Located about 25km south of Harare, Chitungwiza is Zimbabwe’s largest urban high density suburb and is estimated to have a population of 1 Million people.
Because of the lack of a vibrant formal industry in Chitungwiza and the general lack of formal employment in Zimbabwe, many residents resorted to careers in visual and performing arts. Chitungwiza is a low income city and levels of poverty are relatively high as compared to other urban suburbs in Zimbabwe. Art has however been a way out of poverty for a number of artists.
The City is a fertile breeding ground for talent in arts and many among the successful artists in Zimbabwe be it in visual or in performing art grew up in the dusty streets of Chitungwiza. The City has produced great musicians like Alick Macheso, the late Leonard Dembo, Nicholas Zacharia, the late Marshall Munhumumwe, Charles Charamba, among others. In visual art Chitungwiza has produced world renowned artists like Sylvester Mubayi, Willard Chiwawa and the late Fanizani Akuda.
The old adage “You become what you see” is proven true in Chitungwiza where people are exposed to art at very early stages of their lives. Having grown up in Chitungwiza, I have a first hand experience of how many among my peers became artists because their fathers, uncles or neighbours were artists. Walking to school as kids we used to pass through Makoni Shopping Centre where youngsters used to perform live bands using home made guitars and home made drums.
Some communities in Chitungwiza became Sculpture communities as a result of a number of sculptors working from the same neighbourhood; such a neighbourhood is Unit O in the Seke township of Chitungwiza.
The establishment of Chitungwiza Arts Centre was a deliberate move aimed at encouraging the development of art in Chitungwiza.
As AVAC Arts we have created a platform for Artists based in Chitungwiza to showcase their talents to the world. This initiative is our own contribution to the growth of the arts industry which we believe can become Chitungwiza economy’s great contributor.