Shona performances illuminate Shakespeare event

HARARE - Shona poems and mbira music claimed centre stage at celebrations to mark the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare held at Alliance Francaise Harare last Saturday.

While several poems in English were fairly well-received, it was, ironically, performances in Shona that set the stage alight. First to raise the bar, at the event that honoured the English language’s most celebrated poet, playwright and actor, was hilarious poet Tendekai “Madzitatiguru” Tati. The highlight of his presentation was the poem Mapete. On face value, Madzitatiguru’s cynical poem appeared to be about mere cockroaches but in the end he ingeniously linked the maligned pests to corrupt individuals.

Another poet who hogged the limelight was veteran poet Chirikure Chirikure who thrilled the crowd with the performance of a rib-tickling poem titled Ndove (dung). Chirikure was later joined on stage by another veteran poet Albert Nyathi for a duet. By public demand, Nyathi had to perform the popular poem My daughter and its flip side Shakespeare My Son.

Shakespeare must have shrieked with laughter in his 400-year grave when controversial poet Biko Mutsaurwa took to the stage. Biko, who is popular for poems that lampoon the excesses and indulgences of corrupt leaders, read several Shakespeare sonnets that had been translated into Shona.

It was not all poetry at the Shakespeare celebrations jointly organised by the British Council Zimbabwe and Pamberi Trust. mbira star Hope Masike, Afro-fusion star Victor “Mhofu” Kunonga and hip-hop artiste Tehn Diamond all delivered excellent performances. Kunonga, who went on stage with his mbira, did a scintillating collaboration with Tehn Diamond.

Masike was given the honour to wrap up the event. She performed several English and Shona songs but it was her hit Ndire Ndire which provided a fitting finale to the globally celebrated day.

The other poets who took part in the weekend event were Cynthia “Flowchyld” Marangwanda, Peggie “Umind?!” Shangwa, RAE Lyric and Anthea the Poet.

Pamberi Trust programme project officer Hector Mugani was happy with the way local artistes commemorated Shakespeare in a “Zimbabwean way”.

“We were delighted by the way artistes from mbira music, Jazz music, hip-hop and poetry all teamed up to celebrate Shakespeare,” said Mugani.

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