Tribute to Ben Zulu


MARTIN CHEMHERE writes…Ben Zulu, the devout proponent of African film, died on 15 July in New York, reportedly of cancer.
I knew Ben for some time but it was in the early 2000s that we worked together at the African Script Development Fund (ASDF) in Harare, Zimbabwe. Ben impressed everyone with his high professional standards in the development and production of African film.
A holder of a Marketing and Economics Degree from the US (he returned to Zimbabwe in the early 1980s), Ben was a conceiver of great ideas and never hesitated to spearhead new frontiers.
He was among the first people after independence in 1982 to produce a TV series, the 13-part Solo NaMutsai. He followed this with Babamunini Francis, a 3-part drama series.
In 1989, Ben co-founded the Media For Development Trust with filmmaking visionaries – husband and wife team of John and Louise Riber. The formation of Media For Development Trust was a major turning point in Zimbabwe’s filmmaking history and the trio produced some of Africa’s biggest and distinctive productions, Neria (1993), More Time (1994) and Everyone’s Child (1996).
Ben’s most renowned contribution to African film is perhaps the ASDF, which he founded in 1997 to promote the development of African film. In 1998 ASDF conducted a workshop attended by 12 selected writers from Zimbabwe, Mauritius, Kenya and Namibia.


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