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Zimbabwean Youth Flies to Kenya for Adventure and Learning

By Sharon F. Mazvihwa,16, Zimbabwe

signe zeilich-jensen with Wangari Kiarie at Lola Kenya ScreenI arrived in Nairobi on the eve of the third edition of the annual Lola Kenya Screen audiovisual media festival, skill-development and marketing platform for children and youth in eastern Africa.

My participation in this important event was made possible by the partnership between Zimbabwe International Film Festival Trust’s Postcards from Zimbabwe project, Art Moves Africa and Lola Kenya Screen.

I had never thought I would in a plane, but I did fly by Kenya Airways; I had never imagined that I would sleep in a hotel, but I did sleep in a fantastic hotel in Nairobi in Kenya. The food served in this hotel was really good. The hotel was excellent and I actually enjoyed every moment in Kenya.

Lola Kenya Screen was held at the Kenya National Theatre in Nairobi. It was held under the directorship of Ogova Ondego. We had the Official opening of the festival in the evening of August 10, 2008. I was honoured to be introduced as an international guest of the festival.

The following morning the children and youth in the official skill-development programmes—filmmaking, cultural journalism, event presentation and jury—were directed to their various areas, meeting and chatting with people and youngsters from different countries. I was in the Film Jury.

After introduction to film criticism by Ogova Ondego and Signe Zeilich-Jensen of Holland, the Jury watched and discussed the films in the official competition. Ondego had taught us what to look for using the journalistic formula of 5Ws and H (Who, What, Where, When, Why & How) and GOAT (Goal, Obstacles, Answers, Time).

After the introduction Zeilich-Jensen took over as Jury Mentor under whose supervision we worked. As a team we worked hard. I really had the spirit to do everything I was told to do. We had to watch a film, discuss it according to the film competition score sheet that looked at films according to (1) the topic or theme, (2) storyline, (3) directing, and (4) technical quality.

The films we considered favourably had to speak positively to children of diverse backgrounds and cultures, had to provide strong role models for both boys and girls, had to be child-driven and with stories that were culturally authentic, timely and of universal appeal.

I was the only Zimbabwean in the four-member Jury. We had been taught that when judging a film one should humble oneself, smile and relax. We were to be at the right place at the right time, do the right thing and judge films fairly. At the end of Lola Kenya Screen—during the Closing Ceremony–the Jury team announced and awarded the winners. I announced the Golden Mboni, Silver Mboni and Bronze Mboni awards for the best, second best and third best children’s films, respectively.

At first I was afraid, but I gained confidence when everyone said I was really talented; those words inspired me a lot.

I spent an inspiring week at the festival meeting great and highly motivated people. The children’s films gave me the opportunity to express myself both on a personal and cultural level, and reaching across borders and continents. Culture and cultural education is precious for creative free thinking and democracy.

I thank Lola Kenya Screen for educating me well. It was nice meeting with other children, youth and adults from other countries at Lola Kenya Screen. I learnt many things from them. As children we could speak openly about what life holds for us in filmmaking.

Lola Kenya Screen staff at st james school in Mathare, Nairobi, Kenya.I had a nice time in Kenya. I learnt many things about life and how films are involved in people’s lives. Before I came to Lola Kenya Screen, I was an artist with no one to expose my talent. But my meeting many children, youth and elders who were also going through the innovative programmes of Lola Kenya Screen changed this; I now want to be an art designer and director when I grow up. I am a singer, dancer and poet.

Thank s for letting me part icipate in Lola Kenya Screen programmes. It was while coming to this festival that I first entered a plane. I hope it’s not the last time. I hope to be here again next year. God Bless You!

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