Monica Cheru-Mpambawashe Lifestyle Editor
The selfie brigade has taken over the world. Pouted lips and coy looks rule the digital space. With Kim Karshadian and her legion of wannabe followers all busy pressing the shoot icon on their gadgets one can be forgiven for thinking that no moment in this age goes unrecorded.
With printing services cheaper than ever everyone can choose whether to keep their best pictures strictly digital or get some hard copies of a few.
But that is not true, at least in Zimbabwe. There are many children whose childhood is passing away without them a record. Imagine not having any images of yourself as a child to look back at and remember the child who was the parent of the adult.
Scan, save and upload. For most of us digitalising the memories of our childhood is that simple. Well, if you are orphan with no access to a camera, even a grainy low resolution cheap mobile handset, then your life could just drift away.
The Zimbabwe Chinese Photographers Association has decided to step in and do something about it. Speaking at the general meeting and awards ceremony of the association held last weekend the incoming chairperson announced the plan.
“There are many orphans in Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Chinese Photographers Association has gone around taking pictures. We are going to give each child whose image we have captured a hard copy of their image because it is sad to think that they many not have such memories when they grow up,” said Mr Wang. This initiative is part of the Zimbabwe Chinese friendship which is now in its 36th year.
While many vulnerable children housed in different institutions of the country do have their images captured on camera, this is not usually for their own benefit.
The images are used by charitable and donor organisations for their literature. Tourists who take pictures also tend to keep those for their own memories with only a few sometimes printing hard copies for subjects.
The orphan project is just a part of the organisation’s programme to capture Zimbabwe from many angles as evidenced by the many aspects of life on display at the various exhibitions of the association’s works. Flora, fauna and people going about their day to day lives make up the diverse and beautiful photography.
After the serious business of investiture for the new committee it was time to pass accolades to the winning photographs from the selection that was exhibited at Long Cheng Plaza last weekend. First prize went to Ms Liu Chang for her photograph of presidents Robert Mugabe and Xi Jinping taken and Harare International Airport when the latter made a historic to Zimbabwe last year.
“Any one can take a winning picture. All photographers want to find beauty in all its variations and are optimists. It is choosing that special moment that will never return that makes for award winning images.
The winning image aptly captured essence of the friendship between China and Zimbabwe,” said ambassador of China to Zimbabwe Mr Huang Ping who was the guest of honour at the ceremony.
He said that before coming to Zimbabwe he had heard of the association but did not really understand the magnitude of work that it has accomplished. Ambassador Huang Ping is an accomplished photographer himself.
His image of a hippo popping out of water and opening its mouth wide taken from very close up was one of the noteworthy images at the exhibition.
This was part of the ongoing Chinese New Year celebrations which began last weekend and will continue well into February. Other events include a performing act specially flown in from China which performed last night at 7 Arts in Avondale and will do so again tonight at the same venue.
The Chinese community in Zimbabwe is much concerned with vulnerable children with the Zimbabwe Chinese Business Association having a charity wing called Love in Africa. The charity has undertaken many social projects including the building of an orphanage in Mashonaland West. Last year during the Chinese New Year celebrations the association hosted a party for over 400 disadvantaged children.
There are many organisations and individuals who are doing much to take care of the many orphans in the country.
First Lady Dr Grace Mugabe has made it her vocation to look after vulnerable children at her orphanage in Mazowe. Others include SOS Children’s homes, HELP Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Orphan Care. There are also many lesser known names with some individuals doing their bit with little or no help from the state or any other funders.