The IHRAF Festival that is fast growing into a world movement as we leap forward into 2023 was founded and is curated by Thomas Block (Tom Block) in New York, United States of America. The movement/festival has published mind-blowing books and folios of hybrid narratives on genital mutilation, wars, dictatorships, poverty, hunger and deficiency of democracy, resistance stories and underground poetry, heart- shattering essays on conflicts/political discord in USA (Black Lives Matter), Ukraine, Syria, Asia and the Persian Gulf Bamako, Kenya, the Americas Darfur, Zimbabwe, Congo, Moza, Nigeria and soul -torturing Xenophobic episodes of South Africa since its inception
IHRAF Movement has embarked on a massive – unrepentant and uncouthed drive on preserving human rights, human freedoms, freedom of expression and the right to human rights through various artistic interventions and persuasions that include Stand Up Theatre, Spoken Word, Dance, Stage music and films – this is usually as live art staging, hybrid/virtual performances symposia, live festival exhibition and more
The IHRAF is grounded on defending /protecting /supporting the lives of artists, activists, writers and human rights defenders in exile and in their countries is incredible
Skillful/ artistic/scholarly /creative young and middle-aged citizens of the world, from Africa, India, Asia into Europe have been archived unto the mesmerizing literary magazine IHRAF PUBLSHES as IHRAF continues to write many have found place in nooks and brooks of IHRAF Books that now read globally. Young fellows and international fellows are drawn from across different countries especially from countries torn by war, ravaged by poverty, shriveled by dictatorial regimes, attacked by internal conflicts and prone to injustice- the IHRAF Team remains determined in the fight against injustices and abuse of human rights through creative activism
One land marking- highlight is that of IHRAF getting positive -dominance and as being fully represented in three powerful countries of Africa Eastern (Kenya) by Grace Suge, Southern (Zimbabwe) by Mbizo Chirasha, Western by Wole Odenyin (Nigeria). These prolific and iconic writers, poets, essayists and human rights defenders make up the IHRAF African Secretariat and Africa has become part of the important daily, monthly and yearly programming routines of the IHRAF Movement
To sum up my update, I will insert underneath here a summarized 2022 Report of Success as presented by the IHRAF Founder/ Executive Director Thomas Block (Tom Block)
Another year of growth, outreach and support for international voices!
- Published 70+ pieces on IHRAF Publishes and IHRAF Translates
- Published 100+ more writers in four books, including an anthology of our best writing over the first three years, and Voices from Ukraine, Voices of Africa and beyond!
- Opened two more African Secretariats, in Zimbabwe and Kenya, joining our office in Nigeria
- Supported fellows in Kenya, Nigeria, Tunisia and Indiana (USA)
- Published 50+ interviews with African creators
- Published youth voices from around the world in online three literary anthologies
- Expanded our reach to present work from 97 countries
- Gave out twelve monetary awards and 30+ honourable mentions, from 500+ submissions around the world for the Art of Unity Creative Award and Creators of Justice Literary Award
- Received two grants from the NY State Council in the Arts
- Invited to present our work at the US State Department, with Partners Global international NGO, and with partners from Brussels, Paris and Zimbabwe to Queens, Manhattan and around NY
- Expanded our individual and corporate donor base to 100+ supporters
And in 2023, we will become one of only 25% of literary magazines in the United States to pay our published writers, bringing our advocacy publishing arm into a new realm of professionalism!
Short Resume of Tom Bock, the Founder and Executive Director of the IHRAF Movement
Tom is a playwright, author of six books, and 25+ year exhibiting visual artist. He has shown his artwork and spoken about his ideas throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Turkey, and the Middle East. Tom founded the International Human Rights Art Festival at Dixon Place (NYC) in March 2017. tomblock.com
This article is written /curated by Mbizo Chirasha (AfricanWilliamBlake), 2019 IHRAF International Fellow ,2020-21 IHRAF Direct Award Recipient, 2022Pan WritivismLaureate/Editor of Voices of Africa: A Call for Freedom, a Pan African Ihraf based poetry anthology,2023 IHRAF Director of Zimbabwe (African Secretariat), the Founder of the Writing Ukraine Prize and the UNESCO-RILA Affiliate Artist at the University of Glasgow, School of Education.