Zim arts benefit from French alliance

Zimbabwe’s arts sector is enjoying the fruits of the exchange and promotional programmes organised by the Alliance Française de Harare.

Papa Wemba
Papa Wemba

Established in 1951, the organisation is an independent, non-profit language and cultural initiative that aims to nurture Franco-Zimbabwean exchanges.

Its missions include teaching the French language and fostering the arts in

Zimbabwe, through hosting concerts, exhibitions, film screenings, theatre and other cultural events.

In an interview with The Zimbabwean, AF director Charles Houdart said his organisation had made significant strides in professionalising the arts sector in Zimbabwe.

“Our aim is to promote the local arts industry by offering a platform for artists to work in a professional environment. We have a venue called Old Mutual Theatre, which provides a space for artists to rehearse and perform. We are also involved in marketing and publicising artists and we would like them to make a living through their works,” said Houdart.

He said exchange programmes between French and Zimbabwean artists would go a long way in promoting personal diversity.

The AF works with the assistance of the French ministry of foreign affairs and Culture France in partnership with local institutions and companies.

The AF has, over the years, presented international artists such as Papa Wemba, Ismael Lo, Laurent Coq and Youssou Ndou.

“As part of our work, we try to link individuals by organising workshops that are attended by artists from France as well. Every year, we have programmes that involve French and Zimbabwean artists. We have also been supporting local festivals such as the Harare International Festival of the Arts, the Chimanimani Arts Festival and the Magamba Network.

“Last year, we had the pleasure of releasing the album for a Zimbabwean musical group, the Jacaranda Muse, with the support of a French music producer and we organised a tour for the band in Zimbabwe and southern Africa,” said Houdart.

“Every year, we have 800 Zimbabweans who come to learn French and we have a team of ten teachers who are among the most qualified teachers in the land. I would like to think that there is a realisation among Zimbabweans that they really need to speak the language that is widely spoken in Africa,” he added.

Members of AF enjoy several benefits, including access to the library, updates of cultural activities, free entrance to some events, discounts on tuition fees and free conversation classes.

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