Theatre & Graffiti : Saving Zimbabwe

    • AP
    • Publish Date: Sep 26 2016 3:38PM
    • |
    • Updated Date: Sep 27 2016 10:59AM
Theatre & Graffiti : Saving Zimbabwe
Zimbabwean actors are seen during a comedy scene from a show called 'State of The Nation'

HARARE, Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe's economy is falling apart, and police are cracking down on growing anti-government protests. But the country's comedy scene is booming. No subject seems taboo. Even 92-year-old President Robert Mugabe, widely accused of muzzling free speech, is a target. 

Insulting the president can bring a one-year jail term in this southern African country. Nonetheless, the comedians carry on, becoming bolder as fears of speaking out begin to erode. In one skit at a show on Thursday called 'State of the Nation,' an actor playing the first lady, 51-year-old Grace Mugabe, lays her stake to the presidency on hearing the news of the 'death' of her husband, the world's oldest head of state. 'I deserve it. Were any of you cleaning his nappy and wiping the spit off his chin?' she says. She also talks up her own chances of winning elections.

"We have always won, even when I was pushing the old man in a wheelbarrow,' she says, a reference to the real first lady's comment at a political rally last year: ``I will push President Mugabe in the wheelbarrow to bring him to work.' 

Near the end, a fake Mugabe emerges, struggling to walk while scoffing at rumors of his demise. Some in the audience laugh. Others gasp. The real president has joked at the persistent rumors, telling reporters earlier this month: ``It is true that I was dead. And I resurrected. As I always do.'

Zimbabwean actors are seen during a comedy scene from a show called 'State of The Nation', Thursday, Sept,15, 2016. Zimbabwe's comedy scene is booming as the country's economy is tanking, and police are cracking down on growing anti government protests. At the recent State of the Nation show, even 92 year President Robert Mugabe widely accused of muzzling free speech was targeted, Insulting the president attracts a year jail term in this Southern African nation. Nonetheless, the comedians carry on. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

The comedy show played to a packed audience in the capital, Harare. ``State of the Nation' will be a twice-monthly show streaming live on internet, said organizer Davis Guzha, director of Rooftop Promotions. "Comedy allows us to laugh but also to think about our problems at the same time,' said Sam Monro, or Comrade Fatso, a stand-up comedian who runs Zambezi News, a satirical social media show on current affairs.

In everyday life, the state of this once-prosperous country's economy and politics is hardly a laughing matter. Government has failed to pay its close to 300,000 workers, including the military, on time since June.

Industries are closing down, worsening unemployment where more than two-thirds of the population of 13 million survive on informal work, according to the African Development Bank. People line up for hours at banks to access their money as currency woes deepen.

The speculation over the health of Mugabe, this country's only leader since independence from white minority rule in 1980, has only heightened the uncertainty.

Near daily anti-government protests are often met with brute force by police. Some from Zimbabwe have vowed to protest this week outside the United Nations as Mugabe addresses an annual gathering of world leaders.

Yet amid their troubles, Zimbabweans are still laughing at life and at themselves.

While comedy shows attract an upper-class crowd, ordinary people flood social media with jokes, images and video selfies poking fun at the growing problems. "It has allowed Zimbabweans to deal with a lot of taboo issues,' Comrade Fatso told The Associated Press at his offices at Moto Republic, a structure of former shipping containers that houses dozens of artists."

But the politically charged material comes with risk.

In this Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016 photo, a caretaker of a building attempts to rub off anti government graffiti, in the capital Harare. For some in Zimbabwe enough is enough. The words are spelled out in anti government graffiti in the capital, one of several declarations of defiance that authorities have trouble scrubbing away. A two-week protest ban is currently in effect, but opposition groups plan another demonstration on Sept. 16 after it expires. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)


A local actor, Silvanos Mudzvova, was arrested in April for trying to stage a play scripted on Mugabe's statement that at least $15 billion had been looted from a diamond-rich region by joint-venture companies mining there. He was released but then was abducted again last week.

On Thursday, Mudzvova spoke to the AP from a hospital bed in Harare where burns and bruises on his legs and back were visible.

"Six men took me from my home on Tuesday night. They threatened to shoot my family before taking me away,' he said. The actor, who is also an activist, said he was given electric shocks by men who demanded information on his activities.

Others have been brought to court on insult charges for making and circulating jokes about the president. Still, comedy shows have become a staple in the capital. The Shoko Festival for comedy and music is set for later this month.

"We are using comedy as a tool not just to inform but as information for action, using comedy to encourage young people to be active and to be part of movements that are changing our country for the better,' Comrade Fatso said. One of the growing number of young stand-up comedians is Nqobizitha Dube, or Q the Boss, who last month took aim at Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko's 19-month stay in a $400-a-night hotel suite amid Zimbabwe's widespread poverty. 

Opening his act in one of the hotel's auditoriums, the comedian elicited gales of laughter when he said: ``Everybody please clap your hands . We want to thank the VP for allowing us to use his living room for the night.' 



It is always healthy to laugh at ones own self! Comedy is also a powerful tool for awareness! It is something that helps get through hard times.


I''d love to watch one of the live steams of these acts!!




* *
* *
  • About Us

Times Newspaper in Education (Times NIE) is a novel program that helps students ‘Stay Ahead’ and aims at making ‘Learning Fun’. It introduces concepts that help individual growth and development beyond school curriculum.

A brainchild of The Times of India, the world’s leading English newspapers, Times NIE nurtures progress and innovation. Adapted from the international concept, Times Newspaper in Education program (Times NIE) was initiated in India in 1985.

Today we have over 3000 schools and over 9 lac students subscribing to the programme, spanning 16 cities viz. Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Kochi, Lucknow, Coimbatore, Chandigarh, Dehradun, Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, and Jaipur.

The Times of India Student edition, a customized student newspaper exclusively for the students, packs a powerful punch in terms of content that leads to a smarter and superior learning experience. The information is crafted such that it finds use in classroom discussions, thus making it relevant and current. It truly gives education a new dimension by fostering the simple habit of reading which in turn paves the way for a confident, informed and aware individual. A newspaper that inspires young minds and equips them to face challenges of today’s world, making way for global citizens.

Empowering students with new cutting-edge knowledge through various educative and informative activities is a commitment and tradition of Times NIE. The programme serves as a catalyst of education and interaction, as well as a window into the minds of the quintessential Indian youth. On a significant scale Times NIE comprises diverse interesting activities and events that boost the child’s passion for learning, while revealing hidden talent.

While you are aware that The Times of India is among the leading English Newspapers across the world, it has consummated its position as an everlasting winner. With several international awards and recognitions to its credit, The Times of India and Times NIE have validated an enduring tradition of setting the highest benchmarks in every respect. We have been awarded with the two most prestigious awards, Times NIE - World’s No.1 NIE program and The Times of India, Student Edition - World’s No.1 Newspaper for the youth in 2006 by the celebrated World Association of Newspapers (WAN). In 2008 we were honoured by the International Newspaper Marketing Association (INMA), yet another international recognition for ‘Youth Audience Development’. In 2013 we were again honoured by the celebrated World Association of Newspapers (WAN) as the ‘Times NIE - World’s Best Youth Engagement Program’.

Times NIE has grown remarkably over the last three and a half decades, touching millions of children across more than 16 Indian cities. Our absolute commitment towards the fledgling generation remains undiluted and our greatest strength lies in the school partnership and commitment.

  • Times NIE World Awards



Create or join groups, share your views, ideas through posts (Text, Pictures & Videos)





Why You Think India Is Great....