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Stand up comedy: The best medicine for Zim

Zimbabweans have gone through turbulent times for decades characterized by human rights abuses, a poor performing economy and a decline in the quality of life.

Somehow, we seem to find ways and means of coping.

One way that has helped soften the hard blows life has thrown at us, is the ability to afford a laugh and a smile even during the most painful time we have faced as a country.

Surviving these hard times, Zimbabweans have found comfort on the internet especially social media platforms where they readily turn any serious issue into comic relief at the click of a button.

Stand Up Comedy has grown in leaps and bounds in the country, partly aided by social media where any material posted goes viral within a few hours.

However, it has not all been rosy for content creators who have also been subjected to scrutiny and censorship by the government, especially during former president Robert Mugabe`s era.

The country`s censors clamped down on any art production seen as critical of the government.

However, the new dispensation has seen stand-up comedians taking pot shots at the status quo.

In an interview with CITE, Bulawayo based comedian Ntandoyenkosi Moyo said a number of comedians are now at ease in making jokes about the country’s political situation.

“There is a general feeling of freedom among comedians in the new dispensation to make skits and jokes targeted at the government or officials,” said Moyo.

He said packaging is important when it comes to stand up comedy.

“Personally even in the previous regime I would make jests about the government it’s all about how you package it,” the ribcracker said.

“One should take note that even though there is no physical retribution, comedians walk a thin line by doing politically charged content.”

He also said comedians tend to avoid making political jokes as they may become unpopular and lose gigs.

“Most comedians who make political jokes tend to be less successful and get fewer opportunities than those who steer clear from political issues,” said Moyo.

Madlela Skhobokhobo comedian cum musician said he is able to freely express himself without fear of being persecuted for it.

This is his latest skit on the former president Robert Mugabe.

“Freedom of expression is enshrined in the constitution and as a storyteller I don’t control what comes to me but whatever comes I take it out responsibly,” said Skhobokhobo.

He stressed that artists should be able to talk about issues affecting citizens in their own way.

“I have always been very free to express my art maybe because I spent most of my time in South Africa a country that allows freedom of expression and creativity, as artists we mirror our society hence very important to talk about social issues in our own way,” said Skhobokhobo.

Mandlenkosi Mathe known by stage name Mandla Da Comedian said the jokes he does targeting the government are harmless.

“I have never been scared of making jokes about our Presidents or our government mainly because my humour doesn’t have any element that might lead to defamation of character compared to some of my fellow comics,” said the comedian.

In comedy, Zimbabweans might have found the right antidote to pacify a restive nation.

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