Arts and culture Community Development Music

“Musicable” project launched to promote disability inclusion in music industry

Raven Duchess (mentor) and Jacqueline Mpofu (mentee)
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POVOAfrika Trust has launched the “Musicable” project, an innovative empowerment programme that will support People With Disabilities in the music industry in recording their work and accessing markets. The current project will focus on women with disabilities in the music industry.

Propelled by Music In Africa Foundation (MIAF) and Goethe-Institut support, Musicable will capacitate artists with disabilities by facilitating access to home recording tools. The project will also empower artists by linking them to mainstream markets through mentorship programs with established artists. The mentorship program will culminate in a collaborative song between the mentor and mentee.

Raven Duchess, Pauline Gundidza, and Vuyo Brown will mentor women artists with disabilities, Jacqueline Mpofu, Chipo Muchegwa, and Sithandazile Gumbo, respectively. Musicable will run in Harare, Bulawayo, and Mutare between 19 June and 15 September 2023. It is part of POVOAfrika Trust’s increased support to communities that are often excluded from significant opportunities across Zimbabwe.

According to the United Nations, Persons with Disabilities include those with long-term physical, mental, intellectual, or sensory impairments which, in interaction with various barriers, may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.

As part of the project, Musicable will produce a documentary of the journey shared by the mentor and mentee. The short film will highlight the challenges faced by artists with disabilities and how they work to overcome them. The documentary will be complemented by capacity-building workshops that will bring together artists with disabilities, industry professionals, and leaders within the arts and cultural sectors.

The workshops will go beyond documenting the challenges to providing practical solutions for the artists. Soneni Gwizi, a woman with a disability who is a well-known Disability Advocate and award-winning communicator, is the Project Advisor and will be facilitating the workshops.

Musicable is not POVOAfrika Trust’s first involvement in music-aligned projects. In 2014 and 2015, POVOAfrika Trust released SpeakSing Volume 1 and 2 compilation CDs which featured spoken word and songs from up-and-coming artists in partnership with HIVOS. POVOAfrika has enjoyed a longstanding relationship with HIVOS. The two organisations partnered on the POVO Journal between 2009 and 2020.

In 2021, POVOAfrika partnered with Music in Africa Foundation on #16WomenVoices as part of MIAF’s Music in Africa Live initiative. The project consisted of live performances by female musicians tackling themes ranging from ending violence against women to celebrating women’s rights. In the same year, POVOAfrika published a literary work, Sokunge (As if), documenting works and articles by Masimba Hwati.

In 2022, POVOAfrika Trust produced Nehanda Reimagined, a project that sought to write Mbuya

Nehanda back into the Zimbabwean memory. Nehanda Reimagined was a collection of essays, short stories, poetry, academic articles, drawings, paintings, prints, photographs, and other depictions of one of Zimbabwe’s most influential female protagonists.

POVOAfrika Trust seeks to build on the success and lessons from these past projects as they embark on Musicable.

POVOAfrika Trust is a non-profit and apolitical voluntary organisation focusing on social development through arts and cultural projects. POVOAfrika Trust is also proactively involved in sustainability initiatives to address the effect of climate change on the environment through support from various technical development partners from Government, civil society, and the corporate sector.

About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende