23 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Book Café Use the Arts to Protest Violence Against Women

Harare's popular cultural centre, the Book Café, has organised a series of events to mark 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, an annual campaign that protests violence against women and puts a spotlight on the issue worldwide.

The "16 Days Campaign" originated in New York in 1991 at the Centre for Women's Global Leadership (CWGL). The Book Café's arts promotion wing, Pamberi Trust, are taking up the campaign in Harare.

This year the theme is "From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let's Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women!"

Book Café organiser Penny Yon told SW Radio Africa that there will be a fiesta involving different types of artists on Saturday, who will leave conscious messages protesting violence against women on the walls of the café.

"Our mission is to work strongly towards stopping violence in our society in general. And all these ideas are geared towards that. Of course there is music and there is entertainment. It's not just about preaching, it's about celebrating what women have done all these years since 1991," Penny explained.

She added that the campaign is successful around the world because of the millions of women and thousands of organisations who are committed to ending violence against women in their communities.

The campaign, which officially begins around the world on Sunday, comes to Zimbabwe this year at a time when the assault of well-known local actress, by her boyfriend, is in the headlines. This makes the issue even more relevant this time around.

Barbra Breeze Anderson, a poet and event organiser in Harare, told SW Radio Africa that although she has not experienced violence herself, she will be participating in events at the Book Café because of comments she heard regarding the assault on the actress.

"Recently a popular actress in this country was beaten up by her boyfriend and some of the comments were shocking, where men try to excuse hitting a woman because she has done something wrong. I mean we are in that culture where people still have excuses for violence," Barbra said.

The fiesta at the Book Café will last for eight hours, from 10 am to 6 pm. There will be singers, musicians, poets, writers, and well-known fashion designer Sabina Mutsvati, who will present progressive fashions, with music and poetry in the background.

Artists due to perform on the main stage include Ammara Brown, daughter of the popular late musician Any Brown, Tina Watyoka, Eve Kawadza, Tsvete from Pakare Paye Arts Centre in Norton, Donald Kanyuchi, and mbira soloist Rutendo Machiridza. Hip-hop and spoken word artists Godobori and 'Upmost' are also on the bill.

Penny said the 16 days of activities at the Book Café will end December 10th, which is Human Rights Day around the world. There will be a special appearance by the acclaimed American hip-hop artist Akua Naru on December 8th and World AIDS Day will be commemorated on the 1st December.

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