The 7th Schools Annual Festival ran under the theme Dreams Manifest. This year’s festival was held at the Harare Polytechnic on the 5th and 6th of July 2019. Four thousand five hundred (4500) attendees comprising students both participating and spectating, teachers, corporates, parents and the general public lit the venue and thronged the Polytechnic grounds to witness creative performances from different schools and renowned artists.
Theatre performances were illustrious and articulate. Schools were requested to create content on gender based violence. Mufakose 2 high school were the winners in the theatre category. The school displayed a great play on the abuse of women, sexually and physically abused by men in a traditional community setting where the chief solved the disputes encouraging the people to live in harmony. Their play was both appealing and educational showing how they clearly understood the theme for the theatre category. The 2018 winners Njube High school were in second position, followed by Emerald Hill School for the Deaf in third position. Portia Shawarira (Mabelreign Girls High) and Trynos Masunda (Liebernbeg High in Chivhu) were best actress and actor respectively.
Our music category had a twist in that we tasked schools to either include a Zimbabwean instrument in their performances and to also sing one song by our famous actor/musician Safirio Madzikatere aka Mukadota. We want our students to remember our legends and celebrate them by performing their music. This helps in us appreciating how music has evolved but also to make them conscious of artists that significantly contributed to the music industry. Chill Spot Records pledged to record an artist of our choice and we have suggested Millz Million a 15 year old from Genesis High School.
Fashion: In its mission to empower youth, Let Them Trust has created a wealth of opportunity for young fashion designers to design and showcase their garments at the festival. The young artists are inspired by the colors, sounds, traditional African fabrics, prints and accessories as well as the cultural heritage of Zimbabwe. Let Them is encouraging the youth to celebrate Zimbabwean unique cultural heritage, diversity of beliefs and traditions through fashion. The festival showcased and celebrated diverse fashion talents and designs from different schools and young fashion designers. The festival promoted upcoming designers and gave them a stage to parade their talent.
Chishawasha primary school hoisted the trophy in the Mbira competition after battling it out in the Solo Female Mbira competition sponsored by Miss H Trust. Last year mbira competition winners Heritage primary school were relegated to second place. Ms H Trust is one of Let Them Trust partners that empowers girls through nurturing musical talent and train them to play traditional music instruments like mbira, thereby empowering the girl child to be responsible and financially independent. Kyle Mutengwa from Chishawasha Primary School and Ruvarashe Mukarakate of Heritage Primary School were the individual winners in the mbira competition.
Poetry categories are not restricted to a theme; however, each poem was to be no more than 2 minutes and 30 seconds long. These can be performed as individuals or as a group. With the support of our sponsors, hampers were given to the best performance. We are actively looking for a floating trophy to be given to each category for the next upcoming festival. Mufakose 2 High were the winner, ZRP were in second place and Ellis Robins high schools came third in this category. We had five entries for Visual Arts category this year and will continue to amplify the entries on our Facebook page throughout the year.
Two schools with kids with special needs, Vimbainashe Learning Institute and Emarald Hill School for the Deaf participated in the festival and demonstrated that disability is not a hindrance to success. These schools displayed extraordinary talents by giving formidable performances. Emarald Hill School for the Deaf took the 3rd position in the theatre competition. Ndinashe Chirisa from Vimbainashe Learning Institute was the best female dancer. Meanwhile, Tanyaradzwa Gondo a blind Marlborough high school student who is also a drummer and a keyboardist also gave an exhilarating stupefying performance when he performed with his school.
The 7th Schools Arts Festival hosted international guests from Malawi. A six member delegation team from Light of Youth Creative Organization (LYCO) graced our festival. LYCO a Malawian registered trust upholds arts and culture through research, training, display and performance. LYCO organizes a number of events for talented young people in primary and secondary schools where the youths exhibit their creative works with various messages on cross-cutting issues through drama, poetry, visual arts, music and dance. Among these events is the National Schools Youth Arts Festival (NASFEST) which operates at three levels; Education Division, Regional and National levels. LYCO provided adjudicators for the festival categories and also presented the theatre winners with medals from their organization. The exchange was a great experience were valuable lessons were learnt, we look forward to creating many other exchanges with this organization in the future. We were disappointed that (Association of Botswana Schools Performing Arts) ABOSPA could not make it this year but we will continue to nurture our relationship to the extent that we will have Tswana Students participating in our festival and in turn we will take our students to showcase at their festival.
LET THEM took the theatre winners Mufakose High 2 to ZBC TV YGT program on Saturday the 6th of July where they reviewed the festival. International guests from Malawi and Portia, the best actress from Mabelreign Girls High also attended this interview.
For the last 4 years LET THEM has conducted workshops at ZIFM Stereo studios with approximately 20 students annually. In this workshop the students discuss radio, talk about how to make a jingle, then create and record the LET THEM jingle that would be aired on ZIFM Stereo till the festival starts. The beauty is that our students get to meet some of the radio personalities there. On 28th of May 2019 our trust hosted students who sing, write music or have keen interest in radio production or jingle at ZIFM Stereo studios. The festival jingle was created.
We introduced Giant puppets to the festival this year and we are pleased to announce that Langa Motsi a student from St Katherines high school in South Africa designed our Let Them Trust Giant puppet. She sketched it and we brought it to life.
Funding this year was at its lowest. The trust managed to receive only ZW$6 000 cash from its partners. Most of our major sponsors did not fund us citing liquidity challenges facing Zimbabwean companies. The uncertainties surrounding the switch from muti-currency regime to Zimbabwean dollar also exacerbated the situation. We are grateful for the donations of hampers received, the artists that performed on a Corporate Social Responsibility basis and the cash component received. The Trust needs an additional cash injection for the festival if we are to continue hosting the festival in the years to come.
Marketing for the festival was very intense. Our trust managed to conduct roadshows in schools and residential high density areas informing and educating the people about our festival at the same time dropping off posters. ZiFM Stereo provided the much needed publicity by way of Ad placements, four per day for two weeks leading to the festival. It is without a doubt that the 7th schools arts festival adverts contributed to the amazing numbers we got through the gates
Our organization also sent representatives to Young Gifted Talented (YGT) two times, a youth show that appear live on ZBC TV every weekdays and weekends with live studio guests and audience. We also received interview slots on Heart and Soul radio and Community radio. We are grateful for the various media companies that sacrificed resources to sell our festival and profile our story across the globe. Special thanks goes to Sunday mail, News day, Pachikoro, Edu News, Pindula, Ndeipi and others. We also advertised using the Let Them Facebook Page, Linked Inn, Twitter, Instagram and Whatsapp platforms.