Of corruption, statesmen and artistes

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SOME statesmen and politicians may wish that arts and culture have nothing to do with economics and politics.
The words they love to use are ‘apolitical’ and ‘non-partisan’ without citing examples anywhere in the world where art is “apolitical” or “non-partisan.”
Their view is grossly mistaken.
It is akin to the view of ‘art for art’s sake’ which also does not explain what ‘the sake of art’ is. The idea of culture as apolitical or ‘art for art’s sake’ has been correctly characterised by Plekhanov as being as strange in our times as the idea of ‘science for science’s sake’ or ‘wealth for wealth’s sake’ whose proper name is ‘corruption’.
As Plekhanov says, all human activities must serve mankind if they are not to remain useless and idle occupations.
Wealth exists in order that man may benefit by it.
Science exists in order to be man’s guide.
Art, too, must serve some useful purpose and not fruitless pleasure.
The value of the arts, especially the most serious of them, is determined by the sum of knowledge they disseminate in society.
Art spreads among the people an enormous amount of knowledge and familiarises them with the concepts worked out by science and at the same time pronouncing judgment on activities in life, including corruption.
This is where art comes into conflict with statesmen and politicians.
Not whether the arts are political or non-political.
The political nature of the arts is indisputable.
Okot p’Bitek is quite clear about this when he says the soul of a nation is to be found in the temple of its literature and the arts.
With regard to the achievements of, for instance, a statesman and those of a man of letters, it is the works of the latter which are remembered and preserved for generations.
A study of history shows most clearly that between statesmen and men of letters, it is the latter, once more, who have always won unquestioning recognition for generations.
As is often said, there is no exact measure of the greatness of a statesman.
But a man of arts, be he a poet, dramatist, composer, painter or sculptor, is judged in the main by definite and specific achievements; achievements over ignorance and prejudice, and in the fields of joy and enlightenment which he brings to the consciousness of generations.
Examples are the artistes who conceived, planned and built the magnificent architectural monuments of Great Zimbabwe whose genius in engineering, aesthetics and beauty is unsurpassed anywhere in the world.
Without them there would be no Zimbabwean civilisation or history to talk about as really worth the pride of Africans.
The name of Zimbabwe for our nation is derived from Great Zimbabwe as a work of art and architectural genius.
The status of Africa as ‘the cradle of world civilisations’ is measured by the genius that has gone into the building of the pyramids and Great Zimbabwe as unsurpassable works of art anywhere in the world.
The National Anthem of Zimbabwe is a work of art rather than that of statesmanship.
Which army in Africa or the world has ever marched without a song or rhythm of the drums as works of art and compositions of artistes?
Whoever worshipped or prayed in Church or wilderness without song, rhythm or dance?
Which nation or state in Africa or the world has ever received visitors or Heads of States at airports without song and dance?
Only those statesmen and nations who apply double standards in the dispensation of justice to their people fear the lashing tongue of the artistes and bullet words from their pens.

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