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Kevin Dispatch

202 Smiles at the End of a School Day

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Precious, Melod, Monica, and Dadirai show off the Daindine Mwana Dance
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I stumbled upon the Harare Arts Club one afternoon while wandering the streets of Harare, being drawn to the beating of drums and the singing of children. There I saw a group of over 20 kids ranging from 6-18 years old performing highly energetic dances to the sound of powerful music.

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Keeping it real, Weedman and Felix
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I learned that the Club was founded by two old school friends, Felix and Weedman. They both love performing traditional dances, playing music on the marimba (it's like a xylophone) and the drum, and even writing original poetry. Just one year old, the club has 200 local kids as members.

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Loyd and Susan dance the Joro to the rhythms of Elijah on the drums
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Their performances raise money to run the Club, and to help other organizations like a local orphanage. When they don't have any money to give to these groups, they just go directly to them and use their skills to entertain the kids who they feel are in greater need than themselves.

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Because Zimbabwe is a pretty poor country, it's hard for the Club to raise money. They also need instruments and traditional costumes made for the dances. For example, the female dancers should be wearing the gavha (beads filled with seeds that make a cha, cha, cha sound) on their ankles as they dance, but even at almost $2 a pair, they can't afford them. They don't even have enough soccer balls.
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Tough to keep up - Dadirai and Monica doing the Dzverende
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Weedman and Felix love leading the Club. Kids often have a bad life at home and can escape to the Club. Just seeing the smiles on their faces and knowing that they feel free, makes it worth it for Weedman and Felix. They hope that one day their Club can travel outside of the country, representing Zimbabwe and its culture internationally. But for now, they encourage the youth to concentrate on their studies first, guaranteeing them that, "from education all else will eventually follow."

Kevin

You can write to Weedman and Felix or any of the talented performers. You can also make a donation for costumes for the competition and future engagements. Please contact them at the following address:

Weedman Mtanga & Felix Veneka
Harare Arts Club
5 Rozva St
New Mabvuku
Harare
Zimbabwe


 

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