Fire fighters put their own lives at risk to save life and property of others during emergencies, but their heroic deeds get little recognition. Meso Maviri, which literally means ‘two faces’, is a collaboration of two creatives, Steven Chikosi and Tariro Washe, who held an exhibition — ‘The Fighting Forces Of The Tower’ — a project nearly two years in the making, showing the bravery of the men and women who serve in the Harare Fire Department.
The exhibition highlights the courage of the fire fighters, from their regular training and testing to extinguishing fires and how they have to be in top physical form to perform in their jobs. It also features several fire stations, namely Greendale Fire Station, Kuwadzana Fire Station, Waterfalls Fire Station and Central Fire Station. Harare News spoke to the creatives of Meso Maviri, on what inspired them.
Washe told us that, “The power of multimedia was the man influencer in our decision, we wanted to create an enlightenment capsule that would allow the audience to experience the fire fighting ordeal and so, bring a sense of appreciation for the work and bravery of fire fighters. It is an ongoing project as we plan to show a documentary on fire fighting at the beginning of this year’s fire season.”
City of Harare has one hundred and forty-four fire fighters and eight women serving in the Harare Fire Department. In 2016 the Harare Fire Department received one hundred and thirty-two grass fire related calls.
Cigarettes being discarded negligently cause many veld fires during the peak fire season. Environmental Impact Assessment and Ecosystems Regulations, Statutory Instrument 7 of 2007 states that, in Zimbabwe no person is allowed to light a fire outside residential and commercial premises during the period between 31 July to 31 October each year. This period has been stipulated the fire season.
The Fire Department trains staff on behalf of companies to be able to react in the case of a fire. In 2016 alone the Fire Department received one hundred and seventy-three calls regarding commercial fires. And 12% of all calls for 2016 were domestic fires.
Harare News also spoke to City of Harare, Acting Corporate Communications Manager, Michael Chideme on the significance of the exhibition. Chideme said “We are happy with the exhibition because it brings awareness to the role of our fire fighters. We urge the public to give way to fire tenders each time they sound their sirens and not to vandalise fire hydrants.”
Fire fighter Agnes Chinzvende, who has been serving in the Harare Fire Department for eleven years, spoke to Harare News on what it means to be a woman fire fighter “At first it was challenging, but as you continue to train you get used to the job. We are just like soldiers. When a soldier starts training, it will be painful, something challenging but right now we are managing as women fire fighters. I would want to encourage other women to do such challenging jobs, it’s interesting.”
Meso Maviri is a collaboration to tell the African story; Chikosi and Washe are both visual orators with a passion for social documentary. In 2015 Chikosi was featured on CNN African voices and in 2014 Washe exhibited in a group exhibition titled ChanceSubjects/DelibrateObjects in Cape Town, South Africa.
The Fighting Forces Of The Tower is running at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe until 17 March.