The Visionary

Walter Portrait1

web-title-walter

“My uncle was one of the most dedicated people I have known to his God-given craft.
He is the inspiration behind a lot of what we do here at Almasi Collaborative Arts.
We will be forever grateful for him.”
~ Danai Gurira

THE BEGINNING

Born in Colonial Rhodesia Walter Muparutsa strived to gain his education and earned degrees at Technical College. He then went on to work for the Rhodesia Literature Bureau where he rose to Head Editorial Officer, and covered the publishing of Shona and English manuscripts while also presenting educational radio programs. He later played a crucial role in building Zimbabwe’s film and theater industry. In 1977 Walter Muparutsa founded Chiedza Drama (in the capital: Harare’s township district) through this organization he adapted plays from Shona novels and directed and toured the plays around greater Harare.

During the same period Muparutsa was involved in the activities of Silveira House (Catholic Youth Training Centre) where he assisted in the formation of Mabvuku Catholic Youth Drama Club and Conducted workshops (theatre acting skills & writing plays), seminars and leadership courses. In 1970 he joined Sundown Theatre, a professional theatre group under John Haig at Prince Edward School leading to him taking his first professional and lead role in Wole Soyinka’s famous play, Kongi’s Harvest. By 1980 awards had started coming his way some of which were; Best Actor in the National Winter fest Theatre Festival for my role in Athol Fugard’s Nongogo, as adjudicated by RADA Theatre Practitioners from the United Kingdom; he was the first Black person to win this award in post independent Zimbabwe, and the 1983 Best Actor award again jointly with Dominic Kanaventi in Andrew Whaley’s play Platform Four.

In no time Walter rose to that position in the theatrical world where he could adjudicate as seen in 1986 – 1987 where he was appointed Adjudicator for the National Winter fest High Schools Theatre Festival. With this he continued as is seen in his appointment as the 2005 – 2006 National Theatre Monitor/Adjudicator for the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe’s National Arts merit Awards (NAMA)

THE VISIONARY LEADER

One of the most outstanding features in Walter is that he was an all rounder. He was a writer, director, producer, promoter and actor (Radio, Television, Theatre, and Film & Crafts) mentor and teacher. In 1997/98 Coordinator of the national theatre programme of the project Entertainers Against AIDS: Theatre And Music and in 2004/5 he directed 2 South African Plays: “The Island” & “Sizwe Bansi Is Dead” to celebrate 10 years of freedom & democracy in South Africa for the S.A Embassy in Harare. He has also went out to show the place of arts in developmental issues through the 2004 radio serial drama for Media for Development (MFD) English/Shona “Mopani Junction” – 104 Shona and English episodes. Here he was both a director and a member of the scripting team.

Walter Muparutsa was a guru in Zimbabwe’s theatre industry; a founding father. Over the years and for many years he was involved in numerous theatre related activities imbued with social awareness. He fearlessly battled societal issues through his craft. He worked with countless institutions and festivals such as the Zimbabwe International Film Festival, Harare International Festival of the Arts – HIFA, Chimanimani Arts Festival, Manica Arts Fest, UNDP Artists Against Poverty Programme, Global Arts Trust, Pamberi Trust, Media for Development International Inc (Colorado, USA), to name a few.

He believed in nurturing the next generation with the skills, abilities and integrity crucial to building a great Zimbabwe Dramatic arts sector. Accordingly he trained and worked with Radio Drama producers, directors, production managers, engineers and artists, giving technical advice in the production and post-production phases of recording the first cycle using completed scripts. He served as a Consultant with W K Kellogg Foundation/ Africa University/ Chimanimani Rural District Partnership Program, the annual Dag Hammarskjold by the Swedish Embassy, W K Kellogg’s Indian American Institute of Arts (IAIA) cultural exchange program with Native Americans and Tengenenge artists.

One of his notable achievements is the 2008/9 founding of the Zimbabwe Theatre Association which is registered with National Arts Council in an attempt to create an equitable Theatre sector in Zimbabwe that allowed for fair and transparent practices in the dramatic arts. As an activist he used his art as a platform to address current Zimbabwean issues as variant as corruption and HIV AIDS.

THE WALTER MUPARUTSA ARTIST FELLOWSHIP

Walter Muparutsa was taken from us too soon. His light shining bright over the present and future Zim Arts Sector right to the end. Battling with Hodgkins for several years he never missed a beat, working tirelessly in his beloved chosen path, guiding and mentoring while performing and organizing the next project and or festival right to the end. His spirit was one of indomitable courage, excellence, vision and integrity. He also had a remarkable sense of humor and approached all things with verve and passion. The example he leaves is a clear one, that without those components, nothing sustainable with result. In that vein and in his honor we at Almasi arts wish to introduce the WALTER MUPARUTSA ARTIST FELLOWSHIP which will be presented yearly to a young Zimbabwean dramatic artist who manifests Mr Muparutsa’s type of talent, excellence, intergrity and vision. The Fellowship will allow the artist to, for one year, pursue their craft without the ever present incumberances of life expenses. It will also serve as a time when this artist will be mentored by ALMASI and have their works ultimately produced by the production team. The Fellow, will, in the course of that year serve as Almasi’s resident artist and create and nurture their own works while, in the spirit of Mr Muparutsa, work with the larger Zimbabwean Arts sector outside of Harare and serve those communities in workshops and development.

This fellowship will work to further Mr Muparutsa’s mission of creating a sector of professionalism and excellence in Zimbabwe’s dramatic arts. It will also strive to cultivate the next generation of Leaders in Zimbabwe. So we can build a dramatic arts sector that is self sustaining and resonates beyond our country’s borders. One that will allow the artist to garner a living wage based on their craft. One that is built on such sound foundation that it is propelled beyond this generation to the next and the next.

 

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