Street Art to Promote Representation and Epistemic Justice among Marginalized Rural Zimbabwean Youth

Street Art to Promote Representation and Epistemic Justice among Marginalized Rural Zimbabwean Youth is a Changing the Story Phase 2 ECR project.

This project focuses on rural Binga, a significantly underdeveloped rural district located in Matabeleland North in Zimbabwe. The area is largely inhabited by the minority group Tonga people who have been subject to marginalisation, social violence and exclusion. The project seeks to document these through participatory street art with the aim of encouraging social cohesion, making their experiences and knowledge visible, and contributing to epistemic justice. Epistemic injustice means a person is in a disadvantaged position to influence public discourse and is marginalised due to unfair treatment about knowledge, participation in communicative practices or representation (Fricker, 2015). This project generates a democratic space by giving Tonga youth an opportunity to tell the stories about the lives they value and doing research with Tonga youth rather than on them to promote social awareness 

The aims of the project are to: 

  1. Provide a platform for Tonga youth to voice their aspirations and to address the social powerlessness they hold. 
  1. Identify how youth and CSOs can work together to address social cohesion and epistemic injustices. 
  1. Bring the issues of marginalised youth to the attention of the policy-makers, local stakeholders, discuss the role of participatory arts as an intercultural learning tool for deconstructing the bias against such groups. 

The project involves NGOs, government agencies, museums, and art galleries, and urban university youth to dismantle longstanding stereotypes against the Tonga community. The partners of this project are Batonga Community Museum in Binga and the Basilwizi Yrust youth NGO. The Batonga Community Museum will help with the design of the art-based methodology, arttraining, exhibition and dissemination of artefacts. The NGO will work with youth on design, production and delivery of artefacts and be active in workshops in ensuring communication between stakeholders. Working with these two local organisations can create transformational platforms and new synergies which can contribute to building long-lasting social relationships. 

Resources

The following Book of Art showcases the graffiti art created by the Binga youth and the process and idea behind each piece.
View the book
While exploring the everyday experiences of Tonga youth, this paper, 'Participatory art for navigating political capabilities and aspirations among rural youth in Zimbabwe' draws on a participatory graffiti-on-board project in Binga, a rural community in Zimbabwe. Authors Faith Mkwananzi, Melis Cin, and Tendayi Marovah place focus on what shapes and drives youth aspirations in precarious contexts marked by unemployment and poverty. Using graffiti to create participatory and artistic engagements, the research aims to stretch the limited boundaries of social and political space available to the youth for discussing issues that concern their development pathways and livelihoods. The article presents everyday narratives that impact on Tonga youths’ aspirations, endeavouring to create a space where they can visualise their prospective futures.
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The current movement for decolonising universities should also be applied to research ‘partnerships’ and their unequal balance of power, say Faith Mkwananzi and Melis Cin in this op-ed published October 2021.
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The following images were taken during the project’s 5 day street art workshop in August 2019:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The graffitis produced by the youth have been exhibited in Bulawayo at the National Art Gallery, at the National Museum in Harare and at the Midland state university in Gweru.

The following images were taken during the exhibitions:

Click here to find out more about the project exhibitions.

Stay tuned for project updates

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Project Location

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