Zimfest News Blog

Call for Zimfest tech volunteers

Dear Zimfest Community,
I’m here to pass on a request from Nora Holmquist, head of the Zimfest tech committee, who has been working hard over the last few years to improve the technical infrastructure of the festival:

Volunteers wanted: do you have technical skills? A bit of time? The Zimfest Tech Committee is looking for help in the following areas: a) spreadsheet formula scripting to help us streamline the workshop scheduling process b) website graphic design to help us re-envision the website c) google doc scripting to generate workshop acceptance letters d) data mashup and reporting.

Please contact za-tech [at] zimfest {dot} org if you can help in any of these areas.

– Nora Holmquist
Zimfest 2019 Workshop Coordinator & Tech Team Lead


Alex Weeks
Zimfest Board President

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Seeking New Board Members

Dear Zimfest Community,

Zimfest Association would like to recruit 1-2 additional board members over the coming month or two. If you are interested in joining the board, please send a letter expressing your interest to the board at board [at] zimfest {dot} org. If you have questions, send Alex, the Zimfest Association Board President, a message at alex.weeks [at] gmail {dot} com. Alternatively, if you are aware of individuals who you believe might have the skills and interest in joining the board, please let us know at board [at] zimfest {dot} org. Information on board membership can be found here https://zimfest.org/about/board-members/zimfest-association-board-recruitment/.

Thanks from the Zimfest Board

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February Board Meeting Minutes

Minutes from the February 10th meeting of the Zimfest Association board of directors have been posted.

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Zimfest Teachers Needed! Applications Close Feb 28

Hello Zimfest Community,
The end is near! No more procrastination, Zimfest applications for teachers and performers close February 28. That is only five days away!

Our most desperate need is for teachers of marimba at all levels except advanced. If you have patience and a flair for working with Beginners, or can help build foundations and repertoire for Novice and Intermediate players, we want you!

Please go to Teacher Application Information and/or Performer Application Information.

Claire Jones
for the Zimfest 2019 Organizing Committee

Music Dancing Across Borders

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Zimfest to Add Background Checks for Festival Teachers

To help ensure a safe and enjoyable Zimfest experience for all participants, the Zimfest Association Board of Directors recently developed a Zimfest Code of Conduct. To further ensure a safe environment for Zimfest participants, the Board also approved mandatory criminal background checks for Zimfest 2019 teachers. Criminal background checks are standard practice at many non-profit organizations, which can be held legally liable for any misconduct resulting from a failure to conduct background checks.

The Zimfest Association has selected Coeus Global, which specializes in serving non-profit organizations at affordable prices, to provide background checks. For individuals with US social security numbers, the search will include two items: (1) the United States National Criminal Database (which covers felonies but not misdemeanors) and (2) the United States Nationwide Sex Offender registry. The Board is investigating options for individuals who do not have social security numbers.

Individuals applying to teach at Zimfest 2019 need do nothing at this point regarding background checks. After an applicant has been selected as a teacher, they will be provided a link to the Zimfest portal on the Coeus Global website, to sign a release for the background check and enter personal information. The period of time a background check report may cover differs by state; with Zimfest 2019 being held in Oregon, this period is unlimited (other states may, for example, limit background check reports to the 7 years prior to the current date). To be employed as a Zimfest teacher, a “clear” criminal background report will be required.

As part of our commitment to transparency and safety, members of the Zimfest Board of Directors will also undergo background checks this year. Following this pilot program, the Board will evaluate expanding criminal background checks to additional groups (e.g., Festival Organizing Committee and other volunteers). Our paramount goal is to provide the best experience for everyone as we come together at Zimfest to enjoy and share the music that we love.

—Zimfest Association Board of Directors

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November, December, January Board Meeting Minutes

Minutes from the November 11th, December 9th, and January 13th meetings of the Zimfest Association board of directors have been posted. We apologize for these minutes being posted late.

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Zimfest Applications Closing February 28

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!

Go here for Performance applications
Go here for Teacher applications
and check Applications announcement for suggestions on workshops for this year

Zimfest 2019 Organizing Committee

Music Dancing Across Borders

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Tribute to Oliver Mtukudzi

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

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)

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Zimfest Sunday Concert Special

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,
Claire Jones
On behalf of the Zimfest 2019 OC and ZA Board of Directors

Zimfest 2019 – Music Dancing Across Borders

 

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Applications Reminder and Call for Artwork

Greetings Zimfest community,

We have two quick messages about Zimfest applications and artwork:

  • Reminding you that online applications for performing and teaching at Zimfest 2019 have been open for almost two weeks – we’d love to hear from you! Go to the Teacher Application Info and Performer Application Info pages for links, and the Application Announcement for ideas.
  • We are working once again with the wonderful graphics artist Rachel Edson for Zimfest 2019 graphics needs, but that doesn’t mean we are not open to creative input from the rest of the community. Let us know if you have any artistic ideas appropriate for incorporation into the 2019 posters and/or the festival guide: a painting, drawing, collage or illustration of any medium will do. Send your ideas referencing the Zimfest theme of Music Dancing Across Borders to 2019[at]zimfest{dot}org.

Best of 2019 to all,

Claire on behalf of
The Zimfest 2019 Organizing Committee

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Online Applications Open January 2

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:

  • Many 2018 marimba workshop participants expressed the desire for more time in upper level workshops. We can accept a limited number of 2.5 hour marimba workshops at the Intermediate and/or Advanced level.
  • Consider, however, that presentations, or workshops in dancing or hosho, might be better suited to 1 or 1.5 hours.
  • We can also schedule a small number of intermediate or advanced marimba workshops for teens. We no longer have a separate age level for teens, so please tell us in the workshop description or title if you are proposing a teen workshop.
  • We love to see workshops that educate about African music beyond just teaching songs. Sessions that integrate marimba with singing, dancing, drumming and/or hosho, bring home to American students the knowledge that these music and dance activities are rarely separate in Zimbabwe!

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
Zimfest Coordinator

Music Dancing Across Borders

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Introducing the Zimfest Code of Conduct

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

Music Dancing Across Borders

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