By Alfred Tembo
Kwekwe-based music legend, Bantuman I, born Tawanda Jumo, has described his efforts towards nurturing young people into arts, “as an escape route into realities he desire for the mining town”.
In line with this drive, Jumo is set to launch Schools in Music and Arts Festival (SiMAFEST).
SiMAFEST is a three-day arts culture competition based festival comprising of a beauty pageant (Miss SiMAFEST), live bands, dance groups and spoken word.
According to the programme, winning schools would walk away with a fully sponsored recording contract, musical instruments, among other industry related prizes.
Jumo, who is also executive director of Bantu Entertainment Zimbabwe and a teacher at Manunure High School, said the ongoing challenges facing youths are attributed to rising cases of illicit activities and lawlessness.
“Had it been that we had proper facilities that could keep our young people ever occupied with meaningful activities, they would not delve into drug abuse, sex, violence, early marriages, petty thefts among other undesirable ventures,” Jumo said.
“We are strong and bold on using education and the expressive arts as conduits for knowledge transfer as well convincing the communities that the creative industry is a serious career option one can pursue at university and after school.”
Through interschools bands programme, Jumo collaborated with the Primary and Secondary Education ministry, City of Kwekwe, parents and other stakeholders into supporting and sponsoring the project.
The interschools music project feeds into the inaugural Schools in SiMAFEST set for September, which is expected to celebrate life of wellness among school-going pupils in the Midlands province.
“The initial edition was supposed to be launched in 2020 then Covid-19 struck, but we kept holding on to our idea until now when things seem to have nomalised,” Jumo said.
“During the festival, schools are required to perform three songs.
“One theme aligned, own choice original composition and a cover song.
“It’s all about spreading a spirit of love and giving away a positive energy in our communities.”
Jumo said in an effort to empower the girl child, school bands with girls playing musical instruments will score more marks.
“Our wish is to send a message of love,” he said.
“The issue of prizes is a secondary priority.
“We seek to celebrate this gift of life more especially after Covid-19 and building a lively and profitable creative industry.
“We are hoping that as we near the launch of the event we will get more partners, but as it stand we are self fund and everything is done on sacrificial basis especial on the part of those helping to make the vision come to life.”
Jumo said they have been establishing school bands in Kwekwe since 2012.
He challenged other districts in the province to start preparing for the festival.
Midlands province has eight districts; namely Gweru, Chirumanzi, Shurugwi, Mberengwa, Zvishavane, Gokwe South, Gokwe North and Kwekwe.