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A musical play confronting political reality

Friday August 28 2020
music pic

It’s not a strange thing to hear sobs in a theatre, in some extreme circumstances people wail. Art in its many forms has a way of stirring emotions in people. Thirty minutes in at the Little Theatre situated in Dar es Salaam and spectators were verklempt. I was there to capture a story on a group of actors performing their musical.

Although a lover of art and an extreme believer in it, I would honestly say the acting part of the performing arts in Tanzania has become lukewarm compared to ten years ago when the likes of Steven Kanumba and Mzee Majuto were alive and reigning.

Once we were in the theater announcements on how to conduct ourselves were ran through in Kiswahili and English very loud and clear. Nobody was to walk out for a whole hour and nobody was to cause unnecessary commotion. We were to cheer and clap politely so as not to destruct the cast.

Lights off, curtains up, cameras on and the show started; from the get-go to its ending no one stepped out, nobody could really, I’m not sure if anybody could blink. The energetic, happy and well-trained cast gave their all. The audience remained breathless as it politely cheered the group throughout. They were many mixed emotions but the sobs were heard.

It was a different atmosphere, seeing a large group of youth together in one moment, happy, working their hardest to pass a very necessary message to the crowd, doing what most youth are expected to be doing but doubted for it was quite astounding. These heroes and heroines were building the country in their own way right on that theater stage, while entertaining the spectators and encouraging us to unite with them to fulfil a vision and mission that they were on.

The LoveArt cast was on their winning side that evening, the theatre was flooded with youth from various media platforms and political parties and from different parts of Tanzania. The theatre was filled with hungry youth eager to build a better Tanzania, it’s right to say the right ears were listening to the tunes of the right drums.

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The musical play dubbed ‘Nina Ndoto Kubwa’ is about a young confident journalist who does not hold back from confronting issues that many people deflect from in the society. The young journalist leads a decent life, has vibrant friends and is also involved with a group of youth who aim at bringing positive change. The play was accompanied with myriads of meaningful songs to bring out the musical aspect of it and it also included acrobatics to cheer up the audience that was watching the very eclectic play in awe.

In the play, we see Nuru the journalist interviewing a very confident politician who clearly was very preponderant and listed dozens of reasons on to why he was returning to power boastfully. Things took a left turn when he was questioned on the price of food in his constituency, on maternity and infancy death and many other issues including his disappearance from the constituency. The very strong and confidence politician displayed brittle tendencies, gave preposterous responses and threw threats at the reporter telling her that she was ephemeral and her career was over. The politician gave an ultimatum to the Television station. The outspoken journalist was put on the spot and despondently went away to meet her friends for some encouragement.

The second half of the play tackled different issues, such as fostering women and youth to actively participate in politics. Digital influence in the current world was also highlighted through the introduction of “UKWELI SPACE”, an online platform that informs and educates on political issues, agendas and activities.

The legal climate, where youth and other people seen as activists are closely monitored by authorities was also a point of reference in the musical. The play showed how legal mechanisms are used as curbing measures against any form of dissent.

But in the end, there was a clear victor. The musical brought to life the possible reality that through concerted efforts and a resolve for standing for what’s right, anything is possible.

LoveArts’ musical play had five thematic areas; women in politics, Youth participation in democratic process, promoting the role of youth and women in STEM and civic technology, potential power of data journalism and education on online media guideline and regulations.

With these five areas, and through the use of creative arts, the aim is to achieve youth empowerment in democratic issues, bridge the technological gender gap and demonstrate data usage in social accountability and transparency to the citizen.

With the one-hour musical play coming to an end people retiring to some delicacies, I had a chat with some of the crew members and spectators.

Betina Contine, a presenter from radio Safari, Mtwara, said she enjoyed the play and learned that if a lady is determined to achieve any objective, she can conquer her fears and succeed.

Bryson Mshana, an independent spectator expressed his surprise on seeing such a play in Tanzania and he was more moved with the issues they touched on.

Mussa Mpiko, a young reporter from Safari radio as well, said he has never been in any theater before nor been to anything organized like the play he watched. He learned a lot from the play and vowed to educate his colleagues upon his return to Mtwara.

The LoveArts team and artists had the following to say; Jesca Christopher, a manager and an artist said art is a lifestyle that most people carryout unknowingly. Her dream is to pursue art as an artist and as a spokesperson, she wants to create a conducive environment where this generation and the coming ones can express themselves without struggles in Tanzania and worldwide.

Kauzen Iyamba, LoveArts director emphasized that if art was appreciated as it should be in Tanzania, it will have an impact on cultural diversity, youth, social change and wellbeing, unemployment, arts industrialization concepts and patriotism.

William Mseti, an artist, expressed his surprise on how educative art is and how it can transform the community. He says he finds peace in art and is able to express himself without any obstacles.

Abella Bateyunga, the founder of the organization had this to say; “I believe art in Tanzania has the potential to transform youth’s livelihood and create employment for many of the unemployed young population. Artists when well managed can carry out the country’s brand and inspire cultural diplomacy and stir important dialogue in the community. LoveArts enlightens the communities by sharing their messages through different forms of art such as drama, dance, music, film, fashion, poetry and graffiti.”