Olley Tsino Maruma was one of Zimbabwe’s pioneer filmmakers. He also worked as a journalist, broadcaster, lawyer and socio-political commentator. He died in 2010. At the time of his death he was on the board of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings.
Olley was born in 1953 in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second capital city, and lived in the UK for eight years (1972 – 1980). While in England, he attended the University of Kent in Canterbury where he graduated with a BA Honours in Law, attained Television Production Training at the British Council’s Media Department in London and was an intern at the BBC’s Current Affairs Television Programme, Out of Court.
Maruma spent the war days in Britain attaining an education and came back home during the transitory period of the Lancaster House talks. He was fiercely nationalist and patriotic in approach and considered himself an avowed panAfricanist, penning articles in the state-sponsored press in support of the Zanu PF government and its leadership. In Maruma, we see a combination of the most strident support for and obsequious belief in the ruling party and what it sought to project as the force best suited to move the country forward. This was apparent in the preponderance of nationalist rhetoric in Maruma’s various roles as a filmmaker, reporter, farmer, and historian.
He attended Goromonzi High School until the time he was kicked out of school for taking part in the 1971 student demonstrations that rocked the country. He left Africa for Britain where he did his “A” Levels and proceeded to read law at the University of Kent at Canterbury.
More than a filmmaker, he also worked as a journalist, broadcaster, lawyer and socio-political commentator. He became an author as well after launching his novel Coming Home (2007) and was due to publish another. Coming Home is a tale of a young, black Zimbabwean lawyer who returns after some time in the United Kingdom.
Apart from his professional contributions to the arts and media sector, Olley was known for his outspoken demeanor usually at public forums. Among a few Zimbabweans to own a production company, Moonlight Films, he was responsible for the film The Big Time, which was completed in 2003. The Big Time was a romantic, lighthearted film about an obscure young woman who is plunged into fame (the writer was a publicist on this film).
Olley is also known for his groundbreaking film Consequences, produced in the early 80s. The film remains one of his best-known works internationally. He is credited with the early growth and development of Zimbabwe’s film industry alongside colleagues such as Stephen Chigorimbo, who worked as line-producer on The Big Time.
In 1983, he went to France and trained in film production at France’s Sertis Vacari Films and Societe Francaise de Production in Paris. Back in Zimbabwe he worked as a television producer/director and newsreader for the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation. He also lectured on Television Production at the Harare Polytechnic’s Institute of Mass Communications for more than five years. In 1986 he was designated chairman of the Zimbabwe Film and Video Association.
- The Assegai (1982)
- Quest for Freedom (1981)
- After the Hunger and Drought (1988)
- Consequences (1988)
Olley Maruma, one of Zimbabwe’s pioneer filmmakers, died in Harare on Thursday 7 January 2010. He was 57.