The Sunday News
Bruce Ndlovu, Sunday Life Reporter
THE Bulawayo City Council has come out and said that the arts are not part of groups that are afforded burial in prominent and distinguished pioneer residents’ cemeteries, after comedian Clive Chigubu was recently denied the honour of being laid to rest at Lady Stanley Cemetery.
City fathers also denied a request to have his service at the Bulawayo Amphitheatre, with proceedings finally going ahead outside his family home in Barbourfields.
There was widespread outcry about the actions of the city authorities, who had sent a flurry of condolence messages before the burial of Chigubu, highlighting his outstanding contribution to the arts in the city.
Ironically, during the burial of Chigubu, the city’s deputy mayor Councillor Mlandu Ncube remarked that the city needed to take better care of its artistes.
“We are saying come forward and we help each other to grow. I think we should create a policy that as long as you are applying for a licence in Bulawayo, what is your policy towards arts. Bulawayo should contribute towards the economy of the country through the creative industry, this is what we should do. So, this has taught us that we have got a lot of comedians and I will have to look through this with my colleagues on how we can slot them and develop the talent and grow our city,” he said.
BCC released a statement on Friday saying that the arts were not part of recognised categories for special honours.
According to BCC Corporate Communications Manager Nesisa Mpofu, the criteria is outlined in terms of the Council Resolution of 6 May 2015.
For one to be buried at prominent and distinguished pioneer residents’ cemeteries, they need to have resided in Bulawayo for a continuous period of 20 years, had outstanding contribution to the wellbeing of the community as a whole in one or more of the fields of social activities in civic matters, education, religious leadership, business leadership, sports, charity, journalism, outstanding donations (in kind or cash), outstanding trade unionism, invention that benefited the community as a whole and any other outstanding contributions as may be deemed appropriate from time to time.
Others that might be buried at the cemetery are the spouse of a deceased eligible person already buried in such a cemetery or those for whom a committee, made up of the mayor, Chairpersons of the Health, Housing and Education Committee and the Director of Housing and Community Services, have assessed and approved their request based on the current Council resolution.
Fellow artiste, Babongile Sikhonjwa said it was futile for BCC to go about touting the city as the home of the arts when in actual fact, it did not recognise them. He said the city could not ask the arts sector to craft an arts policy document, when the industry did not fall within disciplines given respect by city fathers.
“If the city council does not recognise us, the city fathers should not have been everywhere around the funeral, busy trying to get clout off the funeral of someone that they say does not matter. You cannot get mileage off the popularity of artistes then claim that they don’t matter. If we don’t matter, they should not come at all because that is better than getting treated like dirt.
“Bulawayo is the only city that has a festival and the very festival was organised and sponsored by the city council.
That festival was opened by the President of the country. So why then do we go around telling people that we are the home of the arts when we fail to recognise artistes? What role does trade unionism play in Bulawayo today?
Honestly, they must change some of these colonial laws because then what was the point of our fathers going to war if we are going to be subjected to the same kind of thinking,” Sikhonjwa said.