Mulungushi University, Zambia
I would like to salute the authors of these four pieces of writing. They are really master pieces. My comments today will be based on the article by Dr Mpolomoka and Dr Banda of Zambian Open University. “Inclusion on Stage: A Zambian Theater Case”.
It is true that projects that are done in a top down fashion do not yield positive results. I remember when i was conducting my research in Zambia – Chibombo district on the Causes of high levels of poverty in the said district, one of the major causes exacerbating poverty in the district was the issue of projects which were being carried in top-down fashion.The government and other non-governmental organisations were bringing programs aimed at reducing poverty, but this was not in consultation with the stakeholders the community. Hence the programs brought by these players were inappropriate. As a result, instead of reducing, levels of poverty continued to increase.
This is the same way in which Theater for Development is executed in Zambia. Theater for Development (TfD) is a very vital tool which brings everyone on board regardless of race, age, colour and disability to share ideas. in short, it is inclusive type of learning. However, as pointed out by the two authors, main objective of TfD is always diluted by the sponsors and the groups themselves. it is very important that the members who come together to form these theatre groups pass through appropriate and formal education where the values and core purpose of TfD is imparted. Furthermore, the government and non-governmental organisations who always hire these groups to deserminate information on their behalf must not direct these groups, but fit into their programs. Equipped with appropriate and formal education, the theater groups are in a position to see the need to go in the communities to find out issues that are affecting people. Hence the sponsors of TfD need really to be challenged to engage the theater groups and leave them to freely do what they know best.
The theater groups need to conduct their own research on the issues affecting the livelihood of the communities. It is through these researches that members in the communities will participate. When the theater groups go to perform to the same communities, the message will sink well into the communities as they are also the participants.
As alluded to earlier on, the main purpose of theater groups is always diluted. Instead of educating and spread information they end up entertaining. The sponsors of these theater groups should own them so that they really focus on their real work of researching and performing what they know than wasting time looking for sponsors.