Vusa Mkhaya (Zimbabwe/ Austria) Saturday 10pm, Main Stage
Vusa Vusumuzi Mkhaya brings to the 2010 Bayimba International Festival of the Arts a taste of Zimbabwe in the ‘60s and ‘70s. That timeline saw the birth of a new musical a cappella genre called Imbube comprising of males voices. The genre itself has its origins from the mines in neighbouring South Africa where most Zimbabweans crossed to work. The miners composed and sang their own songs so as to drown their loneliness and entertain themselves. Without any accompanying music instruments, their voices composed rhythmic tunes that vibrated throughout the mines as they worked. In social gatherings, Imbube became the main source of entertainment for the tired labourers who worked long hours in dangerous underground mines.
While most of the Imbube songs composed by the miners were happy compositions, some stood up for social justice and acted as a voice for the workers. With Imbube songs came some dancing – the gumboots dance, in which the men stamped their feet on the ground in a stamping dance sequence. The 35-year-old Mkhaya who honed his singing skills in a school choir, had a stint with Insingizi, an a cappella outfit that toured Austria, Denmark and Slovenia to thanks for his musical talent today. The group are alumni of Austria’s Joseph Fuchs Music Conservatorium, a music college Vusa attended for three years majoring in music theory and learnt how to play the classical accordion.
Yawa, an acronym for Youth Accosted With Arts aims to engage the youth in training opportunities and residencies that will expose them to various forms of arts and cultural expressions through performances, workshops, research and exchange and thus create possibilities for dialogue. At its core is a sustainable environment for free artistic and cultural expression that contributes to the regional and global economy. The Kisumu-based initiative is based on performing arts dance, theatre, music, sound and lighting techniques, costume making and design. It’s performance delivery is executed through contemporary and traditional African dance, jazz, modern, Horton, ballet, hip-hop, movement, improvisation, storytelling, voice, physical theatre and music instruments.
The troupe has two productions to its credit. Yawa!, the group’s maiden full length production addressed the lives of the artistes and socio-political and cultural issues around them such as governance and political stability, health, gender, sexuality amongst others. This piece encouraged social, cultural and political freedom and resumed the quest for investment in the art form itself.
Ellena, hybrid theatre and dance performance was a confrontation of rights in relation to education, labour, law. It examined the place of women and children in politics, war, poverty and economy. Apart from school visits Yawa runs HhealthArt, through which the young are engaged on issues of reproductive health, HIV/AIDS and sexuality. Yawa Live! is a weekly forum for artists to showcase their work in progress through performance, workshop, competitions and critique.
Alesh (DRC) Sunday 6pm, Main Stage
Alesh (real names Alain Chirwisa) works and lives in Kisangani in the North East of the Democratic Republic of Congo. He started his musical career quite young alongside his elder brother. His musical influences include James Brown, Elvis Presley, MC Hammer and Michael Jackson. As a child he felt a need to express himself.
At age 15, his affinity for the microphone became loud after he joined The Hot Boys, a Kisangani-based rap outfit. He then pursued a solo career in 2005 with the single VIP as his first outing. His follow-up single Eveil (Awakening) in 2006 was a very political track released during the national election campaign. It confirmed him as a promising artiste on the local scene. Much of his sharp and uncompromising repertoire is inspired by the daily life in Kisangani.
Theatre Factory (Uganda) Saturday 8pm, Auditorium
The purveyors of the National Theatre’s weekly dose of laughter known to many as the Comedy Nite are very much a part of the 2010 Bayimba International Festival of the Arts. Theatre Factory will bring its witty sketch comedy to stretch your funny bones. A mainstay on the now cluttered stand-up and sketch comedy scene, Theatre Factory boasts being the pioneers in this stage art form way back in July 2003.
They also take great pride in pioneering an art form that now has fun-loving folk has patronising theatres yet again. What sets them apart is their ability to incorporate collaborative pre-show performances on top of the sketch comedy. This way, Theatre Factory does not waver in providing weekly comfort and laughter to audiences as well while showcasing Uganda’s unique sense of art and creativity at the same time. Their regular shows are on every Thursday at 8.30pm prompt.