Arts Correspondent —
After years of being abused and amassing unimaginable filth, Machipisa footbridge in Highfield resembled a new place when EDZAI ISU theatre house unveiled it to the community and arts stakeholders last Friday with the intention of turning the bridge into a vibrant community theatre space.
The Theatre paBridge ground breaking ceremony was an inspiring experience for not only EDZAI ISU in its quest to develop creativity, but the community of Highfield and the nation at large.
Africalia Belgium provided seed funding, City of Harare the space, Nhimbe Trust and National Arts Council of Zimbabwe gave technical support while Cairns Foods donated product hampers to the community volunteers who dedicated their time and effort to cleaning the bridge.
Officially ground breaking the project director of the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe Elvas Mari described the Theatre paBridge initiative as critical in the development of the arts sector.
“Theatre paBridge is an example of workable networks in the arts sector that are imbued with sustainability. It is my wish that the City of Harare will not end with this bridge alone, but strive to avail other facilities to be turned into viable artistic spaces.
“Cyril Jennings Hall here in Highfield produced some of the country’s iconic theatre practitioners in the mould of the affable late Safirio Madzikatire and it is my wish the bridge will also produce other practitioners who can even scale greater heights in theatre,” said Mari.
“Let the bridge through the performances become an agent for promoting social cohesion, peace and harmony, cultural and artistic expressions, national unity and ultimately development in general.”
Harare City Council department of Housing and Social Services representative Mrs Kwembeya who is Highfield District Social Services Organiser said the council cannot do it alone in terms of making Harare a world class city but through partnerships with relevant stakeholders such as EDZAI ISU in this cause.
She added that as council they would be willing to engage and support more such creative and innovative initiatives from relevant stakeholders such as artistes, local business, youth and women.
A vendor who preferred to be named Mai Peter said she was now comfortable working under the bridge following the clean-up exercise.
“The only challenge we have now is to keep the bridge clean. We need the police to help us maintain the bridge. For the past week I have sold more fruits because the place is clean,” said Mai Peter.
Constructed in 1998 to link a then new bus station and supermarkets at Machipisa, the footbridge is a lovely piece of infrastructure that failed to serve its purpose and has been reduced to a public toilet among other ills.
EDZAI ISU said it intends to begin renovations immediately with barricading the bridge so as to stop it from being messed and be on course in terms of launching the theatre before the end of this month.
About 50 people witnessed the event among them were artistes such as poet Mbizo Chirasha aka The Black Poet, ITI Zimbabwe co-ordinator Lloyd Nyikadzino, award winning actor Everson Ndlovu, actress and marketer Chido Musasiwa, theatre writer and film maker Patrick Mahlasera, musician cum actor Brezhnev Guveya, actor Francis Nyakuhwa among a host of arts practitioners like Blessing Nyamukapa, Silvanos Mudzova and Ivirne Chitehwe.