Trade unionist turned playwright: Dzatsunga

To many people David Dzatsunga is a firebrand labour activist. But he has also risen to prominence in the arts industry as an actor and playwright.

David Dzatsunga: not much difference between being a trade unionist and an artist.
David Dzatsunga: not much difference between being a trade unionist and an artist.

Currently serving as the president of the College Lecturers Association of Zimbabwe and chairing the Apex Council, he sees the two as interweaving roles in his life.

“There is not much difference between being a trade unionist and an artist. With art you are communicating to society on things to do with people’s rights, abuse of power, corruption – and in unionism we are dealing with the same issues,” he said in a recent interview.

What started off as a way of filling up idle time quickly turned into an all-consuming passion, which now sees him as part of the popular Sabhuku Vharazipi.

“Sabhuku Vharazipi is a village-based comedy that takes a swipe at abuse of authority and corruption,” he said

Dzatsunga started off by forming a drama club in 1989 when he started teaching at the then Masvingo Christian Secondary School ,soon after graduating from the University of Zimbabwe.

He entered a Shona play titled Nyakuchena Ganda at the provincial Masvingo Schools Drama Festival. “The play dealt with colonial incursion and covered the transition from the pre-colonial into the colonisation era,” he said. The play was voted the best, scooping other awards such as best actor and best actress at the same time.

“It was named the best production ahead of work from teachers’ colleges such as Bondolfi, Masvingo and Morgenster. The adjudicator was Stanley Nyamfukudza,” he said. He went on to win the same award for eight in the following ten years for different plays.

He noticed that he was losing talent once the kids left school so in 1992 he formed Ziya Theatre Productions. Some of his gifted former students became part of this group. Together they toured schools performing for a fee.

“Our plays were very popular. Most were political satires dealing with ordinary people. Schools were the lifeblood of the group. They would pay for the performances and that sustained the group,” he said.

Ziya is still in existence 23 years after its formation. “We have two of the original founding members, Wellington Chindara and David Mubayiwa who acts in the title role Sabhuku Vharazipi,” he said

Dzatsunga later left teaching and became a lecturer at Masvingo Teachers’ College. He was transferred to Morgan Zintec College in Harare in 2012. “I was forcibly transferred to Harare because of my trade union activities,” he said.

Post published in: Arts

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