ArtsLife Style

Africans curious to develop continent’s own growth path

They have set up a platform to that effect


Sikhulile Precious Sibanda is an award-winning visual artist both 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional. She is a human rights activist championing the rights of women in Zimbabwe and Southern Africa. She is also a trainer in Digital Storytelling . She has worked in civic society as a facilitator of art and digital storytelling programmes and also one of the founding members of a feminist collective called Voice of the Voiceless (VOVO) which also uses art for advocacy and documentation. Her art is an exposure of a woman’s feelings and experiences in a judgmental world that labels and stereotypes people and perpetuates social and political inequality and injustice. PHOTO | MS TCDC

FRIDAY January 24, 2020

By Joe Lihundi

Tranquility News Reporter, Arusha

Can a society grow without its own life style? About 1,500 people from all spheres of life across Africa are attempting to answer the million dollar question during the Knowledge, Art and Networking (KAN) Festival in Arusha, Tanzania, this weekend.

The question comes at a time when politics is thought to be calling the shot and, in the process, eating away other ingredients with equally important role to the building of the African fabrics.

Hing on the agenda of politicians on the continent, for instance, has been fiscal policies with construction of infrastructure getting high priority, leaving key sectors for the livelihood of the people such as education, health and agriculture, which employs majority of them, receiving paltry budgets.

According to the Chairman of the MS Training Centre for the Development Cooperation (TCDC), Dr Servacius Likwelile, Knowledge, Aart and Networking (KAN) Festival is a platform formed to compare notes, learn from one another and debate how best to react to broader challenges facing the society on the continent.

Florence Shirima aka Kanozo is a talented poet who refused to become a rapper, arguing that music instruments would distract her stories which intend to provoke thinking instead of entertaining alone. Looking on is MS TCDC Executive Director Ezra Mbogori. PHOTO | JOE LIHUNDI

Dr Likwelile said one of the continent’s major challenges was inequality and how to counter messages coming out of groups like the World Economic Forum and others which only looked at the GDP (gross domestic product) as the measure of progress and development.

The MS TCDC Partnership Board had constantly been asking itself how best to strengthen the confidence of the communities and how could it build on the sense of solidarity that was part of their culture, he said.

“How do we work towards attaining the region we would desire – starting with Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda we want? If we can attain this, we’ll have an East Africa we all want to live in,” he explained.

Dr Likwelile said arts and culture, which had, for a long time, formed the core of Africans’ civilisation and existence, essence of being and extension of human expression; should equally be kept at the forefront of their development drive.

Mr Ezra Mbogori, the Executive Director of the MS TCDC, believed efforts to improve quality of life and reduce inequality were inherently tied to local customs, values and social systems.

Peter Arinitwe, 27, creates a rubbish collection bin in the shape of a snail. The artist from Uganda’s art is inspired by culture, environment and nature. He loves public opinions, dialogues and open debates on his creations for purposes of growth and development. PHOTO | MS TCDC

“Culture, including art, is a medium for development that, if we commit to, can breathe new life into the community,” Mr Mbogori said during the launching of the KAN Festival on Thursday January 23, 2020.

The second edition of the KAN Festival, which kicked off by soft opening the eve of Thursday at the MS TCDC situated at Usa River on the outskirts of Arusha, brought together development practitioners, artists and members of the public.

Mr Mbogori said the four-day KAN Festival was billed to build synergies, increase mutual understanding and seek solutions for development challenges from different angles instead of politics alone.

The festival would feature visual and performing artists from across Africa, including DR Congo, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

Dozens of movies based on stories from across Africa such as ‘Gifts from Babylon’, a short film exploring the psychological impact of Africa-European Union migration through the lens of a Gambian return migrant would be screened during the festival.

MS TCDC Partnership Board Chairman Servacius Likwelile (Right) addresses media practitioners shortly after he opened the second edition of the Knowledge, Art and Networking (KAN) Festival in Arusha, Tanzania, on Thursday. He was flanked by KAN Festival Art Director Dave Ojay. PHOTO | JOE LIHUNDI

The theme of the festival — Development and Developmentalism — is anchored on the strap-line from the belief of the Tanzania’s Father of the Nation, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, that development should be people-centred, not material-centred.

Mr Dave Ojay, the KAN Festival Art Director, said panel discussions with development partners and artists, roundtable with visual artists and filmmakers, and breakout sessions would feature the event.

Artists such as Vitali Maembe, Fi Q, Siti and the band from Tanzania, Sandra Nankoma from Uganda, Juma Tutu from Kenya, Victor Kunonga from Zimbabwe and Isabella Novela from Mozambique will perform at the festival.

The festival will also give young artists and school going children an opportunity to learn from senior visual and performing artists through the art and drumming classes.

The business community will also get an opportunity to showcase their products during the festival which also serves as a platform for TCDC alumni, friends, collaborating partners, thought leaders and development practitioners to explore practical ways of deepening their contribution to the growth of the continent.

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