Meet Shorai Matambanadzo – Conserving wildlife and empowering girls through art
I am an ecological artist. My responsibility is to make residents in a cluster of villages where I work outside Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, aware of the connection between art and conservation. One place I do this is Rise and Shine Girls Club sponsored by Global Sojourns Giving Circle.
The 35 girls in the club have grown up seeing their male relatives chop down trees, carve small animals to sell to tourists and ferry the curios to market. This tourism-based art model threatens the once-plentiful hardwood forests of Southern Africa, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. Erosion and other impacts of deforestation are made worse by the erratic climate.
For these girls, woodcarving is the only art they know. So Auntie Sfe and I are introducing sustainable art forms, with drawing, composition and photography lesson. All three can enhance awareness and sharpen observation, providing new and creative ways to see the world and its interconnections.
In 2018, we want to take the Rise and Shine girls to conservation areas, introduce other art forms, and assemble a team that will produce, if we can find a camera or two, a photo show or video documenting the impacts — both good and bad — of tourism on their villages.
Change must start with these girls. Perhaps they will be among Zimbabwe’s first generation of indigenous environmentalists or eco artists.