I SAID it last week again – the National Arts Council (NAC)-organised consultative strategic workshop held a fortnight ago at Mika Convention Centre was by and large cheered as good, and gracious.
Oh yes, Mika as our guest house was unequalled; the exceptional, lavish and sumptuous meals and luxurious rooms were highly unrivaled – well, this is not the matter of my subject today, but one of scripting local literature and culture which commonly forms part of the book, play writing, publishing and reading – the culture of extensive reading is presently awful and appalling in Zambia compared to yesteryears.
Yesteryear, we often went about with novels thrust in our back pair of trousers pockets; popular African series or James Hardly Chase copies, dangled titles of books we had read and shared those we had not. This is unheard of today as each young person is individually busy on the iPod, cell phone or internet!
Well, in the panel led by Sankwe Kambole, which I was part of during the Mika workshop discussed theatre and dance. We loudly admitted the standard of artistic writing has been quite low, and uninspiring to students, scholars and publishers. Further, generally ‘acknowledged’ and nationally awarded winners during national awards did not and have not triggered ingenuous skill.
For instance, of course there are many other awards; during the time NAC organized the Ngoma Awards, it was observed most books that won awards were strangely unpublished ones and could not be traced or found anywhere if one wanted to follow up their assumed popularity!
Some awarded theatre groups, based on one play performance were able to walk away with the top award; when the basis should have been consistence over a period of time, say the past five years or so!
In my view, NAC could and should not take the wholesome blame; in the first place NAC was in a hurry to get the much-needed-credit and recognition as well as the corporate support; I honestly mean the sudden absence of the Ngoma Awards the last four years indicates the projected source of funds was in the beginning absent.
However, there have been many lapses in NAC as a result, hence the maxim, who is NAC? NAC is the artists, and vice versa – except for me, when I shout the word NAC, I am certainly talking about my, our colleagues who sit on the board and represent us. Do they have the necessary muscle to speak out dispassionately?
NAC is made up of arts associations, so if clubs in the first place have weak leadership, it is expected NAC will be a rubber stamp of unpopular mandate, and would not be strong enough!
NAC has limited resources. As a quasi-government mouthpiece, two things weigh the Council down, funds and personnel. NAC depends on what is left of the Ministry of Tourism and Arts; hence they cannot overstretch beyond the personnel that are already there.
In my individual capacity, I have regularly interacted with NAC officials from the time of inception in 1994; (from Mumba Kapumba, and Basil Mbewe and Jacob Chirwa to Adrian Chipindi, and Faustina Kapundu and Mwiche Makungu) even when I have been critical over their performance, I have always been cognizant their individual potency, vigor, abilities and capacities!
Adrian as director and his two assistants today make up a very able trio in my opinion – they need support, and financial support will make them fulfill every of what is on their agenda.
Further discussions on the literary and theatre arts rewarded to discovering common issues, and problems; script writing was discovered to be one of the biggest weaknesses in the link in conserving the arts.
NAC’s challenges means, arts associations and clubs remain in perpetual limbo and shaky position….so what are the solutions? With shared troubles, rejoinders remain with individual clubs and arts associations to raise their profiles.
The other answer; producers and directors that play to produces should dream of collaborating with others – the way the newly established NAC affiliate; Fashion and Design took off with a breathtaking spectacular, imposing and awe-some wonderful. The Fashion and Design Association should be emulated; Zambians would proudly be impressed to talk of indigenous dress, indigenous stories and plays – local culture.
Should I manage to get hold of the two ladies behind The Fashion and Design who presented what would best be described as the inaugural of the association, then that will be part of my focus come next week? Thank you Mr Adrian Chipindi (NAC director) for your statement on the President’s speech during his opening of Parliament a week ago – I am unsure why I could not easily access it, if I do during the week, I will certainly share it with everyone next week too.
Mufulira Arts Council (MAC) at the Mufulira Little Theatre returns to the stage with Joemwa Mtsinje Mwale’s The Family Crunch set to premiere for public performances on 30 September to October 2 at 18.00 and 19.00 hours, respectively.
The Family Crunch is a story that chronicles a family that has shifted from an opulent lifestyle to a low one moving right into the shanty compounds after the breadwinner loses his job following the company’s liquidation. With the current event due to the low copper prices, the play fits in well with what Mopani Copper Mines and other mines are going through – a must-watch drama that emotionally exposes young talent.
Meanwhile, Chingola Arts Society hosts NAPSA theatre from Lusaka with Harvest of Shadows by Dr Cheela Chilala on Friday, 2 October, and could not proceed with a second performance because of the load shedding on Saturdays instead NAPSA will have their second performance of the same play at Mufulira Little Theatre on Saturday, 3 October at 19.00 hours.
I have watched Cheela’s play about two years ago, and feel this is another heightened drama that exudes good scriptwriting, mature acting and directions. The play features award winners such as Eddie Tembo, Jane Lungu and Christine Ngoma.
John.firstname.lastname@example.org – 0955-0967-077-710975