International artistes overrated


I AM very angry at Zimbabweans this week, myself included. Angry because I feel that we still do not realise who we are and what our potential is. I had experiences this week that left me with a lump in my soul.


Not that I will ever regret being Zimbabwean. Not in my lifetime. I know, I have seen and experienced the glory of being Zimbabwean and I will not exchange my citizenship even for any dime value.

Why do we suffer from so much inferiority complex as a people? In the past week or so we hosted several international artistes — D’banj who was at the Beer Fest in Harare, Professor and Doctor Malinga who were at the Beitbridge international festival and Dj Zinhle who was in Bulawayo.

Reviews of all these shows point to serious disappointment. Locals feel they were short-changed. Papers have been awash with complaints of these probably overrated stars letting down their legion of fans in the country. I was in Beitbridge for the festival and I think we as Zimbabweans have given these international stars far too much glory than they deserve yet to add salt to injury they have not thanked us in return.

While these international stars are seriously overpaid by promoters and continue to make unrealistic demands when they come to Zimbabwe, we all seem to worship them than merely support them. I remember one South African star who has since lost his glitter once came to Zimbabwe and demanded that we source spiced chicken wings, a bottle of Jack Daniels and “weed” for him.

He asked that his dressing room at the Large City Hall have an air conditioner! I saw seasoned promoters running like headless chickens to satisfy these absurd requirements. Just this week these stars were also whining about “Zimbabwean” PA systems being substandard. Does a PA system have to be Zimbabwean to be poor?

I think it’s just a case of somebody biting a hand that feeds them because if you look at it, Zimbabwe is a gold mine for most of these stars. I doubt they earn as much as they do in Zimbabwe in comparison to their countries of origin.

Fellow Zimbabweans, do we pay these artistes to come and perform or is it just about seeing them in the flesh?

The latter is closer to reality. To me some of them are just good recording artistes rather than performing artistes. People seem to flock to venues to see their faces and be content rather than enjoy their acts.

That explains why some promoters have taken to bringing soapie stars like Dineo from Generations to appear and be seen and be photographed with fans for a hefty entrance fee. A good song writer is not necessarily a good performer. Not all hit-makers are also good on stage.

I am so happy, in fact, that even our media is beginning to see beyond the smokescreen created by these famous artistes who invade our country of very honest and faithful fans. On any day when these venues host international artistes the local ones are treated like dirt.

They have to beg for stage time. They have to clear dressing rooms before the glorified stars can come in and bouncers shove them left, right and centre to make way for these “icons”.

In some worse case scenarios, local acts are booed off stage not because they are performing badly, but because people impatiently want “what they paid to see”.

Get it from me most local artistes are terrified to be supporting for international artistes.

I am not known for making populist statements and I am not about to. In my opinion local artistes work so hard on costume and stage work especially given a chance to perform along these celebrated artistes.

On the contrary, the international artistes of late seem to put less effort on their stage work and choreography when they come to Zimbabwe.

They at times do not even bother to change costumes and perform in the same clothes they travelled in, literally looking shabby. Yet they don’t do that when they perform in their countries and at such awards ceremonies where we see and admire them.

Bluntly, they look down upon us as a country. Imagine some even perform with bottles of alcohol in hand, drunk at the expense of the promoter and it’s acceptable! As a local artiste, you would not even dare. The public and media would skin you and hang you to dry.

In South Africa they say local is lekker, but in Zimbabwe we think local is substandard. We are so into foreign products we are even fed on embalmed chickens!

I boarded luxury coaches to and from Harare and because they insist on international class and standards, you won’t hear local music in them nor watch any local films too.

Local artistes and their work have their place I presume, the commuter omnibuses, shebeens and “chicken” buses. Not that I despise those, but it’s just another indicator of our inferiority complex as Zimbos!

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