My posts have been so focused on the school construction, healthcare, clean water, and agricultural projects directly implemented by Karimu (www.karimufoundation.org) that I’ve ignored a valuable partner in our last two visits to Tanzania. But it’s time for me to take the blinders off and give to Anne Justine D’Zmura more than the brief mention she received in my August 28 post (https://dstoll49.wordpress.com/2012/08/28/1001/), in which I described our volunteers’ last day in Dareda Kati Village, August 13:
“The farewell ceremony consisted mainly of music and dance, performed joyfully by our younger volunteers and the village schoolchildren, and skillfully orchestrated by Anne Justine D’Zmura, a two-time volunteer who teaches theater at California State University at Long Beach.”
Laying the groundwork for those performances had occupied almost all of Anne’s time in the village since our first full day there, on August 1. No one who heard the music or saw the dancing by our volunteers and the village schoolchildren would have denied that her dozens of hours of work had been well spent; no one familiar with her distinguished record as a theatrical director would have been surprised by the results of her passion for bringing out the best in the volunteers and the schoolchildren.
Besides being Head of Directing at Cal State-Long Beach, Anne has served as resident director at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, where she directed Peer Gynt, Bert’s Folly, Billy and Dago, and Poster of the Cosmos. As artistic associate for the New York City-based The Acting Company, she directed the national tours of Macbeth and The Tempest. She was also assistant director to Trevor Nunn for Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia, on Broadway. A National Endowment for the Arts/TCG Directing Fellowship has enabled her to study Balinese indigenous theater in Indonesia.
The volunteers who worked with Anne and the Tanzanian children in Dareda Kati earned college credits for the Cal State-Long Beach Honors Capstone course that she teaches while in the village. The main goal of the class, Anne writes in her Course Description, is to learn about “community-based art and the means by which to successfully work with a community through the arts on issues about the community.” Questions about the possibility of taking the course to supplement participation in a Karimu visit to Dareda Kati should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We at Karimu appreciate Anne’s work as a reminder that our friends in Dareda Kati are more than poor people desperate for better schools and healthcare, and clean water and bigger harvests. Even though the needs are real enough, neither the young musicians, singers, and dancers at our farewell ceremony, nor their audience, could have been thinking about those needs during their exuberant performances. The performances gave life to a present, and pointed eagerly toward a future, that were not about need, but about excess: about an overflow of talent, energy, and ambition that deserves just as much recognition as do the villagers’ shortages of books and doctors.
At Karimu we take pride in helping to bring books and doctors and other necessities to Dareda Kati. Yet we cannot take credit for bringing them their talent, energy, and ambition, which flourish there independently of our efforts. Anne, however, can take credit for refusing to allow us to overlook the talent, energy, and ambition.