By Tidi Kwidini.
London. (News of The South)- UK based Zimbabwean spoken word artist, Munnya Usuwana has added another monumental project to his glowing CV after being commissioned to compose a poem for the upcoming Coal miners’ documentary, Digging Deep, backed by one of the UK’s largest lottery funders, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
Usuwana’s poem will serve as the documentary score that will navigate and bring to light the trials, tribulations and journeys of African-Caribbean miners and some of the hardships they suffered in the 60s and 70s.
The two-year project, based in Nottingham, began last April and will run until April 2019. Produced by celebrated historian and author, Norma Gregory, the project focuses on the shared experiences of former coal miners, of African-Caribbean heritage, and will be shown through a variety of media-based, creative art forms to emphasise various aspects of the miners’ journeys.
The documentary is in collaboration with Communities Inc. Nottingham, the National Coal Mining Museum for England (NCMMfE) in Yorkshire, and is being led by volunteers from across the UK.
“Digging deep has been such a privilege to work on. It has been truly insightful and one filled with so much history. It has opened my eyes to what miners’ of African-Caribbean heritage experienced in the UK, dating back to the 1970s.”
Usuwana said that he drew a lot of inspiration from the detailed and often heart-breaking tails of approximately 40 miners.
“Writing the poem for the documentary was a challenging but incredibly rewarding experience.”
“Understanding and reflecting on what the miners went through helped me appreciate the work they did, as it contributed to the economy and day to day running of households that we still see to this day,” Usuwana said.
Nottingham News Centre CIC received just over ninety thousand pounds from the Heritage Lottery Fund to produce the documentary.
Munnya said that not many people were aware that there were so many African-Caribbean coal miners who were pioneers and contributed immensely to the growth of Britain.
“African-Caribbean miners worked side by side with white British, European and Asian miners, labouring underground to help fuel the UK economy and, sadly, there were some that died in the process.”
“Their part in Britain’s industrial past has never been told and it was wonderful to collaborate with so many talented and passionate people, but more so, to unearth the stories of these heroes,” he added.
Gregory who has interviewed over 40 black miners, is now searching South Wales for more. She plans to create an exhibition that will give the miners’ an opportunity to share their perspective of life and working in coalfields across Britain.
Who is Munnya Usuwana?
With a number of major projects under his belt, Munnya first discovered his passion for poetry in his early teens, performing at church conferences and small parties that gave him the confidence and inspired him to start writing and sharing his poetry with the world.
Since the release of his debut poem Andrew, which was officially released as a video in 2014, he has gone on to produce several singles, including Caroline, Commitment Issues, and his latest, Vicious Rebels.
Munnya has also taken to the big screen, starring in Zim-Nigerian production Love Triangle, which follows the complex love story of protagonist – Razor – played by Usuwana – a very intellectual fraudster who is embroiled in a world of dishonesty and corruption.
The award winning artist has performed at several prestigious events across England, including Havant Literary Festival, Petersfield Write Angle Poetry and Music Cabaret, BBC Radio Leicester and the Zimbabwe Achievers Awards.
Currently working on numerous projects, he is planning to host an evening of poetry and is working on his next single.
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