By Emmanuel KaNdlovu
Hope Masike, Ishmael Singo, Stha Dube, and Umkhathi Theatre Works recently came together to showcase how different forms of art can be fused together to create one work of art with massive aesthetic appeal.
The musician, fine artist, poet and traditional dance ensemble, respectively collaborated on the Musical Strokes concert, which was the National Gallery of Zimbabwe- Bulawayo’s first stride towards the Resident Artist Development Programme (RADP) in 2020.
The fusion of the Ndebele songs and poetry with Shona music and fine art at this concert was not just an artistic fusion, but a socio-political statement to demonstrate that we are one people after all.
Speaking to Hope Masike moments before she took to the stage, she excitedly narrated how the idea of the concert came about.
“I have been in Bulawayo for the past weeks, learning Ndebele traditional songs, dances and the language itself. Seeing I was already here, I decided it would be great to do a concert and at the same time showcase the stuff I have been learning with Umkhathi Theatre Works,” she said.
The collaboration with Ishmael Singo happened when Hope approached the Gallery for the concert’s venue.
She said, “In these discussions, the idea of bringing together the worlds of music and fine art was brought up and I was referred to Ishmael Singo. When I saw his work, it spoke for him and I knew there and then that I wanted to work with this talented artist.”
The collaboration with Stha Dube was birthed in the Princess of Mbira’s quest to learn Ndebele. She was referred to the seasoned poet by Insingizi’s Ramadu and from working with Stha daily; she got to know of her poetry and then decided to do some pieces together.
An elated Stha revealed how pleasant it was to work with Hope.
“This was an eye opener for me. I have always been a lover of the Ndebele language and the culture but I have never taught anyone ukukhuluma isiNdebele. It made me rediscover myself, and discover a certain talent in me… Hope is such a fast learner and she made the whole process easy and enjoyable. Working with a renowned musician like her has been truly an honour,” Stha said.
Going into the show, all the acts were looking forward to a beautiful night of unlimited creativity and as the night would have it, they were not disappointed.
Hope delivered stripped down renditions of her hits that created and maintained the intimate ambiance of the concert throughout the night. Stha came through with her thought provoking poetry whilst Hope also debuted some of her poems from her upcoming poetry book to be launched soon. Ishmael allowed the music to carry him to his creative place where he tapped into that space and produced twice as much artwork than he had initially anticipated. The 5 pieces he painted went on to be auctioned to the audience at the end of the show.
All this was topped off by Hope’s outro performance with Umkhathi Theatre Works where she pulled out all the stops, dressing in traditional gear as the other members of the ensemble and leading the group into traditional songs and dance- Hope, like you have never seen her before!
It was a beatific night for the arts enthusiasts that came out to experience this musical concert with a twist.
The Gallery looks forward to more experimental ventures all in line with the RADP.
The main aim of this initiative was revealed recently in a tweet by the organisation.
“Our interest is to enhance the knowledge, skills and experiences of our resident artists as part of the revived Resident Artist Development Programme,” the tweet reads.
The RADP is supported by the Embassy of Switzerland in Zimbabwe.