14 Exceptional Women in Zimbabwean Arts

The Zimbabwean arts space is male-dominated and misogynistic. Last year in March i made a series of Facebook posts in March celebrating exceptional women in the Zimbabwean arts space. A year later i have decided to revisit the posts (with an addition of one) and immortalize these illustrious women. The names are just too many to mention.

Writer: Plot Mhako

22539983_1757455330933240_7474511898992208356_n.jpgAwakhiwe Sibanda aka Awa > Hip Hop Artist
African Women Arise perfectly defines the fast paced, sharp-edged MC who prefers to wax lyrically in her vernacular Ndebele language. A defiant young woman who defied her Makokoba upbringing, stereotyping and the struggles associated with being a female rap artist.Having toured UK, Germany and France last year, the high-flying award-winning Zimbabwean hip hop artist remains grounded to her roots as she carries her traditional Ndebele garb to every stage she graces. Now Germany-based, Awa is an inspiration to a generation faced with domestic violence, teenage pregnancy, rape, prostitution.

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Chipo Precious Basopo > Arts Manager, Actress
A product of CHIPAWO who went on to become its Manager. Chipo is an inspiring arts administrator who has managed to steer an organisation which has churned multitudes of very successful music, dance, theatre, film practitioners for more than 25 years. Her organisation works with children and young people in different parts of Zimbabwe from age 4 to 25 teaching them to sing, dance, play music, act, make videos and television programs and work together, communicate, gain confidence, build through criticism and so much more. A playwright and actress whose passion for children and rights issues is moving. 

danai-gurira-lilly-awardsDanai Jekesai Gurira > Actress . Gurira is a Zimbabwean-American actress and playwright, best known for her role as Michonne on The Walking Dead, at AMC’s television horror drama series. Danai’s star continues to scale dizzy heights as she recently played one of the leading roles in the box office breaking film Black Panther. Last year she acted in the Tupac Shakur biopic as the late rapper’s mother. Gurira is a polished actress who doubles the big screen and theatre. At home in Zimbabwe where she frequents, she is a co-director of Almasi Collaborative Arts a theatre development project. She continues to inspire an entire generation and has put Zimbabwe on the global stage.

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Mildred Moyo > Lighting designer, Electrical engineer
Many times we attend a music, dance or theatre show and marvel at the beautiful lighting on stage and never get a clue it could be a woman in charge of all that. Chances are high that you have attended an event or more where all that glitz and glamor on stage was coming from her fingertips.
Born and bred in Bulawayo the failed contemporary dance enthusiast found herself on stage but not dancing but lighting for other performers. A passion she pursued until she became a qualified electrical engineer and lighting technician. Dabbling herself in a lot of cables, lighting rig and dimmer packs and sorts with so much ease has become her daily routine. For 13 years the young lady has handled lighting for countless theatre shows, local and international concerts, festivals like HIFAShoko FestivalJibilika Dance Festival and venues around the country.

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Penny Yon > Arts administrator, Musician, Activist
A multi-faceted creative who swapped the gun (Air Force Of Zimbabwe) for the guitar and has played so many roles with different creative organizations that promote arts and culture in Zimbabwe. A former member of the yesteryear popular Mhepo Jazz band. With more than three decades to her creative history, the ardent gender activist has seen many female talents develop in the country through FLAME (Female Literary Arts and Music Enterprise) a program run by Pamberi Trust as an administrator. Penny is a former events coordinator at Book Cafe and Manneberg. Today she continues to work in several projects with a focus on women in the arts.
Photo>Brian Jerome Williams.

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Kudzai Sevenzo > Singer, Songwriter, Actress, TV personality, Performer.
A versatile, highly talented artist who rose to fame as Zimbabwe’s representative on M-NET’ reality musical show, Project Fame in 2004. Since then her star continues to shine both on stage singing or acting. An African Child who is a true Playing Warrior destined to conquer the global stage. With several hit songs to her name and numerous past prestigious awards nominations, Kudzai is an exceptional creative with a passion for the environment and children living with cancer.

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Georgina Maxim > Artist / Co-Director
Occupying and standing tall in a traditionally male-dominated space Georgina Maxim is a mixed media artist and co-founder / co-director of Villageunhu in Harare which functions as an artists’ collective and has a space for residencies and exhibitions. Gina’s works explore themes of femininity, sexuality, physical and verbal violence, identity, and personal history. The Creative Art and Design graduate from Chinhoyi University of Technology has carved a successful life as an artist and gone a step further to create a platform that gives opportunity to young artists to work, showcase and develop their careers at a time when several arts institutions are closing their doors. Maxim spent 14 years of her life as part of the administration at Harare’s Gallery Delta. She has exhibited her works in Australia, Dubai and the Netherlands.

