The Sunday Mail
Distortion of Zimbabwean history through publication and production of factually incorrect literature, audio and video recordings will now be a thing of the past.
Both local and foreign content creators have often been found wanting when it comes to telling the Zimbabwean narrative.
Literature as well as big and small screen buffs opine that this has mainly been due to the fact that there is no known base of historical and cultural knowledge.
As it stands, a trailer for a movie titled “Mugabe”, has been released. The yet-to-be screened movie features British-Nigerian actor Hakeem Kae-Kazim who plays the character of Zimbabwe’s former president, Robert Gabriel Mugabe.
It has scenes from all eras from the colonial through post-independence to Operation Restore Legacy
Indications are that the production is going to be a disaster, fact wise, unless a miracle happens between now and the time of the première.
For instance, the Hollywood actor is a serious misfit and a mockery to the former president’s character.
In the film, the actor is not as articulate as the former president. He even fails to imitate the veteran leader’s popular gestures.
It gets worse
The details making the storyline appear warped in the prevue.
It is this sort of thing that the Zimbabwe International Film Festival Trust (ZIFFT) intends to cure under the “Narratives from Zimbabwe” project.
The project aims to capture the country’s history from the sources.
Working in conjunction with Zimbabwe Heritage Trust (ZHT), ZIFFT intends to create a one-stop resource centre providing all things Zimbabwean, including Chimurenga files, ethnic groups and spirit medium history, etcetera.
All these will be captured as audio and video recordings.
Obtained information will be accessible free of charge to all creative practitioners across the globe.
The project was officially launched in February last year but actual data collection only started a couple of weeks ago after funds had been unveiled.
Festival director, Nakai Matema, said the initiative will help improve the depth, quality and accuracy of Zimbabwean narrative.
“Zimbabwe has a strong heritage that is being lost because we tend to rely on oral and unrecorded transmission, thus putting this highly valuable knowledge at risk of being lost,” noted Matema.
“Anyone interested in knowing about Zimbabwe’s history, heritage and culture will just need to visit our interactive digital archive-driven website where the information will be presented.”
The renowned filmmaker pointed out that they will touch on every important aspect shaping the Zimbabwean society.
“We have now started the project as promised, funds are now in. So far we have gone to Chiweshe and Masvingo and we will be visiting other parts of the country gathering information on the Zimbabwean heritage, culture and traditions.
“We are addressing questions to do with tribes – talk of Ndebele, Zezuru, Karanga, Korekore, Tonga and Venda among others. Information obtained will then help us create a resource base that can be used to create films, books, etcetera,” said Matema.
Handlers of the project, who are filmmakers of repute, also intend to use acquired information to create content for the big and small screen.
Focus is on the First, Second and Third Chimurengas, Operation Murambatsvina and Operation Restore Legacy among other events.
In the past, foreign film and television producers have done productions on these topics — though they left a lot to be desired.
They are often in the habit of twisting the narrative so that it portrays Africa as a dark continent, full of primitive people. Little effort has been put to counter this.
Local films like “I Can Hear Zimbabwe Calling” (1980), “King Solomon’s Mines” (1985), “Jit” (1990), “Flame” (1996), “Journey From The Jacarandas (1997), “Kare Kare Zvako” (2005) and “Chinhoyi 7” (2015) could have told the story better had such a resource centre been in place.
“With each passing day, information is lost, thus making it imperative for us to capture as much of these stories as possible. We need to get the information on who we are as a people from the foundation, elderly citizens have valuable narratives,” said Matema.
“We will be making films on issues like Chimurenga and Operation Restore Legacy from first-hand information. We will also look at the role played by different spirit mediums like Chaminuka, Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi in building present day Zimbabwe.”
“Narratives from Zimbabwe” is being funded by the European Union (EU) and Interarts Foundation for International Cultural Co-operation (Barcelona) as part of its Culture at Work in Africa project.
Culture at Work Africa is a consortium of eight African, European and international partners who have joined forces to promote inter-cultural dialogue and culture diversity in Africa.
The project is expected to run for three years before review.