Female photographers chronicle life before, after elections

HARARE - Zimbabwean female photographers have proven the adage that the sky is the limit, as they are currently exhibiting an insightful and comprehensive package of photographs at the Harare Gardens.

The group is working under the Zimbabwe Association of Female Photographers (ZAFP) and comprises nine female photo-journalists as well as amateurs.

Their exhibition is in collaboration with Hivos and Royal Netherlands Embassy through the Human Rights Fund and will run until October 17.

Ed Kashi, an award-winning photojournalist says of the exhibition: “This summer the Zimbabwe Association of Female Photographers has embarked on a socially significant project to document the historic Zimbabwe elections of 2013.

“Creating a comprehensive visual story illuminating many issues plaguing Zimbabweans, ‘Before and Aftermath’ is an important and unique body of work that has been created by Zimbabwean photographers.”

It is through this exhibition that the photographers would like to answer several questions; How much effect did the election actually have on our daily lives?; What is ‘normal’ life in Zimbabwe? And how did we take this latest set of elections?

The idea behind this exhibition is basically to show life in Zimbabwe, before, during and after elections, through the eyes of female photographers.

Photographers taking part include Annie Mpalume, Amanda Mardon, Angela Jimu, Nancy Mteki, Davina Jogi, Cynthia Matonhodze, Kresiah Mukwazhi, Katy Lannas,Lee-Anne Gumbo and Lesanne Dunlop.

The only male photographer participating in the exhibition is Privelege Musvanhiri, a freelancer with special interest in photography and new media.

The exhibition running under the theme, “Before and Aftermath” shows happenings before, during and after the 2013 harmonised elections.

The photographers are working under ZAFP which was formed in 2011 by Jimu, Jogi, Matonhodze and Mteki who identified a need to develop a network of professional photographers particularly in the media industry.

ZAFP says its mission is to create a platform for female photographers in Zimbabwe to work together and support each other as a means of furthering their professional careers.

The organisation says it notes that in recent years, the “media industry in Zimbabwe has suffered severely from a lack of press freedom, leaving very few qualified and experienced photojournalists working in the country. What remains is a heavily male-dominated industry, characterised by a lack of unity.”

ZAFP says ultimately their vision is to contribute to the professional development of Zimbabwe’s photographic industry by producing a legacy of highly qualified, competitive female photographers who are recognised for their work both locally and internationally.

“In order to do this we plan to offer workshops and training and develop photography projects for our members; and in the long term, we hope to create a resource centre that provides photography books and even equipment for members to use.”

Speaking on the side-lines of the exhibition, Jimu who is the vice president of ZAPF said it was something they thought necessary because they wanted to tell a different story.

“When elections come, usually people from outside come in and take pictures and write stories as well. They have their own angle they will be pursuing and we all know that. We decided to focus particularly on events before, during and after the elections because that is the untold story.

“We did not want to focus on everything political, we wanted to show what else was happening besides politics,” she said.

Mpalume said the project is an indication that women can work together.

“It is good that we managed to come up with this as women photographers. It is usually difficult for people in the same profession to come up with a project in unison as everyone wants to be recognised as the best.

“But we managed to put all that behind us and came up with this project, we will do more in the future,” she said.

The photographers have a website as well which has most of their works.

They had their first exhibition in April this year.

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