Award-winning and arguably the country’s leading stand-up comedian, Carl Joshua Ncube says his trade has invited outright death threats from businesspeople and clergymen around the country.
By Kennedy Nyavaya
In an interview with The Standard Style, Ncube, who recently performed in the Ivory Coast and is geared for a tour of Asia soon, said even the government does everything to thwart satire.
“My comedy receives death threats more from religious leaders and businessmen than I get from the State, so it is important for people to be able to take the joke because our people are stressed and need something to relax them,” he said.
However, the comedian said State agents could not be vindicated.
His assertions followed a nasty fall-out between the comedian and controversial businessman Wicknell Chivhayo, for whom he has even organised “roasting” sessions in the past, as well as the multiple jibes at some of the most famous local prophets for their “contentious” miracles.
“Jokes are never made because the comedian hates the subject, but the joke is merely celebrating their popularity. People need to stop being ignorant about comedy,” he said.
Responding to the arrest of theatre producer and actor Silvanos Mudzvova who got apprehended by police while staging a one-man theatrical piece in Harare last Wednesday, Ncube said performers should always remember that politically influenced artwork may invite sour repercussions.
“It isn’t my place to say what is right or wrong about the protest, bearing in mind we know that political comedy is a taboo in Zimbabwe, hence artists are aware of the risks involved,” he said.
“In Zimbabwe demonstrations are not the same as in the West, the consequences are much worse and my heart aches for the day we will be able to use art as protest; one day, because iron sharpens iron.”
Reports from last year quoted the comedian saying that he had been forced to stop jokes on religious and political leaders owing to fear but some of his current public statements are inconspicuously concealed to evade danger.
Meanwhile, this seems a big year for him as he is billed to perform at Umahlekisa during the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo before being on the cast of My Child and Teenage Mutant Azanians, a cartoon that was launched on Comedy Central.
Ncube said that this year will end with a tour of Asian countries that include Malaysia, Singapore, Dubai and Myanmar, among others, with dates soon to be announced.
“The tour I am doing at the end of this year is great because being booked by comedy clubs in Asia is a huge endorsement of comedy in Zimbabwe,” he said.