- Zimfest 2019
- About Zimfest
A brief reminder to the Zimfest Community
We are halfway through the application period for Zimfest 2019 but do not have half of the teacher or performer applications we usually have. We have heard from very few North American teachers and bands and wonder where you are. If you are hoping to teach, or your band is hoping to perform, get your applications in ASAP!
Zimfest 2019 Organizing Committee
The Zimfest Association joins Zimbabweans everywhere in mourning the passing last week of musical and humanitarian giant Oliver Mtukudzi. The tribute below is published with the permission of author Jennifer Kyker, a former Zimfest Association board member. Nematambudziko.
Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi was singular in innumerable ways, from the resonant sound of his husky voice to his playful dance moves, with names like “donkey jump” and “railway line.” From his trademark cough inspired by Mpharanyana to his tall, lanky frame, his complexion dark like the rich soils of Dande, there was no one remotely like him, this towering figure known by his clan praise name of Nzou Samanyanga, the Elephant, Bearer of Tusks.
Mtukudzi’s songs were by turns mournful, funny, nostalgic, witty, heart-rending, energizing, and even sometimes mystifying. Almost unfailingly, they demonstrated his exceptional mastery of the Shona language, his tight-knit style of musical arrangement, and his fundamental belief that song is primarily intended to convey a message. As he saw it, music was simply the attraction, or hwezvo, drawing people to listen to the message of a song. “Kuridza kurunga,” he told me, “You’re just flavoring the song.”
Hundreds of well-flavored songs consistently served Mtukudzi’s purpose, delivering message after message to several generations of listeners. In them, Mtukudzi counseled us to respect our parents, to remain humble before our elders, and to acknowledge our limitations once we ourselves are elderly. He cautioned us against abusing alcohol, against mistreating our children and wives, and against stigmatizing people living with HIV/AIDS. He encouraged family planning and women’s rights. He asserted the value of kinship obligations, indigenous musical styles, traditional foods, and customary practices often targeted as obsolete.
At the same time, Mtukudzi saw one message as particularly central, a single umbrella covering all of his songs. He described it in many ways – as hunhu, as self-discipline, as respect, as moral personhood. Ultimately, Mtukudzi’s message was simply this – that our humanity is an expression of love shared with others. In his own words:
“…that is what is called a human being. That is the soul of a person. We don’t need qualifications to attain self-discipline. And self-discipline simply translates to respecting the next person. To love the next person. It all comes from self-discipline. It’s not something that we acquire academically; you are born with it. You know what’s good and what’s bad. And, the more you talk about that, the more you remind people how we should live. So it’s way above what we think. It’s what we’re supposed to be.”
Mtukudzi’s musical genius emerged in the way he brought this consistent emphasis on moral personhood together with infectious dance rhythms, irresistible guitar work, unforgettable lyrics, and perfectly crafted song forms. In the process, he touched countless numbers of listeners.
Preceded in death by his beloved son Sam, Tuku’s passing will be felt most keenly by his family, including his wife Daisy, and his daughters Sandra, Selmor, and Samantha. Outside the durawall of Mtukudzi’s home in Norton, an entire nation mourns with them, and beyond the nation’s borders, millions more.
Introducing himself during one performance, Mtukudzi told his audience, “When you say Mtukudzi, you mean ‘One who makes one rich.’ And I’m not on my own, I do have the Black Spirits with me. And we are here to make you rich.”
Truly, Samanyanga, you have made us rich. You have enriched us as individuals, as families, as communities, and as a nation. Thank you. You have shown us the gold of humanity in all the shades of black, in all the rich soils of Dande, and in all the strings of your Godin guitar. Tinotenda. You have shared with us a wealth that goes beyond bank accounts and bond notes, a wealth that does not wear out with age, that cannot be seized, that does not go up in flames, and that cannot be tracked or devoured by predatory animals. Mazvita enyu Samanyanga. You have reminded us of the soul of the Zimbabwean people. Ndima mapedza Nzou, masakura nekuzunza zvese. Zororai murugare Samanyanga, gamba renyika.
