Creativity as a way of self-transformation and social intervention.
In her stunning and haunting debut, We Need New Names, Zimbabwean writer Noviolet Bulawayo depicts the life in a district called Paradise through the eyes of a group of children: scarcity of food, bricks of money, parents who live in the diaspora, and so on Pardon Mapondera, a young artist from Zimbabwe, brought closer to me many similar scenes from his teenage life during our interview, among which is how children on the playground were expecting a lorry arriving with food. In Mapondera’s simple and impressive words, “The food got missing in the shops. When we were playing out there, when we saw any truck, we ran to catch a queue. Even you don’t know what was there, we had to run there and the elders would find us there. They would come. And if they had it, valuable money, they would buy anything they could. These are some of the things, like you don’t find food to eat.”
It is after conversations with many Zimbabwean artists that I started to realize that, the social history of the Zimbabwean crisis has profoundly shaped the memory, body and identity of the ordinary Zimbabwean people. To young people of Pardon’s generation, the falling apart of things, hunger, chaos and the sometimes loneliness of being left behind has overwhelmed their primary and secondary school time, which should have been colourful and carefree. But as many other Zimbabweans, the answer is ‘tinoronga’ or ‘tinoona yekutamba’, they always “make a plan”.......By Lifang Zhang.