THE other week on Friday February 7, Minister of Tourism and Arts Sylvia Masebo made an audacious, bold and brave move; in a single word I would equally describe it as courageous.
The minister met Copperbelt-based artists on a face-to-face to converse predominantly on the way forward for the arts; generally discoursing weaving and curving, arts and craft, drama and theatre, music and dance, dress and design, successes, failures and challenges.
Artists I later spoke to were greatly excited and enthralled and awe-struck with the general outward feeling that the minister had valiantly laid herself on the table in a spirit to reconcile her officers, the artistes and the arts.
Notably present were, Barney Kanjela, Lydia Mhango, Pamela Hojane, Godfrey Chitambala, Edward Lange, Reuben Chama, Jimmy Lungu and Douglas Muma Mumbi alias comedian Jonginjo all expressing gratefulness.
Others I spotted were Van Wyk Mumba, George Howard Musonda, Maggie Chola and Kelvin Nkandu of the Third Eye musical band.
Then there was Annie Zulu who happens to be the Provincial Arts Advisory Committee – PAAC chairperson with her secretary Davis Sichinsambwe. There were many others.
In my meek view, this was one of the best assemblies I have attended in a while involving a pragmatic leader who strongly challenged her officers there and then.
At first I thought the minister was merely embarrassing them, but later learnt sometimes to push things one must muscularly behave like a dictator!
Further, Masebo made it modest; we all evidently, simply spoke to her.
In this column, and in other fora, I have for many years visibly endeavoured to write and call for debate and discussions and opinions with the response in most cases all in vain; this unique meeting with Masebo was outstandingly inimitable and matchless.
Can we have more of such gatherings, Hon Minister?
Masebo came along to the indaba with some of her officers; Victor Makashi, the director for culture at her ministry alongside Prince Lamba, the Copperbelt Cultural Affairs Officer.
Others were Wambo Muzyambo and Bweupe whose roles are concerned with tourism and Themba the minister’s protocol officer.
Though the participant-attendance was largely paltry, perhaps as one reason we all seemingly, metaphorically found chance to ask, all went well starting with a cultural dance by the versatile Kitwe based ensemble, Sunga Mukoshi.
The energetic elegant and tasteful tall minister dressed in an easy pair of greyish trousers and colourful top majestically walked in led by Kitwe District Commissioner Elias Kamanga who happens to be a good friend of mine, and soon the programme started to unfold.
“I am here not to make a long speech, but will clearly point out that I expected a full house of participants from the Copperbelt.
“This means my officers somehow, somewhere have not done their job, and I am sure they have not being doing very well all along …” Masebo started.
She looked round, literary taking note of every face in the audience.
At this point, I shifted my position to clearly figure out if I was listening clearly.
She went on, “I want my ministry officials on the Copperbelt and everywhere to document every individual artiste involved in artistic activities so that we can have an inventory that will help us, and help the country to support the artists as they will enrich the country.
“I regularly attend international fairs and festivals, and Zambia is surprisingly often absent. Why? My officers have not roundly identified who does this or that because when I travel round the country, I discover and see so many artists on the streets; carvers, weavers, hairdressers, movie makers, dramatic performances…yet my officers seemingly do not know how many we have as a province and country.”
Excitedly where I sat, I totally agreed with the minister.
The minister went on and on blasting her apparently not-so-hardworking officers to which we greatly applauded as now there will be a change.
See what; inefficiency is cancerous to me and further appears like an ugly head in many professions.
People lazily go about their business with little zeal for hard work. I hate that, and have no kind words for such.
This indaba with the minister will surely go a long way; later the following day, I overheard Victor Makashi travelled to Kamenza theatre, Chililabombwe on a fact finding mission on what I have written about in this column.
Bringing Kamenza to the attention of the minister is an achievement in itself, and I see light at the end of the tunnel for Kamenza as we all travel to the border town for the World Theatre Day on March 27.
For me, the minister’s approach to implore her officers and the artists is the best ever in a long time, and Hon Masebo deserve the kudus.
But, I must add that, if this all thing of working hard does not work, I will return to this story, and heap all the blame on the minister for laxity.
John.email@example.com – 0955-0967-0977-710975