Dutch envoy lauds Mhlanga's Amakhosi

HARARE - Amakhosi founder Cont Mhlanga was honoured in Harare on Thursday by the Embassy of Netherlands for landing the 2015 Prince Claus Award.

The award is bestowed annually on individuals, groups and organisations in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean that excel in the field of culture and development.

For winning the gong, Amakhosi Cultural Centre director Cont Mhlanga received 25 000 Euros at the Royal Palace Amsterdam in Netherlands on December 2.

To celebrate the prestigious accolade at the event, Amakhosi Theatre Productions performed a play titled Manana Three Days on the Run based on a true story about a 13-year-old girl who runs away from her village to escape a rich businessman who intended to forcibly marry her.

Ambassador of the Netherlands to Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi, Gera Sneller told people who gathered at the celebratory party that Mhlanga’s Amakhosi deservedly earned the award due to exceptional creativity and social activism.

“Their subjects include politics of land, wealth and ethnicity, marriage, the family, HIV/Aids, corruption and abuse of power — always looking at how these impact people’s everyday lives.

“Amakhosi’s productions combine local performance styles incorporating dance, comedy and song with international theatre traditions.

“The play dealt with the issue of child marriage. This is very topical in Zimbabwe and as many of you might know, that subject is particularly close to my heart and an integral part of our embassy’s work.

“Child marriage is a violation of the rights of children. It not only takes away a girl’s childhood, it also takes away her future and has a great negative impact on the community she lives in, perpetuating the cycle of poverty,” she said.

Mhlanga, who has since retired from the day-to-day running of Amakhosi, said it was a great honour to receive such an accolade.

“I received the call while I was at the village, as most of you know, I am now retired. I left the centre in the capable hands of many other people. So when I was called, I felt really honoured for the works we have carried out throughout the years.

“I actually hadn’t watched the play that we all saw today and I must say the guys are really carrying out good work,” said Mhlanga, who is also the chairperson of the yet-to-be-established Skyz Metro FM in Bulawayo.

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