What if we could Experience the life of Mbuya Nehanda in Virtual Reality?!
Charmaine Chitate | Courtney Chitate
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What if we could Experience the life of Mbuya Nehanda in Virtual Reality?!

Charmaine Chitate is a Zimbabwean Multimedia Content Creator who wants to bring these heroine experiences to life.  Her upcoming project with Blazer and High On Talent is titled I Am A Woman Defined/ Stories About Her; a virtual window into the lives of the women of old.

“The history of our country is highly patriarchal. It does not give due credit to the role women played both before and after Independence. We can count on both hands, the number of women who have made it into our history books. We do not have enough fingers or toes to count the number of documented men” explained Charmaine. 

I Am A Woman Defined/Stories About Her is shortlisted by Digital Lab Africa in the Virtual Reality category as one of the top 6 projects. The 13-part series will share the story of two great women who contributed to Zimbabwe’s history linked by an ancestral spirit, using a 360-video tour and binaural sound.

“We hear of Mbuya Nehanda and what she did as a spirit medium but we have no clue about her nature, where she lived, what she experienced,” shared Charmaine.

Incidentally, the trials and beheading of Nehanda and Kaguvi in April 1897 are the only aspects of Zimbabwean history recognised in the UNESCO Memory of the World Project. Charmaine, who lives near the location where Nehanda was supposedly hung wants to remind Zimbabweans that women can be looked to for solutions.

“Then men who led us looked to women for solutions, why is it so difficult now? Why is it difficult to honour women in a non-quota related manner,” challenged Charmaine.

Charmaine admits there is a lot that is left unknown for this massive research-based project;

“I have had to learn so much, I never took history so this has been such a learning process… there is a lot that is unclear too, names and stories.. there are debates on the origin of Nehanda’s spirit for example. There are also arguments about Nyamhika’s name, some say it is Nyamita. I have to forage through the history to find out.”

The power of the project not only lies in celebrating these women. It serves to compare historical female experiences to modern day female struggles.

“We need to ask ourselves what is still relevant, how far have we really come? What has been problematic for decades? Rape, incest, child marriages, it’s all there.”

I Am A Woman Defined/Stories About Her is a 13-part series which will narrate the story of two great women. These women contributed to Zimbabwe’s history linked by an ancestral spirit (Nyamhika and Charwe). Using a 360-video tour and binaural sound; these two will be part of the ten iconic Zimbabwean women in history this project hopes to showcase.

“When we say Nyamita was raped, I want to share the sounds, the pain…the man breathing heavily, I want it to be a raw experience so people understand the realities of issues such as rape,” concluded Charmaine.

I Am A Woman Defined/Stories About Her is shortlisted in the Top 30 by Digital Lab Africa. You can vote for it here

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