Tinashe Zisengwe

Gweru based ex inmates of Connemara Open Prison have proved that there is light at the end of every dark tunnel as they are now popular of their arts and culture group titled Strong Rural Background (SRB).

Speaking to the group leader who is an ex-convict of stock theft, Carlison Makonese said that SRB is a group of seven which he formed out of inspiration he drew from the culture of ubuntuism and traditionalism which he was taught in prison.

“SRB is all about music and traditional dance. We started practicing during the time when we were still in prison and when we were released I formed this group which has gained popularity now.

“What landed me in prison is that my uncle owned a butchery and he purchased two stolen cattle, I was found guilty as I helped in selling the meat,” said Makonese.

Makonese also added that he saved three years in prison from 2007 to 2010. Some of his ex-inmates within the group are Gilbert Zhou, Simon Dube and Albert Zhou.

The group leader also said that their traditional dance group is invited at several occasions at Antelope Park and Village lodge to entertain guests.

Speaking to the rehabilitation officer of Connemara Open Prison, Innocent Magwere he said that he trains these prisoners several activities such as singing, woodwork and metal work.

“As a rehabilitation officer I have realized that it is a good thing for prisoners to be trained on various activities as they can pursue their talents after their release.

“I am proud of SRB since I trained them during the time they were prisoners,” he said.