Harare Book Club resists Mugabe strong-arming

Dear Friends,

Harare’s community home for artists and audiences, Book Café, has been threatened for years. It represents the power of culture and people. For 30 years it has celebrated the creativity of mind and art, and has become a national beacon of dignity, joy and freedom in Zimbabwe; the antithesis of an insidious militarised repression and looting of national resources.

In 2008, the government stole Book Café’s funds. The purpose was to punish Book Café and artists, destroy it, just one of a litany of threats and intimidation over many years. These artists' funds were used (with other ransacked accounts), to bankroll a blood-stained election that killed hundreds, displaced thousands and traumatised millions. Read the Prime Minister’s statement here.

Last December we were evicted from our 15-year premises to a national public outcry, the latest attempt to stop Book Café. We are not giving up. Within 10 weeks we moved location, re-opened and we are re-building, fast. It has taken every possible resource we have to do this. Our Artists Benefit Concert raised $5000 (almost every major musician in Zimbabwe performed free). Now we have reverted to “crowd funding”, small amounts from well-wishers and friends worldwide.  We have started a campaign on IndieGoGo asking friends to spread this appeal. Together we can do this.

Please help us grow this campaign, send to your network and friends and send a message: people determined to reclaim their dignity through art and free expression cannot be stopped.

Simple facts: a total of 1,200 artists work from Book Café. A great number, 350 of them, based their livelihood there. Altogether 950 events and concerts have been organised annually. Audience attendance for 2011 stands at a considerable 54,000.  Almost every major music and spoken word artist to emerge in the last 10-15 years started at Book Café. If you want to find out more search “Book Café Harare”, “Book Café Zimbabwe” or “Pamberi Trust”. You will find everything.

To donate please click here.

See also the Facebook page here.

Thank you,
Paul Brickhill