Zambia has not been spared by the coronavirus pandemic, which is currently ravaging the world. The country has however not been affected so much, as we so far have had only thirty-nine cases recorded, with one death. It is worth noting that our health care system is quite limited and the detection of the virus may not be as accurate. There is very little testing going on to have more accurate information on the spread. As a control measure, all the churches, schools, colleges and universities have been shut with some travel limitations – though not a large scale lockdown. Only essential workers are allowed to work.
The Zambian situation has been made worse by the fact that two months ago, the country witnessed an unprecedented phenomenon never seen before in the history of the country, where there were some mysterious poisonings and gassing of people’s homes and some public places by some unknown people. This resulted in riots which led to the death of fifty-three people through ‘mob injustice’ This almost brought the country to a virtual standstill, as the normal lives of people were uprooted or disrupted. Shortly after the gassing episode, came the dreaded coronavirus which has continued to send shock waves globally.
Most of the children’s theatre arts activities in Zambia are scheduled in the first half of each year – between January and July. The COVID-19 crisis has therefore impacted negatively, as these festivals and the related activities stand cancelled or postponed by a number of arts associations that work with schools, colleges, childcare centres and other stakeholders. The ASSITEJ Zambia organised Jacaranda Theatre Arts Festival which was scheduled for March 11 – 14, has been put off until the situation normalises.
The effects of the pandemic may be far-reaching to the children and young people. In education, the country does not have the adequate capacity for online learning while children’s theatre may suffer more as we see a worrying trend of fear being induced in the masses, who may not want the children to be in crowded places. The time and space for rehearsals is not there now – thereby affecting the intellectual and creative minds of those involved in TYA. We are determined to double our efforts to bring back the normal self after COVID-19.