NEWS
The rise of Zimbabwean satire: how comedy is challenging power

Comedian Samm Farai Monro, aka Comrade Fatso, looks at how Zimbabwe has turned to comedy to push boundaries and break taboos

16 Jun 2015
BY MAX GOLDBART
Cast members of Zambezi News, pictured left to right - Michael Kudakwashe, Samm Farai Monro, Chipo Chikara and Tongai Makawa

Cast members of Zambezi News, pictured left to right – Michael Kudakwashe, Samm Farai Monro, Chipo Chikara and Tongai Makawa

“The fact that there is a thriving satire in Zimbabwe and that we, as the cheeky cast of Zambezi News are still alive, confuses a lot of people,” writes Harare-based comedian Samm Farai Monro, aka Comrade Fatso, in the latest issue of Index on Censorship magazine. His feature, Comedy of Terrors, explores the country’s growing comedy scene and looks at how humour is being used to challenge power.

Monro is the co-founder of Zambezi News, a web series that has been running since 2011, bringing with it a fresh, bolshy and satirical take on the Zimbabwean political system. The show has reached millions of viewers across the country and beyond.

“However,” Monro adds, “being a leading satire show and poking fun at the powerful comes with risks: one of our main actors in Zambezi News has been threatened by people we suspect are security agents.”

Monro writes of the need for Zimbabwean comedians to keep pushing boundaries in the summer 2015 edition of Index on Censorship magazine. He also looks at the emergence of other satirical shows, including Comic King Show and PO Box, and the comedy clubs in Harare that regularly attract capacity crowds. Subscribe here to read the full story and watch some clips of Zambezi News below.

Index on Censorship is hosting its own comedy event at the Union Chapel, Islington, to raise awareness of the importance of satire for free expression worldwide. Stand Up For Satire will be hosted by the Al Murray the Pub Landlord on 30 July, with comedians Frankie Boyle, Shappi Khorsandi, Grainne Maguire, Doc Brown and more. Tickets are £20 for general admission and £15 for concessions; availability is limited.

“After record breaking inflation in 2008, we dumped our currency and stole our neighbour’s notes instead.”

“Do you find foreign governments in your underwear… Well you need sovereignty.”

“The Minister of Transport today came up with an innovative solution to deal with the traffic chaos bedeviling Harare; they’re going to introduce driving licenses.”

This article was posted on 16 June 2015 at indexoncensorship.org

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