Gwanza Month of Photography kicked off on 19TH August at the modern Joina City Mall. Organisers definitely chose a sophisticated venue on the 14th floor of the mall. I attended the exhibition launch with my dear sister, Saranna. For me, it was my first time at the mall which opened 4 years ago.
The event was well attended by local artists, photographers, bloggers, journalists and diplomats. While it was well attended, more could have been done in terms of set up. The lighting could have been warmer and the general decor more inviting. Adding on, only 5 medium –sized pieces hung on the walls for exhibition. One would have preferred more work of the participating photographers from across the continent. The work on display featured photographers from all around Africa. One of my favourite was a Kenyan photo captured by Felix Masi. The attention grabbing photo features young African males playing the violin in what appears to be a slum of some sort. The contrast of the highly skilled violin musicians in this “unlikely” setting definitely stood out for me.
One of the highlights of the night was the alternative reggae band playing on the 14th floor balcony at the mall. It was a stunning moment set in the heart of Harare’s CBD. The band played retro reggae music with the Harare skyline in the background. While our city isn’t as bright as it could be (ZESA PROBLEMS). The Harare lights added a warm and urban feel to the exhibition. The unique setting was undeniably urban innovation at its best. A metropolitan and artistic fusion. The venue location would make the perfect site for an upmarket Harare Afro-Jazz Lounge.
Another highlight of the evening was meeting award-winning author, screen writer and film maker, Tsitsi Danagarembga. The award-winning feminist is the brilliant author behind Nervous Conditions for those who might not know her. Not to add, the screen writer of Zimbabwe’s highest grossing film, Neria. I excitedly introduced myself and my blog. What really impressed me about this power woman is how humble and genuine she is. Tsitsi actually quizzed me about what I wrote about on my blog. It was quite difficult to explain the content on my blog to someone who has created such profound and reflective work which is immersed in social awareness and insightful commentary. Either way it was a priceless moment with one of Zimbabwe’s leading authors.
Gwanza launch was definitely located in a new and fresh venue. While there was a need for more work to be showcased and attention to décor and lighting. The night was well attended and the breath-taking night view of Harare’s CBD was undeniably a rewarding and beautiful set up. Be sure to check some of the work on exhibition till the 19th of September.