Jennifer W. Kyker, PhD
Author, Oliver Mtukudzi: Living Tuku Music in Zimbabwe (2016)
Dear Zimfest community,
This message addresses a shared complaint and request from the Zimfest 2018 survey, and our response to it. Be sure to read through to the end!
Several people have expressed the desire to see more Zimbabweans performing on the evening stage at Zimfest. We want you to be aware that there is a legal reason that not all the visiting Zimbabweans can perform at our ticketed concerts. The type of US visa (B-1 business/pleasure) granted to many of the Zimbabweans (and Canadians!) traveling to Zimfest does not allow the visa holder to perform in a concert for which admission is charged. Zimfest cannot include B-1 visa holders on the ticketed evening stage lineups; it would risk the visa status of these visitors, as well as the co-sponsoring status of the Zimfest Association and our host institution (WOU).
Our plan for Zimfest 2019 is to make the Sunday evening concert on August 11, 2019 free admission, by donation only. Like the afternoon concerts at the festival, there will be no restrictions as to who may perform, so we hope to include some of Zimbabweans you’ve been missing (take note, Zimbabwean applicants!). In order to make this work, we need your help as audience members. We cannot afford to lose money on Sunday evening, so we ask that you donate the same amount that tickets cost for the Friday and Saturday ticketed concerts: currently $18 in advance, $20 onsite for adults.
If having a concert “by donation” sounds like the Zimfest workshops that are “by donation,” it is because it is motivated by the same money-earning restrictions on B-1 visa holders. Any instruction or musical demonstration offered by these individuals must be free and open to the public. This is explained in more detail on the website here (see Workshops by Donation). As with the “by donation” workshops, it is our hope that you understand that donating the full amount supports Zimfest’s ability to bring these musicians to the festival. It is disappointing for us to see people donating relatively small amounts for children taking workshops, or American teachers signing up for workshops from Zimbabweans. We appeal to you as a community to help us out on this with your generous donations.
It will be many weeks before we know who will be coming to Zimfest this year, but we wanted to let you know of these plans in advance so that you can make your own plans accordingly. We promise the Sunday evening concert at Zimfest 2019 will be very special – you won’t want to miss out!
Until next time,
On behalf of the Zimfest 2019 OC and ZA Board of Directors
Greetings Zimfest community,
We have two quick messages about Zimfest applications and artwork:
Best of 2019 to all,
Claire on behalf of
The Zimfest 2019 Organizing Committee
Dear Zimfest Community,
Applications are now open for the 2019 Zimbabwean Music Festival. To apply to teach or perform at this year’s festival, go directly to the Teacher Application Information and/or Performer Application Information pages. Applications will remain open until February 28, 2019.
If you are applying to teach, you will be able to propose as many workshops as you wish after submitting the teacher application. Each year we seek to offer a balance of workshops, including singing, dancing, drumming, marimba, several types of mbira and a variety of cultural presentations. Based on feedback from previous Zimfest participants, we are making the following suggestions for 2019 workshop proposals:
Send us your ideas, and we’ll see what we can schedule!
The Zimfest Association Board has chosen to carry over the 2018 theme, “Music Dancing Across Borders” for Zimfest 2019. Considering that legal circumstances for immigrants and residents both here in the United States and in Zimbabwe continue to be under threat, we remain steadfast in the belief that music and dance are unifying forces around the world. We look forward to dissolving borders and creating togetherness at Zimfest 2019, August 8-11 at Western Oregon University in Monmouth, OR.
Happy New Year from the 2019 Organizing Committee!
Best regards, Claire Jones
Dear Zimfest community,
This year’s post-festival survey included two separate comments alleging sexual misconduct or assault either at the festival or elsewhere by persons known to the Zimfest community. The Zimfest Association Board of Directors takes these allegations seriously and wishes to follow up on them. In the interest of facilitating safe and non-threatening environments at future festivals, the ZA Board has generated a policy statement addressing sexual and other forms of harassment: the Zimfest Code of Conduct. The purpose of the Code, which applies to all Zimfest participants (including performers, teachers, volunteers, staff, and other attendees), is to ensure that the festival is an inclusive, welcoming, and safe space free from harassment and/or abuse. All Zimfest applicants will be requested to read the form and share with band mates or others for whom they are applying. The Zimfest Code appears here on the website.
