I AM contritely sorry to all those that sent in their views on the emotive subject calling for Mulenga Kapwepwe, the National Arts Council (NAC) board chairperson to withdraw, citing varying opinions ranging from non-performance to NAC’s inability to be useful to artistes and many other reasons.
My laptop, where I kep such material, developed a fault. I think after punching continuously for the last three years, the computer has expired and I have to get back to trekking to internet cafés to keep this column running.
The Kapwepwe subject; I will join in this argument conversing about NAC and Kapwepwe on a personal level even though this matter seemingly has surprisingly taken centre stage in a highly misguided manner.
I am aware that the concern to discharge the NAC board has long been overdue following NAC’s powerlessness to largely, financially assist arts associations and individuals in their quest to reach higher heights in the arts.
I know too that NAC has orally supported the artistes, but as usual, this has been due to their financial limitations, and some artists have chosen to disregard this because at the prime of the establishment of NAC under the Parliamentary Act of 1994, it was taken for granted the arts would occupy a higher level.
And when NAC came up with the acclaimed Ngoma Awards, though artistes still complained, it was generally believed the arts had gone a step further.
In my view, believe you, me; following the creation of NAC was highly held as the best thing to have happened to the arts in Zambia with the versatile, veteran actor Mumba Kapumba at the helm, and indeed the arts were enhanced as all the arts associations namely the National Theatre Arts Association of Zambia (NATAAZ), Zambia Association of Musicians (ZAM), Visual Arts Council (VAC), National Media Association (NAMA), Zambia Women Writers Association (ZAWWA), the Zambia Folk Dance and Music Society (ZAFODAMUS) and the Zambia Popular Theatre Association (ZAPOTA) finding time to sit down together and trade ideas and chart the way forward in unison.
Envoys of all the bona fide arts associations and line ministries sit on this board once led by Kapumpa, now chaired by Mulenga Kapwepwe.
Even though I have never sat on this board, I know too well that these representatives who represent their associations other than draw an allowance, mostly they never go back to their associations to brief the members on the going-on from that NAC-board perception; I am quick to point out that usually after these board meetings, these agents wretchedly, simply return home, sit and fold their arms!
I presume, this is where unfortunately trouble starts! NAC as a board has no overall power to instruct associations, but to guard, and guide and support the arts programs financially and morally.
The other week in one statement Minister of Tourism and Arts Sylvia Masebo explained at Kitwe Little Theatre that NAC might have been seen to receive government grant, but this was meagre and went into salaries and office maintenance, hence the forthcoming Arts Commission which will financially be bigger and employ full time officers.
The artistes in Zambia cannot afford to wait for the Arts Commission any longer! The question perhaps on our lips, is, why are the Parliamentarians taking long as we expected the Bill to pass through late last year?
The breakdown and hassle is, artists calling for Kapwepwe to hurriedly leave the chairmanship of the NAC board do not appear to make sense with the laid down procedures and guidelines!
Other than hunt for the appropriate and fitting process we should all be questioning Parliament to hasten on the promised Arts Commission which as Masebo put it, will be a complete government funded institution from the district right up to national level.
Lack of understanding this preamble on the NAC makes one shudder as wild calls to impeach Kapwepwe are imprudent.
Yes, impeachment exists and possibly can be applied when and where laws and guidelines are flawed and blemished uncontrollably with impunity, but in this case Kapwepwe’s hands have knowingly been tied under the national budgetary constraints as far as government is concerned.
Oh yes, Kapwepwe may not have performed well, and I totally agree, but have the arts associations observed the strengths and limitations of Kapwepwe and her board?
Have the same arts associations implored their representatives enough to understand this?
Those who sit on her board, do they talk about Kapwepwe’s hijacking of activities in meetings hence been one of those that have stifled progress of the arts?
The contention in my view should be that since the establishment of NAC in 1994, 20 years ago there have startlingly only been two chairpersons; Kapumpa and Kapwepwe!
This has been unfair as several other people could have been tried in the hot seat. Have the powers that be forgotten that Kapumpa nearly faced the same hounding if it wasn’t for his quick action to step down?
Remember NAC board chairpersons are appointed by the ministry concerned, and this time round I am unsure if it is the Ministry of Tourism and Arts, Traditional Chiefs Affairs or Community Development and Health.
In this view, Kapumpa and Kapwepwe are neither to blame as certainly these two have been distinguished artistes who are fit for this position.
The only query is, Kapwepwe has overstayed, and as a result her good ideas have expired.
Like in the political headship, overstaying as Presidents breeds contempt, hence dictators are born of familiarity; so the checks and balances being called by the artistes to get Kapwepwe out is correct, aside from the method being applied. The move is being done wrongly!
Each Arts association has its representation, all they need to do is brace themselves and bring up the subject in their board meetings, and beseech Mulenga Kapwepwe to say something about her performance.
Impeachment with outright signatories calling for Kapwepwe’s acquiescence will lead to anarchy and this is a bad precedent, and future activities are likely to be jeopardized as the trend is bound to repeat itself once tolerated.
I have heard former Shatel singers Saboi Imboela’s orchestrated leading the pack of those calling for Kapwepwe to go, fine, but her saying NAC is smaller than ZAM is untrue.
NAC is bigger than ZAM, NATAAZ, VAC and other arts associations. Has Saboi got facts right? Has she attentively listened to their NAC board representative to get the gist of the laid down procedure to kick out an erring leader?
The debate, is principally misunderstood, and like those that wrote to this column said; constrains and stop the mere argument; indeed get Kapwepwe out, but follow the procedure.
Like I intimated earlier, I have not selected quotes from my colleagues whose views were valid as my PC I saved on developed a fault, and I may not use it in a long time to come.
Meanwhile, Ibamba the Prick Thorn a dramatic film under the auspices of the Kitwe-based comedian Phinot Mulela alias Ntambo is out.
Thank you Phinot I received a copy of the DVD, and briefly sampled the first few scenes which uncovered the excellent scenery, moral acting and high-quality camera works.
The movie is set in Kasama, where Phinot has used the inert talents of the young actors to capture the outskirt settings of Kasama with a language most people would easily associate with and understand, Icibemba in that part of the country. I will get back to this story later.
By the way did you know there are two big festivals in the offing in the month of April?
There is the Mwansabombwe Theatre Arts Festival set for the precinct school of Mable Shaw secondary in Luapula Province, and the annual Yezi International Theatre Festival earmarked for Lusaka Playhouse.
Since the Mwansabombwe festival is coming earlier 18 – 21 April, I am still waiting for details on what this festival is all about, and hope nest week I will hear from the organisers.
Thank you to the Committee for appointing me as one of the adjudicators for the District School Arts Association slated for Mufulira Little Theatre on 17 to 18 March.
My interest is to see if we are making progress in scriptwriting, acting, directing, poetic recital and use of the stage, and excited I am that I will undoubtedly enjoy myself watching all those plays and recitals.
I want to congratulate my friend Nancy Handabile, who is a scribe with the TIMES of Zambia at the same time a dyed-in-the-wool actress whose enthusiastic role in the television series Love Games came running as one of the finalists during the second Edition of the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards held in Lagos, Nigeria last the weekend.
Nancy nominated for the supporting actress award was pitted against some of the big names in the Africa film industry Kenya’s Prem Episode 2, Tanzania’s Siri Ya Mtungi and two of Nigeria’s The Benjamins and Nowhere to be Found.
Nigeria’s Graham Douglas from Flower Girl beat Zambia’s Nancy though another big prize went to Love Games’ Fred Phiri for the best produced movie. Job well done guys.
John.firstname.lastname@example.org – 0955-0967-0977-710975