Explicit euphoria invaded the atmosphere as the anticipating crowd cheered in what seemed like an unusual cross between curiosity for what they were about to witness, as well as a hint of dread for the same.

Saturday July 13th, at last the long awaited Masvingo Youth Arts Festival (MAYA) was upon us. To kick start this event, the Crushers Crew; a team of young, vibrant and most certainly talented dancers enticed the onlookers. The PA-systems amplified the neatly crafted array of songs that they swayed their bodies rhythmically to as it enchanted passersby to inevitably join the mass. The flash mob proved to be a perfect curtain raiser indeed!

The event was hosted by My Age Zimbabwe Trust in conjunction with TellZim News. My Age is a youth led and youth serving organization that specializes in the empowerment of the youth with a focus on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights as well as the encouragement of meaningful youth participation in decision making at various levels. The TellZim News is a top notch intransigent voice that is known for “keeping it real” with complete lack of bias, profanity nor deceit.

With that in mind, the two game changers realized that in order to breach the gap between the constitution and the citizens who are subject to it; knowledge had to be dished out. The theme for MAYA was ‘Constitutionalism and Civic Engagement- youth changing the narratives.’ I have coined this adage, “The cavity between the establishment of the constitution and its implementation is the pace at which the least of mankind attains knowledge on it.” Spare your life by refusing to be fooled, blinded or otherwise misguided by the “ignorance is bliss” proverb. Knowledge is power, confidence and security, juxtaposed to that ignorance is a free ticket to abuse on any level.

As planned, the competent Crushers Crew enticed the crowd through staged surprise flash-mobs in town – a new thing in Masvingo-  and drove them right into the eager belly of the Charles Austin Theatre where the official occasion was set to begin. The ‘ribbon cutter’ was Mr. Onward Chironda, the Executive Director of My Age; who gave a short message on the festival at hand as well as the initiative behind it.

To see to it that the mandate of empowering the youth with knowledge on their rights and the constitution at large was completed, free copies of summarized constitutions were distributed to every single person; in English as well as Shona.

Unquestionably, seeing as it was a youth event by the youth for the youth; there just had to be entertainment! Great local artists graced the function and showcased their talents and hard work. Amongst the great selection was the Tokwe Mukosi hitmaker Ras Caleb, Baba Rah Africa,  WekwaMaramba who serenaded the ladies with his beautifully constructed love songs, he send the funs owl by finishing his act paying tribute to the legend Oliver Mutukudzi performing the song “Ndakuvara” . Yet again, John Beats and the Crushers Crew managed to syncopate their bodies to the beat and Taku ‘the Preacher’ and Susu brought an electric presence to the stage as his poetry melted like caramel as the words dripped on the earlobes of the listeners. Finally, the showstopper of the night, Alchemy whose fans immediately went fanatic just at the exit of the very first syllable from his mouth as he began to perform.

In abstract, the MAYA festival was an unimpeachable success as a huge gathering of youths was impacted. The festival comes to a city that has witnessed festivals like YOCAF, High School Drama Festival and Dzimbabwe Arts Festival, however MAYA is for youth by youth. The future is now and we are the captains. Without knowledge, to what end will we steer this ship? Shall we cast a blind eye to the constitution which inevitably holds our destiny and float ourselves to the ends of the earth trying to find solutions to a problem birthed by sheer ignorance? I repeat, ignorance is your free ticket to being exploited. Know your rights – #Constitutionalise!By Isheanesu Chikumbu