By Prince Chidzvondo
As the scourge of gender-based violence continues unabated and worse during the Covid 19 pandemic, conversations revolving around gender-based violence were once limited before they became hashtags and the world felt a need for more to be said. A lot is still said, yet ignoring how a little is done. With fresh conversations revolving around more solutions, a question still rises over how much Art still stands as a voice or an expression preaching the societal ails.
Outstanding actress, mother, and performer, Jo-Anne Tenga, speaks for the need of the Arts to elevate, increase combat and awareness against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) through action, following the premiere of the new YouTube series “Kugara Nhaka Kuona Dzevamwe” in which she stars.
During the #16DaysOfActivism campaign, which is an international campaign to raise awareness and fight against GBV, Bus Stop TV premiered a new YouTube Series that features Jo-Anne Tenga and Sharon Maggi Chideu among other performers. They pull a stunning performance relating to each of their different characters who go through altered ails and different traumas, yet, dramatizing realities society has seen, heard, and gone through.
The series focuses on different households who interact on a daily, exploring the personal relationships around them. The issues around GBV are carried delicately, yet they are in a deeper margin than the generalized stereotypes of violence people think. It advances further into exploring different types of abuse at different stages of these relationships – amongst all genders and different financial backgrounds. It breaks into issues of mental health and teenage pregnancy from a new perspective. It opens up conversations about privilege, dominance, and stereotyping.
Jo-Anne notes the need for more relatable stories to be told as she plays a relatable character who suffers from emotional abuse during her marriage without realizing both its presence and consequence.
The thespian added a few strong points that ignite artists to take the stand against gender-based violence, and how the industry must never tire.
“The importance of art as a medium to raise awareness on gender-based violence has been an integral part in fighting societal and legal control of women’s bodies. If they were more stories and more art presenting the true reflections of everyday society, more people would know that hidden demons are the strongest. As the arts, we try to alert people about gender-based violence but more can be done, more solutions, more on what needs to be done and how people understand where it’s happening, how it’s happening and why.”
“The series is something I am proud of, I am proud of telling this story. I wouldn’t give my performance as honestly as I could if I didn’t feel the story. On camera, a part of me wanted to bring in the message that’s really out there, I wanted to bring that feeling into space to capture the essence of the story and turn it into something tangible. Women are dying out there, ever other artists are going through these things.”
She believes that fighting gender-based violence is a long process that starts with deconstructing the social, legal, and economic roots of gender inequality and tells those stories and their dynamics. On her side-lines, Jo-Anne keeps the activism alive by being part of live conversations, advising people, telling stories, and joining awareness campaigns. She plights the need for activism, noting how creative art plays a very important role in gender-based violence advocacy.
Bearing her fort in different groups, she helps with programs that seek to enlighten people about the realities of gender-based violence.
“I am in women groups,” she says, “I perform these conversations and I preach about them whenever I can. I have online stories that tell about gender-based violence and turmoil. As writers, singers, performers, we must break the culture of violence and abuse.”
In the past, other artists have held their own presentations in the form of writing, exhibitions, theatre, and more. The favor of art is its ability to reflect on heartbreaking testimonials, stories of survival and hope, stories of forgiveness, accountability healing.
With art like this, they can be more elaborate on the fact that people who are involved in any acts of gender-based violence do so because they see nothing wrong with it, or they justify it. More stories are needed to change the mentality of people on how they what gender-based violence and abuse is, that way, the narratives will be told better.