica has earned the industry’s respect as an artist, manager and educator; Kenya’s Faiza Hersi of Soul Headquarters offers a strong alternative to male promoters in Nairobi; Apple Music’s Athandiwe Ntshinga who ideated the African dance music stable Isgubhu, is exponentially growing dance-artist’s international reach; not to mention music managers and moguls Thuli Keupile, Sibu Mabena, Kamo Mailula, Janice Phiri, Reba Shai and Zethu Gqola who have all made their presence felt internationally. African women who were once considered “difficult,” “stuck up,” or “pretty girls won’t can’t DJ” are taking high-powered positions as curators, editors, label bosses and agents.

Tendai Kathemba is a Zimbabwean-born advocate and wellness counsellor based in Cape Town, South Africa, specialising in gender dynamics and holistic mental health, which is particularly difficult to navigate for Africans operating in a world governed by Western influence.

“It is encouraging that Black African women have been, are and continue to re-define themselves and re-imagine different narratives as we carry on the baton from our ancestors,” she says. “It is important to remain critical thinkers as African women, especially in light of feminist movements that exist largely to serve white women, and embodies Western ways of being. As Africans we have a history that has been intentionally and systematically suppressed over centuries by Western civilisation. Many of our African ancestors lived in matriarchal communities, where women were held in high regard and not viewed as threatening and/or inferior to men, however, it is not to say Africa existed in utopia and gender dynamics did not exist. Both feminine and masculine energies (which everyone has) have existed as a duality since the beginning of life. There is no separation. Both are equal and need each other. They do manifest and impact differently, and if we can get to a point of honouring nature, learning from it and recognizing that these power dynamics which have resulted in gender wars are on the whole unnatural and alien, will ultimately destroy us all if we don’t take time to understand who we truly are.”

Whatever your ideas or tastes are about who should do what, when and how, we must remember why dance music exists for Africans, both past and present. Our music far surpasses entertainment, and carries our understanding of who we are, from the superficiality of our skin through to the depths of our bloodlines reaching across generations. Drumbeats that originated on the continent aeons ago were uprooted and dragged across the ocean, our sense of self embedded in our chants and melodies as Africans became enslaved on foreign lands; nestled, nurtured and rebuilt in warehouses for the weary and brought to prominence by the bold, finally finding their way back to Africa when its people needed freedom and acceptance more than ever. It’s music that is meant to unify, liberate and express. Our drum beats, chants and melodies offer a collective experience that is not meant to keep others out and chosen ones in; it’s a chance for the marginalised to find safety and kinship, to cultivate a fullness of living; a chance to remember our pioneers and encourage new voices to speak our futures into existence. A chance for everyone who loves music and is able to move and be moved to “come one”.

We may not see the improvement we need in this lifetime as progress happens so slowly, but conversations like these create community, and communities share the load while keeping each other moving, dancing toward the future we know our music can bring us to. The only way we can make these ideas real is if we damp down the noise and use this moment to fight the silence in harmony – with ourselves, each other and the masculine and feminine energies we all possess.

If you or anyone you know needs someone safe and understanding to talk to about your similar experiences, feel free to contact Tendai at tendai@abantulives.com.

Shiba Melissa Mazaza is a freelance writer, follow her on Instagram

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British Council, BHC and Paoa FM brings new UK music to the Happy Isles – Solomon Star

It is here, new, hot and happening on Paoa FM at 12 noon this Saturday 13th August 2022. The British Council’s Selector Radio, an hour of new UK Music on each show.

Every Saturday Selector Radio willshare the best new UK music with the world. They play music from any artist, any band and any genre as long as it’s new and exciting. Each week Selector puts together an eclectic playlist of music and artists who are leading the way in UK music.

Presented by BBC Radio 1 Xtra’s Jamz Supernova, it is an insight to the bubbling underground scenes from every corner of the UK. Each week’s show features guest interviews with emerging artists or exciting people in the music industry. The show also provides a gateway to music beyond the UK with features from countries where the show is broadcast, dipping into the key sounds emerging around the world.

Selector is broadcast to over 30 countries around the world including Cuba, China, Zimbabwe, Ukraine, Slovakia, Spain and Mexico and has a global audience of over 4 million listeners.

In Solomon Islands Selector will be broadcast on Paoa FM. It is the largest FM radio station in the Solomon Islands, broadcasting to two-thirds of the country’s population. They play top hits, including Reggae, and local stars. Paoa FM covers Guadalcanal, Malaita, Central, Russell provinces and parts of Isabel and Makira Ulawa provinces.

With Selector Radio launching this Saturday, you can now listen to UK music at 12pm Saturdays each week besides Paoa FM’s usual top of the Hour news bulletins each day to keep up-to-date with the latest news in Solomon Islands.

British High Commissioner to Solomon Islands and Nauru, His Excellency Thomas Coward said:

“I can’t wait to hear new UK music in Solomon Islands. Music has the power to bring us together and this is a celebration of the friendship between the UK and Solomon Islands.”  

British CouncilDirector for Aotearoa New Zealand and the Pacific, Natasha Beckman said:

“We are delighted to share the best of new music from the UK here in Solomon Islands. I hope we can use this to do more to connect with each other through arts, culture and creativity.”

Ahead of this Saturday’s launch and the first ever show, Paoa FM’s General Manager, an excited Joel Samuel Lamani said:

“We are so excited to have this programme on Paoa FM. Connecting us to the UK, keeping us up to date with what the people in the UK are listening to.

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Seven Charged in Brutal South Africa Gang Rape – VOA Africa

The National Prosecuting Authority in South Africa says at least 14 men out of dozens arrested face rape charges in an attack on a group of women who were making a music video earlier this month.

A court on Wednesday charged seven men in connection with the gang rape, prosecuting authority spokeswoman Phindi Louw Mjonondwane told VOA, adding that seven more would face rape charges tomorrow.

They are all part of the 80 men initially arrested in a major police sweep following the incident, she confirmed.

The women had been making a music video two weeks earlier in the mining area of Krugersdorp outside Johannesburg when they were attacked by a group of masked, armed men.

Mjonondwane said all of those charged with rape were foreign nationals, including from Lesotho and Zimbabwe.

“Seven accused appeared at the Krugersdorp Magistrate’s Court facing charges ranging from multiple counts of rape, sexual assault, contravention of the immigration act, as well as robbery with aggravating circumstances,” she said.

Many of those arrested are believed to work as illegal miners, known here as zama-zamas. The incident has sparked anger in local communities, as well as xenophobia, with mobs attacking the zama-zamas.

Police had said they would use DNA kits to try to identify the alleged attackers from among those rounded up, as well as a police lineup. However, Mjonondwane would not comment on how those charged had been identified.

Despite having a very high rate of rape and gender-based violence, South Africa — which celebrated Women’s Day on Tuesday — was shocked by the brutal attack.

Police recorded more than 36,000 rapes in fiscal 2020-21.

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