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Barbara Chikosi aka Mama Red Rose / Music Promoter.
A daring, illustrious and hardworking arts entrepreneur who has defied patriarchy to establish herself as one of the leading promoters in the country. The Marange born and Highfield raised diamond woman has never looked back since entering showbiz at the turn of the millennium despite the many challenges that the “risky” business presents, worsened by a volatile economy. Mama Red Rose has been instrumental in promoting a lot of local talent through various events and has also brought in several foreign artists into the country such as Jamaican Chris Martin, Mavado and Capleton.
>A true heroine in the arts whose name is paid homage to on several songs by celebrated artists.  Image:Zimetro

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Maria Wilson > Arts Manager, Actress
The power behind one of Africa’s biggest international arts festival HIFAas the executive director. Despite her low public profile, the shrewd and phenomenal woman’s works continue to illuminate the Sunshine City through the six-day festival.
Maria, a pianist, music teacher and a great actress recently made an appearance in the highly talked about Zimbabwean film Escape.

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Edith WeUtonga Katiji > Musician, Actress
A vocalist and guitarist who plays the bass guitar with great flair. The 2012 NAMA best actress award winner leads her own band, Utonga. Edith is a product of Amakhosi Theatre in Bulawayo. She is very active in advancing the rights and plight of musicians as the Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Musicians Union. She has performed at festivals in Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, India and at Harare’s HIFA among other notable platforms, and continues to mentor musicians as a music teacher. Image – Baynham Tanaka Goredema

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Patience Phiri / Creative social entrepreneur, Bead maker, Social media activist, Actress, Model.
Patience does not only have a nose for all things art happening in Bulawayo, but she is actively engaged and involved in the making things happen in the City of Queens.
She runs a successful bead making business and has over the years expanded her influence and leaving footprints on various creative platforms whilst documenting every detail. A fearless gender activist and a twitter addict.

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Mercy Mushaninga > Former Model, Model Entrepreneur
If perseverance had a name i would call it Mercy Mushaninga. The bold and determined modeling entrepreneur has never backed down since stepping her foot on the modeling stage. Assuming different roles but resilient and consistent. Mercy is the founder of the Zim Gossip Model agency which groomed several winning models such as former Miss Zimbabwe Malaika Mushandu. The Glen-Norah born and raised beauty and fashion addict sacrificed her thriving cyber cafe business to pursue her childhood passion and empower young girls and women. Entering an industry where abuse is rife, Mercy has been instrumental in fighting for the voice and rights of models especially the girl child. Today she runs the Miss Curvy pageant a concept she coined and is a co-founder of the Zimbabwe Model Awards and doing philanthropy work with the Models Against Hunger.

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Hope Masike > Mbira player, Percussionist, Singer, fashion designer, fine artist, dancer.
A cultural ambassador of note. Hope Masike is one of Zimbabwe’s finest music exports whose mastery of mbira and other traditional instruments has seen her on countless tours to Europe, America, Asia and around Africa. “Down to earth, intelligent, witty and gifted” thats how best i can describe her. Outstanding Female Artist NAMA award winner of 2012. Her versatility is compelling, her voice soothing & moving. In 2015 Hope shared the stage and performed together with legend Salif Keita at HIFA. Masike is a member of the collaborative Monoswezi which was nominated for the Songlines World Music Awards. Her voice and story has been featured on CNN, BBC, SABC, ZTV and several other esteemed media platforms at home and abroad. A holder of a Degree in Music, a National Certificate in Applied Art and Design & a Diploma in Fine Arts. Hope Masike is an icon!

17190799_10209764028749851_2874135257335360105_nSibongile Mlambo > Actress / Dancer / Model
California based Zimbabwean actress who recently played a leading role in the movie Honey 3 is no stranger to film having featured in the Zimbabwean film Kini and Adams in 1997. The eclectic artist has made herself a name as an accomplished dancer and a sought-after model and she continues to raise the Zimbabwean flag on the showbiz scene with several silver screen appearances. In the past, Sibongile has returned to the country to offer dance workshops to the next generation of dancers. Pic – online