IYASA is Zimbabwe's multi award winning performing arts school for youths established in 2001 to support and promote the best interests of young musicians, dancers, actors and poets. It has since expanded to be a resource Centre for most established and upcoming artistes, especially actors, poets, musicians, singers and dancers. IYASA is based in the city of Bulawayo in Zimbabwe.

IYASA has a talented and committed team of skilled and highly trained artistes in music, dance, drama and poetry, film and other genres. Through comprehensive workshops, projects, training programmes and performances in and outside Zimbabwe IYASA plays an integral role in the development and promotion of talent in music, dance, film, poetry and theatre.

IYASA has become a household name in Zimbabwe and also established themselves into an internationally recognized organization and ambassadors of African performing arts through projects and performances locally, regionally and internationally. These include U.S.A, Austria, Germany, Serbia, Czech Republic, South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland, Zambia, Malawi, Slovakia, and U.K, Japan, Mexico, Montenegro, Italy, Lichtenstein and Croatia among others.

IYASA is an abbreviation for INKULULEKO YABATSHA SCHOOL OF ARTS which translates to FREEDOM FOR YOUNG PEOPLE SCHOOL OF ARTS. Their motto is 'there goes the morning star' a pun on the name IYASA which in Ndebele also means sunrise and the fact that their ideal is to bring light and opportunity to young and youthful artistes just like the morning star that heralds day after night.
Iyasa is committed to also improving and promoting theatre for young people and by young people. Through their workshop programme Isiphiwo Sami talent Search they train scholars and teachers in secondary and high schools in various theatre and other art genres. The programme is in partnership with the CULTURE FUND OF ZIMBABWE.

In order to sustain the school and its members Iyasa performs theatre productions, music and dance productions, poetry, public shows, at leisure places, at weddings, collaborations, promotions, advertisements, road shows, co-operate functions, festivals, commissioned and thematised work, social campaigns and also records music and films.

The main aims and objectives of IYASA are

  1. To provide a platform for upcoming artistes to establish themselves in the arts market/industry
  2. To employ youths gainfully through the arts.
  3. To train artistes and thereby produce complete, disciplined and skilled artistes.
  4. To come up with programmes that develop arts within schools,communities locally ,regionally and internationally.
  5. Organise exchange programmes,training programmes,collarborations with individual,groups,theatres, organisations across the world for the benefit artistes involved.
  6. Create productions that address issues that affect artistes,affect the youth and thrive to address them.
  7. Encourage and foster arts for young people and by young people.

These are the main aims among others.

The Birth Of IYASA

In 2001 the founder Nkululeko Innocent Dube resigned from his job as an English and Ndebele teacher at Mpopoma High School and Northlea High schools respectively and decided to go full time into the arts. This is when he decided to form IYASA, a professional platform for young people involved in the arts.


Nkululeko Innocent Dube is the director and founder of Iyasa. He started the arts at a tender schooling age. He briefly joined the teaching profession where he founded what was to be a very popular drama club, The Mpopoma High School Drama club which then fledged into IYASA (Inkululeko Yabatsha School Of Arts).

Innocent Dube holds a diploma in Education, a BA degree in English and Communication Studies and a Diploma in Arts management. He has also worked with and is inspired by renowned artists and directors worldwide who include Mbongeni Ngema, Albert Nyathi, Raisedon Baya,Sihlangu Dlodlo, Cont Mhlanga, Oliver Mtukudzi,Stephan Rabl, Christian Kellner ,Winston Ruddle and Zola among others.

After the formation of Iyasa in 2001 Innocent dube met Mr Stephan Rabl who currently is the director of Dschungel Wien in Austria. Stephan invited the group to Schaexpir Festival in Linz, Austria. They worked with his company Szene Bunte Wahne in which was to be the beginning of yearly tours for the group to Austria and Czech Republic up to date. Iyasa held shows at festivals, schools and other venues including workshops for young people.

They produced shows that include Sounds Of Africa, Welcome to Africa and have since then also come up with co-productions with Austrian companies that include the one with Dschungel Wien entitled Afrikanische Marchen that has been running for over 3 years now. The current one is entitled Schlaf Gut Susser Mond.In 2006 Iyasa met Mr Christian Kellner and produced a production about child soldiers entitled China K. Innocent Dube wrote the music for the production and also did the dance choreography and assisted with its direction. Iyasa has worked with Theatro Piccolo since then coming up with cultural exchange programmes for young people between Zimbabwe and Austria and produced various productions that include, No Chickens In The Bus, China K, Umntwana Afrika, Girafika and Elefanten Mond.

The Criteria used to select performers

Membership is for free and open to all young people with a passion, ambition and talent they wish to explore in the arts. Talent is not a prime priority but instead IYASA insists more on discipline as the key to anyone being a part of the organisation. No auditions are required, membership is open. When young people join Iyasa they are taken as trainees and if they excel they are considered for full time membership.

Iyasa is not a 'NAMES' based group. Members are free to join other groups after training and can also be recommended to other contracts and organisations that require their expertise. Membership remains open and in the model of a school Iyasa thrives not to be identified through particular names and artistes in their productions. While some of the members may excel and be identified as faces of the group Iyasa encourages free movement of talent in and out of the group.

Strengths of IYASA

Besides the strong junior policy, IYASA's biggest strength is that they work as a family unit. They believe in the link between performance and day to day life. IYASA members take time to visit any member's home and parents. Through this kind of link IYASA has managed to get the trust from both the performers and their parents.

Another strength is that IYASA has built a steady market both overseas and locally in Zimbabwe. This way IYASA does not only depend on tours but they can supplement this through local performances.

Awards to date

To date Iyasa has scored the following accolades

  1. 3 times winners of NAMA AWARD best dance group. (ZIMBABWE)

  2. 1 time winners of NAMA AWARD video of the year. (ZIMBABWE)

  3. 1 time winners of the NAMA AWARD people's choice dance group. (ZIMBABWE)

  4. 1 time winners of the ZIMA AWARD best dance group. (ZIMBABWE)

  5. 1 time winners of the ZIMA AWARD video of the year. (ZIMBABWE)

  6. 1 time winners of the NESCAFE Youth project of the year. (ZIMBABWE)

  7. 1 time producers of both NAMA best female and male dancers of the year. (ZIMBABWE)

  8. 1 time winners of the international ambassadors award (Czech Republic).

  9. 1 time winners of the TBA best production award. (SERBIA)

  10. 1 time winners of the audience's best performer's award. (SERBIA)

Director's Individual Awards

  1. Junior Chamber's award for 10 outstanding Zimbabweans 2011 (Cultural category)

  2. Megafest business personality of the year 2011

  3. NAMA's 2012 Arts personality of the year