The artist who is currently based in Spain was the second runner up behind Sudan’s Ali Mahdi Nouri who founded a theater company that stages mobile performances to bring their message of peace and reconciliation in the North African country.
A theatre group from the Democratic Republic of Congo was the first runner up. The prizes were presented in Cairo, Egypt and the organisers said the winners will share US$125 000.
Maseko who was arrested in March after mounting a solo exhibition of the massacres said the prize was a morale booster and will motivate him to tackle the highly emotional and sensitive issue.
“I have given the sensitive and raw issue of the Gukurahundi massacres a face and a voice and I am prepared to take a bullet for it,” Maseko was quoted in a statement by the organisers of the Freedom to Create Prize awards.
“The support and recognition of winning the Freedom to Create Prize will allow me continued freedom to create and to express the ideas, hopes, dreams and aspirations of my countrymen, laying the foundations for a reconciled, vibrant and flourishing Zimbabwe.”
Two months ago Maseko,s works were officially banned by the government saying they would cause disharmony among the country’s tribes different ethnic groups.His case has since been moved to the Supreme Court after he challenged the constitutionality of the charges that were laid against him.
Maseko was charged under a section of the now infamous Criminal Law Codification Act for undermining the authority of President Robert Mugabe and for insulting the Shona ethnic group of which the President belongs.
In 1983, Mugabe as Prime Minister of the newly independent Zimbabwe allegedly sanctioned the slaughter of thousands of predominantly Ndebele speaking supporters of his political rival, Joshua Nkomo.Human rights groups put the figure of those who perished at the hands of the North Korean trained army unit at 20 000.The operations of the Five Brigade disrupted life in rural Matabeleland and forced thousands to flee across the border into Botswana.
-additional reporting by Radio Vop