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Anne Derges blooms under the African sunshine
Taurai Maduna,
July 28, 2005

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JacarandaIn September after winter, the city of Harare in Zimbabwe is painted purple by the beautiful bloom of hundreds of jacaranda trees. For some people, it is exam time and for others, it is time to bask in the sun and enjoy the African sunshine.

This is the same African sunshine that welcomed Anne Derges in Nairobi, Kenya in 1975 when she was a VSO Volunteer at Mombasa Polytechnic and Shanzu Teachers College. In 1979 Anne moved on to Maputo where she worked as a librarian at the Ministry of Education and Culture setting up the library systems and training staff. She returned to London in 1981.

It was in 1985 that Anne came to Zimbabwe. She fell in love with the country and decided to settle here. She first worked for the National Archives of Zimbabwe where she was responsible for the administration of the audiovisual collections at the archives.

Today Anne is a senior documentionalist at the Southern African Political and Economic Series (SAPES) Trust in Harare. Anne holds a BA Honours degree in Librarianship from Leeds Polytechnic School of Librarianship in the United Kingdom.

Anne DergesAnne also has extensive experience in editing, writing and copy-editing. She was the editor of the second edition of "The Land Question in Zimbabwe," by Sam Moyo (2001).

Although she has spent most of her time working in documentation, Anne says if she could control her destiny, she would quit her job and become a full time artist.

Anne is one of the many artists in Zimbabwe who feel survival as an artist a mirage. Working as a full time artist has become increasingly tough for artists partly because of Zimbabwe’s economic downturn.

But Anne feels that artists should not lose hope and should look for innovative ways to market their work, including using the Internet. She is one of the featured artists on the African Colours website that helps promote African artists to the rest of the world.

Rain on mountainWhen not in a library Anne is at home painting abstracts. Although she mainly chooses to paint landscapes, she was recently inspired to create around Operation Murambatsvina, an exercise by the Zimbabwe Government which saw thousands of Zimbabweans evicted from their homes.

On asked if she could speak Swahili from having spent some time in Kenya, she said, "every time I try to speak Swahili, I end up speaking Shona". Shona is one of the local languages spoken in Zimbabwe. Anne loves speaking Shona and she says knowing the language has helped her to communicate with the community. Anne jokes that she now knows whenever people are joking about white people, because some black people still think that white people cannot speak the local languages.

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