NAMAs Nominees selection process a shambles!!
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An article by a misdirected, and suspiciously, not very logical "professor" on the recent move of the NAMA awards from Harare to Bulawayo has left a lot of sour taste in the mouths of most pundits of the arts from the southern parts of the country.
And now to add salt to injury, the NAMA nominees have been announced, and not a single musician from Bulawayo and the region has been nominated.
Before people jump on the band wagon here, and accuse this writer of being a tribalist, and what have you; let me point out from the beginning that I know a couple of the nominees in this category, and being a promoter, have worked with some of them, including Enock "Nox" Guni, nominated in a couple of the categories. I respect their art, and I think they probably deserve to be on that list.
I am however, not willing to concede that there was not even a single artist from Bulawayo who could not make it in the music category; which arguably is the most visible of the art forms under consideration. Musicians like Khulekani "Khuxman" Bethule, released tracks like "Vumelan' isangoma"; which has received massive airplay, both inside and outside of Zimbabwe, and I am not sure where one may have been hiding to miss this song. In South Africa, people hear this song, and fight over its origins; with most assuming that it is the production of industry big-hitters like Oskido and others.
Surely a fair nomination process would take things like that into account. Such processes must endeavour to give a semblance of some transparency; and as the awards move to Bulawayo, I am not sure that they should be accepted there in the spirit of the arts.
The continued marginalisation of artist from the southern side of Zimbabwe has never ceased to amaze me, and legends like Lovemore Majaivana could not get anything moving in their career without travelling to Harare. I recall an incident in the brief time in which I was manager to the legendary Beater Mangethe, travelling to Harare to try and get her music played on the airwaves; and we were confronted by the reality of the situation when one official from Gallo Records said to us that "you should come to Harare more often for things to move!"
That I have never forgotten, and as every facet of the lives of people from the southern region of our country continues to be linked to the 400km journey northwards; one hoped against hope, that the arts would not fall prey to this madness. Alas, it seems it was, indeed a hope against hope.
(The doubtful) Professor Fred Zindi, of the University of Zimbabwe, in his weird reasoning seems to see something to celebrate in this senseless anomaly, and says in his article referred to above,that
"The reason is simple. Harare is the centre of economic activity. All decisions, political and economic, are made in Harare. Some musicians realised this long ago and chose to stay close to the centre of activities. This is why, although Don Gumbo was from Bulawayo, Ilanga was based in Harare. Dudu Manhenga is from Bulawayo, but again she is based in Harare.Albert Nyathi, although he keeps his cows in Gwanda and visits them every now and again, is now based in Harare."
Without wanting to disregard or disrespect the other artist from Bulawayo, who were nominated for the other categories, I would like to believe that even they must see something wrong with the music category nominations, and I think that as Nelson Mandela once put it, when he was offered freedom before the ANC was unbanned; "...Your freedom and mine cannot be separated..."; can they please stand together, and demand an explanation for this absurd omission of musicians from Bulawayo?
"Our recognition cannot be separated from the recognition of our fellow artists..."
Is that a fair proposition, or is it asking too much of them? I am not sure.
I am trying hard to imagine how the NAMAs can come to Bulawayo and the organisers, believe in their hearts and minds, that they have honoured the city, when some of its most gallant performers, like Jeys Marabini, Khuxman, Iseqa Mabhilidi, and others, are not even on their role of honour?
Art and sports are supposed to be the great unifiers; especially in nations like ours, which have huge, stinking wounds of the legacy of a traumatised past, a past which is still very fresh in the minds of many people from this region. This was meant to be an opportunity to use arts as a bridge, to reach out and touch each other across the tribal divide that has separated our country for so long. It is not an elixir that will solve all our ills; but a gesture of goodwill.
And to bring the awards to Bulawayo, and have not even one musician nominated is an insult that should not be taken lightly!
The city of Kings (and Queens) must stand up and ask the pertinent question;
"How do you come to my house and insult me and my children?"
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Source: Thamsanqa N. Ncube
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