In a recent discussion held on 19 October, the Pan African Network for Creative Freedom (PANAF) and People’s Action for Accountability and Good Governance in Zambia (PAAGZ) organised an online chatroom event titled “The Welfare of Creatives Speaking Truth to Power in Zambia.” The conversation, which took place on the PANAF website, addressed the difficulties that Zambian artists encounter when participating in political discourse.
The discussion brought to light a number of challenges faced by artists who decide to speak truth to power in their works. One of the main concerns was the economic effects.;creatives often face monetary repercussions when they voice disagreement with or critique those in power. Some who address politically controversial subjects suffer detention, threats from law authorities, or even crippled financially.
Safety was yet another important topic that came up. Artists noted that participating in political activities places their personal safety in jeopardy. There is a genuine fear of being blacklisted from future engagements, intimidated, and threatened. Such concerns about safety frequently result in self-censorship, which reduces the range of viewpoints in the creative community and limits creative expression.
Another subject that was addressed was the role of social media and digital platforms in enabling creatives to voice their concerns. Although these platforms give creatives an opportunity to express their ideas and connect with a larger audience, there are concerns that they are also being abused to propagate false information and divisive stories.
The discussion also underscored the need for government support and the protection of creatives’ rights. It was proposed that agencies such as the National Arts Council (NAC) ought to be more proactive in assisting artists and attending to their issues. Improving the wellbeing of creatives may require fortifying these organisations and making sure they aggressively defend the rights of creatives.
The importance of associations and unions for creatives in Zambia was also stressed. Creatives believe that these groups can support, educate, and advocate for their rights. Therefore, ensuring the welfare of creatives may depend on fortifying these associations and improving their accessibility.
Finally, participants were in agreement that a culture of free expression and critical thinking among creatives can be promoted by incorporating artistic expression into the educational system and educating young people about the rights of creatives. Speaking truth to power without fear may be made easier for creatives by fostering an environment where they are supported in their creative endeavours and aware of their rights. Additionally, there could be more support for creatives who choose to speak truth to power if civil society organisations are strengthened.
“We extend our heartfelt gratitude to PANAF and all the incredible creatives for their invaluable contributions during the Chatroom discussion”PAAGZ project officer Tabita Lilungwe said. “ Creative voices are instrumental in speaking truth to power. Let’s continue to create safe spaces for such critical conversations, fostering positive change through art and advocacy.Let this be the first chapter of many, as we continue to harness the force of art and dialogue to shape a brighter, more equitable future for all.”
The next chatroom session will feature creatives from Uganda on 2 November.
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