A most thought provoking exhibition entitled "The Truth Will Set You Free" was held at the Bulawayo Club last week.
The exhibition was launched initially as an art competition and was run by Bulawayo's community radio station - Radio Dialogue.
Radio Dialogue has been struggling to get a radio license for several years, and they will continue to struggle all the while trying to live up to their motto "Giving You a Voice"
However the exhibitor received little or no attention from the police and unlike Owen Maseko, the organizers of "The Truth Will Set you free" have so far not been arrested …
Maseko opened his exhibition on Thursday 25 March at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo, an artist’s impression of the harsh reality of Gukurahundi as well as the decades of oppression and violence that have characterised Zimbabwe.
Police tape still festoons one of the galleries at the National Gallery where the exhibition took place.
But for some strange reason the Radio Dialogue Exhibition was allowed to continue and many visitors passed through the hallowed halls of the Bulawayo Club to view this disturbing exhibition. That the exhibition was held in the Bulawayo Club under the watchful eye of portraits of many colorful colonial figures, was an irony in itself !
The inspiration for this project was Pablo Picassos's "Guernica" which has been described as modern art’s most powerful anti-war statement. Picasso was of course one of the most famous of 20th Century painters, and "Guernica" commemorates the atrocity of the Nazi air force bombing of the village of Guernica in Picasso’s home Basque country during the Spanish civil war, in which 1600 innocent civilian villagers were killed.
In this project Radio Dialogue commissioned art works, which will become African icons of the suffering of innocent victims caused by racist, tribalistic or politically motivated human rights violations of the past.
Zimbabwe has suffered from violence since the beginning of recorded history. The memory of these violations is still very much alive among Zimbabwean people. Strong anger and resentment goes with it. Unless addressed, such resentment and anger can last for centuries.
The first stage of healing for people who have suffered abuse is public acknowledgement that they have suffered from such abuse.
So long as the general public are unaware of it, or deny that such abuses occurred, the victims still suffer, and retain the hurt, resentment, and desire for vengeance etc. deep within their hearts.
Once the nation publicly acknowledges what happened, then we can move onto the next stage of deciding what to do about it, and taking action to ensure that it never happens again.
This art exhibition aims to achieve the first stage of this process, TRUTH- telling, through artistic representation: simply to state what happened, to publicly commemorate the injustices of the past.
Over the years there have been a series of atrocities. The largest number of deaths in recent years were in Matabeleland during the early to middle 1980s. However, much of the current thrust for reconciliation and healing is coming from the most recent killings, during the 2008 election campaign. But there were also human rights abuses during earlier election campaigns.
And, of course, one can go further back to the liberation war, to the Rhodesian era, to the colonial invasion, to Mzilikazi’s movement into the country, maybe even to whatever led to the departure of the San people to the Kalahari desert.
Please visit our image gallery for more images from the exhibition, or view them on Flickr here.