The Code includes options for reporting complaints of sexual and other harassment. The ZA Board has followed up with one of the respondents who made sexual abuse allegations within the 2018 festival survey. The second comment was totally anonymous, and we have no idea who the complainant is, or the alleged perpetrator or the alleged victim. If you or someone you know made the anonymous comment and wishes to provide further information, please call or email any of the individuals designated to receive complaints in the “Reporting harassment and other complaints” section of the Code.
Thanks for your attention. We will have more feedback on the 2018 festival survey in the coming weeks along with news about the 2019 festival. Look forward to applications for Zimfest coming online on January 2!
On behalf on the Zimfest Board,
Claire Jones, Festival Coordinator
Dear Zimfest enthusiasts,
Wrap up your holiday shopping at smile.amazon.com/ch/91-1951506 and AmazonSmile donates to Zimfest Association.
Thanks, from the Zimfest Board
Dear Zimfest Association Friends and Members,
Giving Tuesday is almost here and it’s also a good time to think about renewing your Zimfest membership. We welcome new members too! We don’t have auto-renewal available yet, but that is something we are working towards for the future.
We hope you are doing well and have found this year challenging as well as thought-provoking, given the many newsworthy events both in Zimbabwe and the USA! This will be our sixth year running the Zimfest Association’s Annual Campaign and Membership Drive. Thank you for your support in a very successful ZF 2018. While the festival itself provides some income to the association, these funds are simply insufficient to help sustain and grow the Association and the Festival. Last year the support from thirteen donors and members gave $1795 by the end of the year which is equivalent to providing all weekend meal plans and housing during Zimfest 2018 to only seven Zimbabwean guest teachers and performers. There are three ways you can help; by renewing your membership, becoming a new member and making a donation.
Our long term goal is to have the majority of Zimfest participants be members of the organization. We have seen an increase in previous years. It is our hope that a healthy dialogue about the festival and Association can emerge from a membership that feels a sense of ownership in the Zimfest Association. Membership covers the calendar year January 1st through December 31st. Membership dues are an essential part of keeping Zimfest alive and vibrant. From as little as $10.00 per year for our Youth/Student membership, there are membership categories to fit any budget and situation! Consider Regular, Family, Couple, Teacher, Lifetime, and Lifetime Family memberships. It’s also easy to add a donation to your membership payment. Members may choose to have their names published on the website and in the Festival Guide as a public display of support for Zimfest. Membership fees are 100% tax deductible, for now at least! Please refer to the membership page to renew or initiate a membership. Please write us at gro.t1550453182sefmi1550453182z@sre1550453182bmem-1550453182az1550453182 if you want to clarify your membership status. Join or renew now for 2019.
Thanks for all you do to help make Zimfest a success. It was great to see many of you at Zimfest!
–The Zimfest Association Board
Greetings, Zimfest friends,
Now is a time when more of us turn to shopping online. I recently signed up for Giving Assistant, which is very easy to use. You can earn money for yourself (if you choose) and donate to Zimfest while shopping online at more than 3,100 stores. The Button alerts you to any cash back donations available to activate before you check out. It only takes a minute to set up your account with Giving Assistant, and Zimfest will automatically be selected as your charity of choice if you use this link.
We’d also like to remind you of two other completely painless ways you can donate and help Zimfest on an ongoing basis. Go to the Support Zimfest page for information on Giving Assistant, AmazonSmile and eBay Giving.
Thanks for all you do to help make Zimfest a success. Best wishes for the holidays and we hope to see you at Zimfest 2019!
Zimfest Board Secretary
Minutes from the October 14th meeting of the Zimfest Association board of directors have been posted.