Laugh my beloved country


LAUGH my beloved country! We need to toast to a country capable of generating so much entertainment and a country full of contradictions and double standards.

Zimbabwe will never cease to amaze and entertain all at the same time! When Junior Lizzy Zinhu — Beverly “Bev” Sibanda — entered the scene, I took to my column and screamed. She hogged limelight and she became a national tsunami. No sooner had she dazzled the entertainment circles and shaken the cultural boundaries than she took on Christianity and created waves.

Once again I argued we had not seen the last of her and indeed we discovered her real name was not even Beverly Sibanda.

Her story continues to unravel and this week she was arrested following performances at and after a “national event”, the much talked about carnival.

Just how did she find herself performing at that stage and who did not know what she was capable of until that day? Was it a surprise? I suppose all along nobody noticed her “crime” until this carnival day!

So Bev has pleaded guilty to physically getting in contact with her audiences and been slapped with a $100 fine or a 60-day jail term. Apparently she has a striptease certificate which states “No physical contact should be made between the artiste and the audience during the performance of striptease act nor should the performer of a striptease act leave the open floor area for the purpose of the act as a stage.”

There we have it, Bev is legal, and she just did not follow her licence conditions.

Did you even know there is provision for licensing strip teasers in our country? I for one did not and I would rather from now on Bev is named and described for what she is and does by public, media and all those concerned. For avoidance of confusion and doubt she must be called a strip tease artiste not a dancer.

Beverly’s storm was brewed by the carnival street party held in Harare a fortnight ago. In my opinion the event exposed the self-contradictions and hypocrisy that bedevils our country entertainment wise.

Is Zimbabwe cultural or just far too conservative and do we think that is good for us as a nation? There has been an outcry over the dress styles or lack thereof at the street party with some people blasting the organisers for allowing “nudity” to invade our culturally “correct” country.

This makes a topic for a fascinating debate for a country that imported an idea of the carnival from countries like Jamaica where everything literally goes in terms of fashion at the street party. What did we expect at the carnival after all?

Robes and hoods? If you order a pizza from Italy you cannot complain about the dough! For a country licensing striptease already, recording sex video tapes and exchanging porn like hot cakes already we need to decide how far we want to preserve our cultural reservations. Such fashion and semi-nudity comes with carnivals so we cannot embrace carnivals without embracing their make-up.

Internationally, carnivals attract tourists and countries record an influx in hotel bookings, restaurants and other leisure points and events arenas.

They actually rake in millions in revenue for countries concerned and without being told, the profit is obvious. According to press reports the Zim-Carnival spent $913 000.

That is figure that no one cannot just ignore. The question is in return how much did the country make? How visible was the event worldwide? Was this huge bill really worth it?

In my opinion we could use such budgets to fund and support festivals and events that are already existing, like Intwasa, Hifa, Ibumba, Inxusa, Bulawayo Culture Festival and other ceremonies all over the country. We have a serious appetite for always starting new things without strengthening those already in place. The carnival was a good idea, but coming right after Hifa, in winter and at that cost could be detrimental.

Just when I felt the country was seriously acting like a teenager who does not know what to embrace and what not to embrace for her identity, culture and entertainment Bulawayo city fathers added to the complex plot.

How culturally reserved can a city be? At a time when Bulawayo is labelled a dead city devoid of social life and good entertainment councillor Clayton Zana wants night clubs to be banned arguing, “We should not be a laughing stock as Bulawayo. We can’t have a night club right at the central business district. There are banks close by. It’s bad for our image. We can’t allow that as Bulawayo and people who drink at night clubs are not smart”, he said while councillor Gideon Mangena added: “We should not be like Harare.

It’s noisy at night clubs. People are killed at those places.” Unbelievable!

This is an insult to all outgoing Bulawayo people. In which era are the city fathers living? Their picture of night clubs is disheartening to say the least.

Can the city and its entertainment grow when we have leaders who have such a bad picture of night life and entertainment? They should take time and visit these venues and see how many respectable citizens frequent these clubs.

We need serious introspection. Gone are the days when bars and night clubs were dungeons of death and immorality. Keep walking.