First-ever Human Rights Festival rocks Musina

First-ever Human Rights Festival rocks Musina

The Musina showground were filled with joy and fun as various Zimbabweans and South Africans came together to celebrate the first-ever Zimbabwe Human Rights Arts Festival held in the border time last weekend. The festival was organised by the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition.

"Choosing to host the festival in Musina was not by accident but it was because Musina is the first port of call for Zimbabweans coming to South Africa therefore it made sense to spread information on organisations that can better assist Zimbabweans with various issues pertaining to access to education, health and legal services," said Dewa Mavhinga, Regional Coordinator of the Coalition.

Zimbabwean artists such as Madiz, Jonah Moyo and the Devera Ngwena Jazz Band entertained the gathered crowds with music and dance. Madiz was the pick of the crowd, performing his hit song commonly known as Amina. Although the festival was addressing critical issues of human rights and human dignity, it was also the perfect platform to have migrant Zimbabweans forget about all the challenges bedeviling them and enjoy life for a while.

Through entertainment, these critical issues were raised through drama mostly. Mus'Town, a local drama group of young South Africans, performed one such drama, acting out the experiences most Zimbabweans crossing the Limpopo encounter. Such experiences range from sexual abuse of young girls, xenophobia attacks, child labour and the challenge of accessing education services by young migrants.

Mrs Sithole from El shaddai Church Shelter were some Zimbabwean immigrants stay while looking for employment or in transit to other South African cities highlighted the desperate lack of resources suffered by her shelter in Musina, noting especially the failure to provide a safe and secure environment from Zimbabweans.

The use of art, according to Sharon Gwati, the festival coordinator can help to generate dialogue which will help in moving forward as well as improving the standards of living for the immigrants

Dewa Mavhinga, the Coordinator of Crisis in Zimbabwe highlighted the importance of civil society organisations to come together and work for the common good of promoting human rights and dignity. Nora Tapiwa from Global Zimbabwe forum expressed her concerns at the high number of unaccompanied Zimbabwe minors found in Musina. There is an alarming number of minors that cross the Limpopo and set base in Musina, but most alarming is the exchange of food and other necessities for sexual favours that is rampant in the border town.

The festival ended on a high note and opened up numerous possibilities for various organisations to work in Musina as well as for next edition.

By Regina Pazvakavambwa, Media Assistant in the Regional Office.

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