Book Café on a roll after false start

HARARE - Harare’s premier arts hub, Book Café, is now on a roll after regularising its licence papers which had temporarily put all artistic programmes on halt.

The Book Café this year relocated from the Five Avenue shopping centre to a new venue along Samora Machael Avenue, but closed down again after operating for a few months citing licensing problems.

A meeting place for artists and performers, the venue’s temporary closures saw the joint cancelling several high-profile meetings and showcases.

A major highlight at Book Café, which was also affected by the closure, was the weekly Thursday discussion forum bringing together personalities from various spheres to share experiences and knowledge.

But for Book Café enthusiasts, the discussion forum’s dry spell has come to an end with the resumption of the thought provoking gatherings that cover almost all hot topics.

Today (Thursday), Media Alliance of Zimbabwe and Pamberi Trust will host a public discussion on “Media, Artistic, Academic Freedoms and the Draft Constitution”.

The discussion follows one successful gathering of artists to deliberate on the draft constitution held earlier this month and coordinated by Artists for Democracy.

Artists and the general public will form part of the audience.

A concert showcase featuring Edith WeUtonga and Mannex will put an icing on the public discussion.

In an earlier interview, Book Café creative director Paul Brickhill said the facility offers people from all walks of life and all perspectives a chance to meet and mix freely.

“We have people from townships, inner-city and Avenues mixing with people from suburbs and all parts of Harare, including expats and diplomats, business people and tourists.

“Perhaps unique to Book Cafe is that its core clients and community are made up of a wide cross-section of people. This has not changed.”

Brickhill said major platforms for wide-ranging discussions and film screenings are in the pipeline and may even expand beyond the former Book Cafe programme.

The creative director praised local artists whom he said had the courage, ingenuity and resilience as witnessed by their refusal to give up on Zimbabwe.

“Artists, as the conscience of the nation together with Book Cafe and many other arts organisations have survived over the past difficult years.

“In this way, we should revere our artists as among the most intensely patriotic people in Zimbabwe, who truly understand their role as peace-builders in times of crisis.

“I say this because it is the arts that allows us to reflect on ourselves,” added Brickhill.
The Daily News visited Book Café last week during a House of Stone show and what a night it turned out to be with this super versatile band.

Having played a pivotal role backing a host of artists including Chiwoniso Maraire, Appetie & Josh Meck at Chimanimani Arts Festival, House of Stone performed at Book café with a stellar line up of guests.

Junior Bantan, Dino Mudondo, Upmost, King Kodza formed part of the guest musicians who took turns to warm up the venue, churning a cross mix of sounds from dub to reggae to jazz, hip-hop, R n b, old skool, and afro-pop.

Mbira songbird Chiwoniso Maraire and poet Cde Fatso joined several artists and music lovers as part of the audience.

For the better part of the concert, Maraire could be seen enjoying herself on the dance floor.

Musician Dino Mudondo and Clare Nyakudyara were a toast as they performed a few duets that resonated in the house.

King Kodza played some beautiful reggae from the likes of Burning Spear and Culture.

And everything else took shape as the night broke away.

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