A Zimbabwean peacemaker combines art and activisim
Lancelot Muteyo is a passionate peacemaker who weaves together vision with action and a poetic èlan. His passions cover many topics but come together in his growing leadership for peace.
Muteyo earned a degree in Sociology in 2005 from the University of Zimbabwe, but due to the high unemployment rate in Zimbabwe he could not find a job. So he got active in his
first love—art. As a talented poet and cultural activist he founded the Christian Arts Festival. His activism with the arts had a cutting edge. He mobilized the artists to fight against HIV and AIDS. Because conventional medication treatments were often inaccessible to ordinary Zimbabweans, the artists promoted various home-based care programs and traditional treatments for patients. Over 3,000 young people were involved, and the Zimbabwe National AIDS Council gave the Christian Arts Festival an award for their work. Many young people were empowered to take responsibility for their lives, and some of the artists found new careers in their field.
Then Lance graduated from a counseling program in family therapy, but again there was no job in the field. So once again he became innovative and creative. He began doing workshops for home-based counseling related to HIV and AIDS. In 2008 alone he conducted 87 workshops training 2 600 people from all walks of lives. He worked mainly with churches, community centers, and youth groups. These trainings were an important tool at the time in that it empowered the communities to deal positively with their sick relatives without stigma and discrimination.
Lance did many programs and campaigns on drug abuse, youth empowerment and gender issues, which led him into another passion, environmentalism. In 2008 Zimbabwe suffered from a serious cholera outbreak caused by the cities’ failure to collect refuse. Through his church, Emmanuel Baptist Church in Harare, Lance organized massive cleanup campaigns of the city. He mobilized the erection of water wells for people to have clean drinking water which is safe and free. Due to poverty, many people were resorting to cutting down trees for selling firewood because the city was without electricity due to service failure. He started environmental educational campaigns setting environmental clubs in schools and churches. He also developed trainings for the urban illegal farmers. Eventually this became Trees of Peace Africa, a movement of planting trees, especially in urban areas.
Conflict Transformation & Peace Training
In 2009 Lance attended the Global Baptist Peace Conference in Rome, Italy as a young adult participant. There he met Dan Buttry and began a partnership that blossomed when Buttry travelled to Zimbabwe the next year. They were part of a team that traversed the country conducting conflict transformation workshops. In 2013 Lance participated in Buttry’s 10-day Training of Conflict Transformation Trainers (TCTT) in Kenya, launching his international peacemaking efforts. He co-facilitated in trainings in Zambia with Buttry, then together they led a 10-day TCTT in Nigeria. He also led trainings in Malawi, South Africa, Kenya, and Uganda. He and Boaz Keibarak led a 3-day training for chiefs and other traditional leaders in a volatile region of southern Zimbabwe.
During the Kenya TCTT Lance and other participants from 8 African countries, including Wilson Gathungu and Boaz Keibarak, founded the Pan African Peace Network. Lance was selected as coordinator. In addition to conducting peace-building workshops on his own or with Dan Buttry he has also worked alongside other PAPNET activists in peace trainings. He has encouraged African financing of significant portions of the projects as well as reached out for international funding.
Aside from all this community organizing and training, Lance is a poet. He speaks passionately and proudly as an African with a prophetic edge calling Africans to take full responsibility in shaping their destiny. He often accompanies his poetry recitation with the mbira, a traditional instrument sometimes called a thumb piano. With a wife and a young son, Lance Muteyo has become a bright beacon of hope not just in Zimbabwe but in many countries of Africa. With contacts in Italy and a planned training in Ukraine his work is now reaching even further.