The Midnight Hour

Art & Design | By Chiratidzo Chiweshe, Graphic Designer | 11 January 2014

I am writing this at 12:39 PM at midnight, a moment of great clarity for me, when   I suddenly remember who I am when doubt and fear disappear from my consciousness. Who am I? I have been trying to answer that question for close to ten years now. Ten years as a Zimbabwean female designer. Year after year that same question and others – am I making a difference? What am I doing here? Who is going to care in another ten years what I was selling? Will it be about the numbers; how much money we made? Or about the other numbers - how many lives were transformed or misled by our seductively designed campaign strategies? Who will care? Will I care?

And everyday again, that question – ‘WHO ARE YOU Chiratidzo Chiweshe?’ Who ARE you my inner me demands - screams at me! For a long time I have failed to answer because all I have just been is another cog in the machine, another piece of furniture in the studio - necessary but expendable. And for too long, as a person, as a woman, as a writer, as a designer and as an artist, I have felt that way about myself.

Yes I am necessary - but I am also expendable.

"Rage against the machine." I laugh to myself, I cannot now remember which band it is that gave that title to their album; maybe it's even the name of the band itself. Either way, it’s a smashing title! It so perfectly sums up what being an artist has come to mean to me; I want to rage against the machine. I want to be a raging storm that shocks and throws everything off the kilter. I want to demand everything and give everything; I want to change the world. I know I can do it, as every artist since the beginning of time has always believed. But now I also know I’m going to do it.

Being an artist, incorporates so much of what I truly am - it talks about the labour of bringing forth something that did not exist, of channeling the unknown and somehow translating it into something that everyone can not only understand - but have been desperately trying to understand, say, do and feel. Just like the right amount of seasoning on a steak - yes! That’s it! That's the right flavour! And that's my job.

My job is not to churn out pretty little adverts for money or fill a gap in a creative studio. Not to be necessary - but to be vital. I must be the key that turns the lock; the door to the future and to hope! I must be the channel. Not ‘a’, but ‘the’; Like the heart - that if it weren't for me - everything would stop. But for that I must stop compromising. I must cease to compromise that which I am and believe. I must cease to fear myself and what I am capable of. It's time to stop being a cog.

So if I will not be a cog - what then shall I be? I will become more than what I am - like a legend, larger than life. You may call it arrogance and ego, but now I know for sure what it truly is - it is the true knowledge of oneself. I must seek the path of the true artist, I will become a student and a craftsman, I will be a labourer and I will bring forth fruit. Perhaps while I am at it, I will make a name for myself. But one thing I certainly must have is an answer to 'who are you?' in the midnight hour. And may my answer be better than "I'm just another cog in the great machine."