Harare-based artists from different genres including poetry, theatre and visual art took part in the online Virtual Conference on curbing the HIV/AIDS pandemic yesterday afternoon.
The conference, coordinated by Southern Africa Cultural Leadership (SACL), was conducted via Skype and involved artists and cultural activists plus other stakeholders from Harare, Newcastle and the Eastern Cape.
Themed Challenges and Solutions: the power of music and culture in the fight against HIV/AIDS, the conference saw nine local participants stationed at the UNESCO offices in Newlands delivering poetry, theatre and live visual painting.
Visual artists Shannon Murphy and Wallen Mapondera did a collaborative live painting of a canvas on an inter-racial wedding (pictured). They brought about the union of two cultures, how their values on sex and marriage may expose them to HIV/AIDS.
Poet Arnold ‘SoProfound’ Chimirika explains the painting: “To us black Zimbabweans sex is something sacred and special that is not openly discussed, which is completely the opposite of the white community.” The painting was auctioned in Newcastle at a reception dinner held later in the evening.
In poetry Vokal presented a piece depicting a remorseful father who left his young daughter in pursuit of promiscuity. This has become common in local communities evident by the rise in single parenting. “People in Africa do not die of AIDS but of ignorance,” he said in his piece. SoPround also did justice to his piece What I Did Not Tell Her which outlines the regret of a man who used his girlfriend.
Eunice Tava and Privillage Mutendera of Sista-Sista Entertainment staged a short play on how religion has been a stumbling block in curbing HIV/AIDS. Clad in white garments popular with apostolic sects, the play brings out the issue of religious leaders who bar their followers from visiting hospitals or even getting tested for the HIV virus.
Mutenderi says: “Arts play an important role in disseminating information by creatively engaging the audience.” She said people are tired of reading pamphlets so theatre comes in to give a fresh and memorable approach while encouraging discussion.
SACL is a capacity building initiative that works with artists, organisations and individuals in the cultural sector.