Pro-Democracy Activist Gets International Creative Dissent Prize

Thomas Madhuku

, #263Chat, News

Pro-democracy activist and playwright Silvanos Bhanditi Mudzvova has won an international prize for using art and performance to push for democracy in Zimbabwe.

According to the Human Rights Foundation “Silvanos Mudzvova’s persistence in using art and performance to challenge dictatorship is an inspiration.

Mudzvova captured during one of his plays

“The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2017 Václav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent.

“This year’s laureates are Zimbabwean activist and playwright Silvanos Mudzvova, Venezuelan satirical media project El Chigüire Bipolar, and Bahraini poet and activist Aayat Alqormozi,” said Havel Prize Committee Chairman Thor Halvorssen.

In an interview with 263Chat, Mudzvova said he is pleased with winning the prize which he said will only serve to strengthen his activism.

“This award will strengthen the role of theatre in activism. My greatest aim is to motivate many artists to participate in national development issues,” said Mudzvova.

He added that he will continue to create more work with the reward he got to increase the impact of arts in pushing for democracy and development in Zimbabwe.

Mudzvova who is currently in United Kingdom on Artist Protection Fund (APF) Fellowship at The University of Manchester said he owes his prize to Zimbabweans who shared his videos on social media adding that Human Rights Foundation picked his works online and decided to honor him.

Silvanos Mudzvova arrested after his performance at the Parliament of Zimbabwe last year

“The more we voice and raise concern about issues affecting our nation the sooner we will have development as a nation,” said Mudzvova.

HRF founded the Havel Prize in collaboration with Dagmar Havlová, widow of the late poet, playwright, and statesman Václav Havel. Havel served as the chairman of HRF until his death in December 2011. The prize celebrates those who, with bravery and ingenuity, unmask the lie of dictatorship by living in truth. Past laureates include Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, Russian punk protest group Pussy Riot, North Korean democracy activist Park Sang Hak, Saudi women’s rights advocate Manal al-Sharif, and Cuban graffiti artist El Sexto.

Silvanos Mudzvova is a Zimbabwean actor, playwright, and activist known for challenging the country’s dictator, Robert Mugabe, in daring theatrical productions. Silvanos works with the protest group Tajamuka/Sesijikile and serves as the director of Vhitori Entertainment Trust, a theater group created to protest Zimbabwe’s democracy crisis, human rights abuses, and poor governance.

Silvanos has directed several controversial performances including “The Final Push,” a political satire; “Missing Diamonds, I Need My Share;” a play on corruption in the diamond industry; and “Protest Revolutionaries,” a play that encourages Zimbabweans to plan their own Arab Spring. Silvanos has been detained and arrested several times. To avoid government persecution, Silvanos now performs what he calls “hit-and-run” performances in public spaces. Silvanos has been awarded an Artist Protection Fund (APF) Fellowship and is currently in-residence for this at The University of Manchester.

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