With unrelenting problems Zimbabweans face daily, there is one luxury that many can still afford-laughter.
To keep sane in Zimbabwe, one needs a good laugh daily and local comedians continue to churn out rib-tickling comic acts that mirrors daily struggles.
They have one thing in common, a captivating wit and ability to blend satire with everyday life.
With straight faces, some even impersonate the President and poke fun at top oligarchs.
“The function of comedy is to make people laugh, be it for five minutes or a day to alleviate whatever situation,” comedian Mukudzeni Kandoro Majoni, popularly known as King Kandoro tells The NewsReport.
Kandoro is one of many local comedians helping Zimbabweans keep sane in face of economic challenges.
Poking fun at government failures in a political satire he calls Properganda, where he unravels half, often laughable truths peddled by daily in public media Kandoro believes comedy should be empowering.
Blending humor, sleek acting skills, and thorough research, Kandoro’s Properganda has breathed new life into Zimbabwean comedy.
“Ladies and gentlemen, war vets and unfocused youths welcome to another episode of properganda with Kandoro,” goes the skit’s opening line.
He tells us that:” None of the things happening in Zimbabwe are new. I am just trying to bring a new perspective to the same old topic.”
Kandoro also uses impersonation to paint the pictures he wants.
Posing as a pot-bellied minister in one episode, threatening to throw journalists in prison Kandoro reveals a deep-seated culture of brazen clampdown on civil liberties like the freedom of expression.
“Comedy in all its facets is putting things together, finding an alternative view, finding an interesting take and relatability to things that sound ridiculous. Comedy doesn’t seek to do anything new. It would be very arrogant to say I’m bringing anything new. Everybody knows what the situation is. The point is to bring a new perspective to what is obvious to everyone,” he says.
As more comedians see political satire as a tool to bring authorities to account, an ordinary skit could land one in trouble.
But Kandoro says a factchecked joke or skit, keeps trouble away.
Asked if he fears arrest for poking fun at powerful oligarchs, Kandoro said: “Not any more than any other regular person. I do not think there is anything outlandish in the show. We are not setting out to offend anyone.”
He says comedy,” comes with a lot of responsibility. “
“I do not want to be in a situation where I get into trouble for saying the wrong things. With Properganda we make effort to make sure that all the things we are going to talk about are factchecked. We are not going to get it right all the time, but we are going to make sure we are responsible enough. The worst thing you want is people getting angry because of the information. You want people to have emotion but let the facts speak. If we are going to be emotional let’s be emotional about the facts.”
Thanks to social media, Zimbabwe has witnessed the growth of political satire as more people seek alternative sources of information.
“With social media it’s very difficult to regulate. We have seen the growth of many opinionated minds,” he says.
In Zimbabwe, Magamba TV founded by Farai Monro, popularly known as Cde Fatso has been leading in producing political satirical skits.
Gazaland is one such series that pokes fun at the police widely regarded as corrupt and incompetent.
Doc Vikela’s impersonation of President Emmerson Mnangagwa has also captured audiences, especially during the Covid-19 induced lockdowns.
Kandoro believes comedy has grown during the pandemic.
“Comedians haven’t stopped working. We have seen the growth of web series. Comedy has grown and has been growing.”
Having dropped out of university to pursue a career in comedy in 2015, Kandoro wants to make it count.
“This is all I wanted to do.”
I would like to create a space for young creatives that nurtures creative minds,” he says.
But until Kandoro realizes his dream, he will keep Zimbabweans laughing with Properganda.