Zimbabwean artists sing and “joke” about climate change to raise awareness

By Watmore Makokoba

Explaining a complex scientific phenomenon such as climate change can be a daunting task for both the teacher and the learner and this calls for innovative methods of spreading the message in a simplified format easily understood across age, sex and social standing.

Music and comedy easily spring to mind. While performing during a recent a boot camp titled #FoodDisrupt held at the Zimbabwe Agricultural Show Grounds in Harare, Pauline Gundidza, an Afro Pop fusion musician, said she uses her music as a platform to convey information on climate change in simple but effective way.

The #Food Disrupt boot camp was initiated through collaboration with Hivos, Hivos Impact Investments and Welthungerhilfe in the Hivos Food and Lifestyle Fund, during which thirteen food and lifestyle entrepreneurs from Malawi, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe participated in the ideation and pitching competition.

As she plays the traditional mbira instrument singing melodiously in the Shona language , Gundidza’s message on climate change makes a compelling case for climate change adaptation and mitigation within communities and is easily understood by anyone  regardless of their educational or social status.

The music has helped in the demystification of myths associated with climate change and explains the seemingly mysterious phenomenon to communities who, for instance, during the scarcity of rain could interpret this  as part of some traditional norms that have been violated.

“As a musician, I have an artistic eye and I see the issue of climate change in colour and pictures. For instance when I talk about droughts it means that there is not enough food for the people and animals, what we do is that we paint that picture in a beautiful and melodious way that people can relate with through music

“The whole idea is to make people understand   this by saying; look the grass used to be green and now it has turned brown.  Vulnerable communities in different parts of the world are at great risk. It is everyone ‘s responsibility and as an artist I feel creating awareness is the best way to contribute towards combating climate change”, said Pauline.

Mannex Motsi, a prominent reggae dancehall artist, also taking part in the campaign said he is using this platform to reach out to people, especially the youths, by drawing their attention through inspirational music.

“Whilst people are enjoying the music their attention is drawn to the challenges facing them caused by climate change such as floods and persistent droughts. These devastating disasters are happening more regularly than before and the world needs to awaken to the call to employ smart sustainable initiatives such as clean renewable energy,

“I think as artist’s we are better positioned to talk about these issues because music is the best medium to convey the messages effectively”, said Mannex.

The artists also collaborated in the Hivos Southern Africa Green and Inclusive Energy program which focuses on lobby and advocacy to influence public and political debate on energy, with the ultimate aim of transitioning towards greener and more inclusive energy systems.

Reginald Mapfumo, the Project Manager of Green Energy at Hivos Southern Africa said through arts, the project aims to reach out to everyday energy users in order to make them aware of the available energy sources, particularly renewable energy technologies.

“The Green and Inclusive Energy (GIE) program uses arts and culture to foster innovative and creative ways to spark citizen interest and engagement in renewable energy” said Mapfumo.

Apart from music and entertainment, Hivos also engaged comedians, Rolland Lunga (Boss Kheda) and Admire Kuzhangarara (Bhutisisi), who have a huge following in Zimbabwe.

“We want to raise awareness about renewable energy. We have ample sun in Zimbabwe, which we can tap and make a difference in our lives and livelihoods. Sunlight is free and we must use it to our advantage,” said Kuzhangarara.

One of the challenges facing communities especially in developing countries, which are the most affected by climate change due to lack of adequate resources for mitigation , is lack of sufficient information on the phenomenon .

Surely conveying the information on the subject through ways that resonates well with local people can be the dawn of a new era in the fight against the pandemic that threatens current and future generations.

Post Author: Nyasha Nyakunu

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