Poets give voice to human rights

Poetry has become a tool for advocating for human rights in Zimbabwe for some young people.

Poets should be able to make a living from their work – Shoes Lambada
Poets should be able to make a living from their work – Shoes Lambada

The coordinator for Zimbabwe Poets for Human Rights, Shoes Lambada, told The Zimbabwean that poetry could be used to capture the attention of young people. His organisation was formed in 2007 and has 90 registered members.

“We are using poetry as an alternative medium and as an avenue to educate people on human rights. Most other information is packaged in brochures and booklets and some of the literature is not easy to understand,” he said.

Some poets from the organisation were part of the anti-death penalty activities organised by Amnesty International in Harare recently. Lambada said his group delivered their message as duets, in groups and as solo performances.

“We focus on the issues that are trending; the area with the greatest need at that particular moment. Different communities have different needs,” he said.

During the run up to the July 31 election, for example, Lambada and his group focused on the issue of the so-called ‘aliens’.

“Kadoma is a mining town with many residents from a migrant background. We set up our equipment next to derelict and blocked toilets and burst sewers to focus on the water situation,” he said.

“We also have an online community with more than 950 members. We are on Twitter and Facebook and we have a blog, massinstruction.blogspot.com,” he added.

He bemoaned, however, the low numbers of women involved in the project.

“The participation of women has been problematic because of the radicalisation in the group. We believe that human rights is not an issue to shy away from but to confront head on,” he said, adding they were actively encouraging more young women to contribute.

Some members have performed before international audiences.

“Since 2007, we have travelled to all the continents and what we are pushing for is for poetry to become an industry we can make a living out of,” he said. “At the moment, poets are not able to live solely on their work and have to find other jobs. That does not give enough time for creativity.”

He appealed to funding organisations to create residence programmes for artists.

Post published in: Arts

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