Zimbabwe banned and censored protest singer Viomak has launched her own news site www.viomaknews.com. The news site which features her own stories and opinions is like a diary of her musical activism life since 2005.
The singer whose stories are banned in State newspapers for her stance against ZANUPF and Mugabe also promotes freedom of expression through music in a country that is struggling politically, economically and socially .She was also banned by the independent Zimbabwe Standard newspaper after she suspected the paper’s reporter Vusumuzi Sifile-Sibanda of being a CIO.
With six protest music albums under her name the singer cum political activist is well known for her courage in tackling the situation in Zimbabwe head on through protest music and vibrant activism that has also seen her spearhead a campaign to have Zimbabwe leaders declare their personal assets to monitor corruption.
Her activism and outspokenness has seen her amass a lot of enemies which is one reason why she is banned in Zimbabwe newspapers.
Zimbabwe’s Censorship and Entertainment Control Act censors undesirable music and it doesn’t allow the distribution or selling of undesirable recordings so writing her stories in State newspaper is forbidden .This development has inspired Viomak who said she thanks the Zimbabwe Standard and The Herald for banning her stories as this has given her the determination to come up with her own news site.
“Sometimes bad things happen for a good purpose. This ban has helped me to look beyond the obvious and it has allowed me to live a dream that will impact positively on my work” .She said.
The singer also runs an internet radio station VOTO (Voices of the Oppressed) that promotes the work of Zimbabwe protest artists. Her protest music is banned on state radio so in 2007, she was instrumental in setting up an internet radio station to evade music censorship.
Viomak confirmed that she thinks she also suffers this media black out because she is a woman but is happy that the negative impact has given birth to something positive.
“Some other male protest musicians in Zimbabwe who also sing despising ZANUPF are covered in State media and so there’s more to my ban than what meets the eye. It could be more to do with being a woman too.” She said.
On a more positive note, some media reports recently confirmed that “Zimbabwe’s strict security and media laws criticised by opponents as undemocratic will be relaxed by the end of the year, an official document showed on Monday.”
The reports state that the media changes will also do away with the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).With such developments Viomak is hoping that among other all things voices will be covered in State media.
As Viomak agrees with those who say human rights and education are the first steps to having a more just world, she lends a voice to those who are unable to voice their concerns due to fear, and a news site of her own will not only do justice to her but to all those who are interested in following the trends of modern day Zimbabwe protest music which is rarely covered in Zimbabwe mainstream media. The banned singer has the internet to thank.
The government of Zimbabwe has taken away the rights of Zimbabweans and Viomak’s music speaks on all these issues. She confirmed that she will use the opinions section of her news site to write freedom of expression articles and other human rights issues.
“We have to celebrate human dignity and tolerance of each other‘s views is paramount in building a peaceful society that respects human dignity.” She said.
The outspoken singer has mentioned that, using her voice to the call for human rights has become very instrumental in bringing attention to the plight of oppressed Zimbabweans around the world and in some instances creating conditions for their help. The world today is talking of globalization, and her music continues to sing in support of such an agenda for a just and tolerant world.
If the opportunity arises Viomak confirmed that she is willing to set up an independent print media newspaper in Zimbabwe that will see to it that banned voices are not discriminated against, but are given the opportunity to be heard just like everyone else.
A victim of censorship who is personally experiencing what it is like to be banned by media Viomak said she doesn’t want anyone else to experience the same, this is why she found it necessary to have her own news site so that all those who are banned can follow suit and come up with more ways of evading censorship .
Currently the media fraternity in Zimbabwe is dominated by men and Viomak has helped to resolve this discrepancy with a viable solution of having her own news site. If all goes according to plan Viomak said she is willing to set up a news site that will focus on Zimbabwe women issues. The project will see the rise of women media movements that will contribute to women development and the rise of a new society of media activists who are willing to support each other in times of media blackout and neglect. A society that considers humanistic transformations that create new work and regenerate the media environment.
“Women-centered media houses are desperately needed in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe women journalists are not doing enough to promote other women and coming up with a news site that promotes other women is an idea that will help to empower all the women who are being neglected by their own”. Said Viomak
Her news project will build a platform that allows women to be architects of their own struggles. The singer is pursuing a new generation of women who start their own news sites as an articulation of aspirations, a reaction to a range of social, economic, and political realities revealing themselves as a backbone for life in all its complexity. The new site is varied in its intentions and impact and is a stimulus for changing attitudes.
Socio-cultural and political factors have limited Zimbabwe women’s role in media development and Viomak’s achievement will make it possible for a breakthrough to be achieved. The news site will move her cause steps ahead. Quite a challenging and inspiring move to other women.