Kudakwashe Maria Chisvo

2023 IVLP Impact Award Project: Human EyesZimbabwe

Kudakwashe Maria Chisvo is a funky jazz vocalist, voice actor, model and guitarist who goes by the pseudonym Vera. She has received a number of awards including the Women Rising Award from the Hub Unconference 2020 and an award from Pop Up Small Grants for creative digital projects. She has seven years of experience actively working as a program coordinator for some of Zimbabwe's most well-known arts development organizations such as Young Voices Network, Pamberi Trust, Jibilika Dance Trust, and Magamba Network.

Currently, Kudakwashe is the arts and events coordinator at Magamba Network. She has been a driving force for the creative economy and has strong beliefs about creating programming that is inclusive and accessible for all while speaking to the needs of young people and their communities. Her legacy at all institutions she has worked in has been to create and curate programming that creates opportunities for young women and marginalized communities. Examples of this include the Women in Arts Celebration at Young Voices Network, Female Literary Arts Music Enterprise at Pamberi Trust, The Training Kombi with Jibilika Dance Trust, Disability Arts and Culture Program with Incubator ZW and lastly The Women’s Cypher at Moto Republik, to name a few. She also curated and managed UNESCO’s pilot Resiliart Accelerator, a program that mentored and followed five women creatives from across Zimbabwe over a period of six months.

Additionally, Kudakwashe runs her own creative hub called the Incubator ZW, which has been supported by the U.S. Embassy, the British Council, Alliance Francaise, and the Zimbabwe German Society, and she is currently on the board of Project iThemba, a youth-driven creative enterprise that hosts creativity for change workshops for the LGBTQ community. Incubator ZW has a podcast called HerHour that has trained six aspiring women journalists and videographers and was one of the first platforms to have an openly trans woman as a cohost.

IVLP Impact Award Project: Human Eyes

This project explored how to change perceptions of marginalized groups in Zimbabwe through using the creative arts. The project began with an online survey, followed by interviews with three subjects to understand their backgrounds and aspirations. Then, photoshoots were organized, and mini documentaries were recorded about each subject.

It featured the stories of a woman, a gay man and a person with disability expressed through music, dance and photography. Through this, they were provided with the opportunity to narrate their story in their own words. A music studio was used to record songs co-written with each subject, which were then translated into a dance routine. The final exhibit was displayed in December 2023 at a festival called the Listening Fest to an audience of 40 people, and the mini documentaries are currently available on YouTube. Not only were marginalized groups given the chance to tell their own stories through this project, but there has also been a visible positive shift in the perception of the highlighted communities amongst the audience members.

Kudakwashe was also a panelist for the IVLP Impact Awards Alumni Discussion Series panel on “Advancing Human Rights for Marginalized Communities” which you can read more about here.

Click here to watch the Human Eyes mini documentaries

"I hope that people can see people for more than their disability, sexual orientation and gender. People need to be seen as who they are at their roots. And that is people who deserve to be loved and respected." - Kudakwashe Maria Chisvo

IVLP Exchange Experience 

Kudakwashe was a participant in the IVLP Project A Global Moment in Time - Reflections on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility, organized by the U.S. Department of State and Meridian International Center.

Kudakwashe's exchange experience led to the development of her IVLP Impact Award Project: "In DC, we had a session on unconscious biases with Dr. Luby Ismail. The session made me realize that sometimes the negative biases and perceptions people have are unconscious and it's important to create opportunities for people to change their biases unconsciously through music and art."

U.S. Communities Visited

San Francisco, CA; Colorado Springs, CO; Washington, DC

Country: Zimbabwe

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