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Africa Directions Theatre schools unionists in collective bargaining

AFRICA Directions Theatre on stage at the Judiciary and Allied Workers Union of Zambia second quadrennial congress at Zambezi Source Lodge in Kabwe. PICTURE: CHAMBO NG’UNI

WHO said culture and trade unionism cannot cross paths? Well, this seeming impossible union happened last Saturday when Africa Directions Theatre went beyond song and dance, but also gave a ‘lecture’ at the Judiciary and Allied Workers Union of Zambia (JAWUZ) second quadrennial congress.
The morning started on a quiet note as delegates to the JAWUZ conference reflected on union matters at Kabwe’s Zambezi Source Lodge, but only to loosen up later, thanks to Africa Directions Theatre who created the mood for unwinding.
As the JAWUZ members were meeting in Kabwe to elect new national leaders, the Lusaka-based cultural group was on hand, waiting for the right moment to break the ice.
When the moment for delegates to chill out came, it was the dramatists who first trooped into the conference hall, and then came three women songsters, who were soon to be joined by the Kawale dancers.
The trade unionists, among them Zambia Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) secretary general Cosmas Mukuka, could not resist the thrill of the Kawale song as the traditional classic resonated through the walls of the conference hall.
As the cultural group passionately sang and blasted the drums, one of the dancers, Majuta Phiri, with his alluring dance, pulled some unionists to the dance floor to join in the Kawale dance.
After putting up a theatrical dance, Africa Directions Theatre returned to the stage with a sketch themed around ‘strange’ happenings during negotiations for salaries and better conditions of service between employers and union officials.
The sketch somewhat sent a strong message to unionists that they were elected to represent the interests of the workers and not selfish interests.
“Power to the people, power to the people,” some of the delegates were heard shouting as Africa Directions Theatre put up that lecture through drama.
An overjoyed ZCTU secretary general commended Africa Directions Theatre on their call to union leaders to give the workers effective representation.

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