By Kundai Marunya
Physically impaired students from various institutions in the country left their audience awestruck at the second annual Special Schools Festival at the Harare Gardens.
The festival, on Saturday 22 June, saw physically impaired people performing different forms of art including music, poetry and dance.
The main highlight of the festival was when Mutendi Resource Unit for the Blind, a wing of Zion Christian Church (ZCC), staged an ecstatic showcase. Their energetic dance moves drew whistles and ovation from the crowd. The crux of their show was a performance of NdireNdire, an early hit of the ZCC Mbungwe Stars.
The song saw the audience on their feet singing and dancing. They had to sing the song again after a special request from the Master of Ceremony, Felex Mafumhe Mutasa, himself well known as Dapi from the local drummer series Tiriparwendo.
All the way from Masvingo, Copota School of the Blind delivered a great marimba performance. They jammed to a popular Christian hymn When the Saints Go Marching In before taking on the late Andy Brown’s Kutapira, driving the crowd wild.
Award-winning group Soulborne, followed on stage. They performed three songs, among them the 2009 NAMA award video of the year Let’s Party.
A member of the group, Bright Kadenga told Harare News that “parents should take pride in supporting their children and send them to special schools where their talents can be nurtured at a tender age. Art can earn one a living and we are a case in point having toured many countries including South Africa, Namibia and Nigeria.”
Jairos Jiri Marimba Group was also among the top performers, with a fusion of marimba, drums and dance. They played various songs including Jah Prayzha’s early hit GochiGochi.
Murehwa Voices came on stage with poetry outlining the importance of education for the disabled.
Most of the performers relied on their patrons to interpret their words from sign language for the audience.
Off the main stage, participants exhibited many art pieces: with beaded hand-made jewelry from Munashe Special School in Greencroft, sculpture work from Emerald Hill School for the Deaf, while Leonard Cheshire Disability Centre in Kambuzuma had a wide range of products including wood carving, tailor made clothes, bedcovers and curtains.
A former student of Danhiko, Nompilo Nkomo was one of the most noted individuals showcasing at the festival. She gave live demonstrations of painting using her feet, holding the brush with her toes.
Event organiser Trust Mutekwa, well known in poetry circles as Ticha Muzavazi, was pleased at the event’s resounding success.
“An individual talent can find light and space to do great things. Once that stagnant water is stirred in the right direction, barriers of societal expectations can be broken,” he said.
Culture Fund Zimbabwe, CBZ Bank and celebrated mbira songstress Hope Masike sponsored the festival. Participating institutions included Murehwa Resource Unit for the Blind (Murehwa), Copota School for the Blind (Masvingo), Mutendi Resource Unit for the Blind (Masvingo), Jairos Jiri (Kadoma), Rubatsiro Special School (Kadoma) and Sibantubanye Special School (Bulawayo).