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Artists are revolutionaries, says Chigo

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Celebrated poet Chigo Gondwe says she is thankful to former South African former president Thabo Mbeki and his wife Zanele for opening up spaces for her to use her poetic gift to drive change and progress on the continent.

Chigo put the country in the limelight last weekend when she performed at the 80th birthday celebration for the former president in South Africa where dished out poem titled ‘80 Circles Around the Sun’.

“I am thankful to God for this opportunity. The Mbekis have been involving me in their projects despite being high profile people. They have demonstrated that leaders should be accessible and also create opportunities for people,” Chigo, who is back in the country, said on Wednesday.

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She said the Mbeki family has seen the role that artists have in society, hence embracing her talent and utilising her in their events.

“Artists are revolutionaries and this has been an underlying principle that Mrs Zanele Mbeki has reiterated to me over the years; to use my gift to drive change and progress on the continent, especially as a woman creative,” Chigo said.

She said it was Mbeki’s wife, who arranged for her to perform at her husband’s 80th birthday celebration.

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“She is a leader on the continent, in terms of the women’s movement, and she is extremely passionate about enabling the participation of young women in the movement and in continental development.

“She has availed numerous opportunities me over the last 20 or so years, to advance the ideals of women empowerment and pan-Africanism, and the necessary process of decolonising African minds, through my poetry,” Chigo said.

She recalled her invitation by Mbeki’s wife saying, she called her to say it was her husband’s birthday on Saturday (last Saturday) and that he was Africa to her and that she wanted to celebrate him.

She said she got connected to the Mbekis through her sister Taweni Gondwe Ncaba, who was involved as a volunteer in one of the organisations that Mrs Mbeki founded, known as South African Women in Dialogue.

Asked whether she has plans to hold any local performances soon, Chigo was not certain, saying she has not been booked.

“In the coming months, I am going to host something small, maybe at a restaurant or something, to share some writings I have been working on during my hibernation,” she said.

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