The festive season is upon us. What a better way for Bulawayo to usher in Christmas and the New Year than to host the sixth edition of African Union Sports Council Region 5 Youth Games from December 5 to 14.
We could not have asked for anything less or more from Santa!
The visitors are coming to town, Africa is paying us a visit. The countries paying us a visit are Botswana, South Africa, Seychelles, Angola, Lesotho, Namibia, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland and Zambia.
We have to be at our best and we have to show the whole of Zimbabwe and Africa that it is no fluke that we are called the City of Kings and Queens for we treat our visitors as such.
Bulawayo is the city that has complained a lot about being left out of national, let alone international events.
It’s the city that believes Bambazonke (Harare) does it all and feel that they have not been given a fair opportunity to shine by the powers-that-be.
We have heard stories of conferences, festivals, sporting tournaments moved from Bulawayo because some people believe we do not have the capacity to host events of huge magnitude.
There is already a lot of hype about the Youth Games that Bulawayo will host and to me they really will be a litmus test for the city.
I always insist that just like politics, the success of sporting and entertainment lies in the power of the people.
No matter how well the stadiums are prepared, no matter how much entertainment is lined up for the Youth Games, if the people of Bulawayo do not come out in their numbers to the stadiums and other venues to support, praise, cheer and celebrate, then after December 13 we shall script another sad chapter of obituaries and post-mortems for the games.
We have been challenged by President Robert Mugabe, the government and people of Zimbabwe to stand up and be counted. We need to shake off our shackles and underdog tags, go out there and make Zimbabwe proud of us.
Sport and the arts are probably the most popular forms of entertainment in the world.
The people will be spoilt for choice because alongside the sporting events that include soccer, netball, judo, athletics, swimming, tennis and boxing, there are a lot of cultural events lined up.
Just this week hundreds of artistes began preparations for the opening of the games and other events to take place during the tournament.
A sneak preview into their rehearsals got me excited and daydreaming. Truth be told, the high morale the artistes are showing must not go unrewarded.
When the time comes, I implore people from all walks of life, young and old, to come out in their numbers and rubberstamp Bulawayo’s enormous capabilities.
Years back Bulawayo hosted the All-Africa Games where icons like Methembe Ndlovu and Benjamin Nkonjera shined.
I still have vivid memories of the atmosphere, pomp and fanfare that gripped Bulawayo during that sports festival. It can be done again next month.
All the hard work, stadium rebuilding and renovations, road shows and marketing that has come with the games need to realise fruition.
It’s up to the people to host our visitors and entertain them in a manner that will make the whole country proud.
Several countries around the world have been given either a sporting or cultural status or even both. Their economies benefit a lot from their image and ability to hold successful events, festivals, tournaments and cultural activity.
South Africa’s Durban is one such city and ironically Bulawayo is a twin city to it.
Let us grab this opportunity to put our city out there for all to see and marvel. We need not diamonds and gold to achieve it. We just need one resource, a resource that we do have, our people.
May I unofficially invite the people of Bulawayo to come out in their droves to support the sporting and cultural festival that is coming to our city next month.
Let us fill up the stadiums and create a good reputation for ourselves as indeed the cultural capital city of Zimbabwe.
On a separate note, there was a stampede at a dance hall show dubbed Sting 2014 held at the City Sports Centre in Harare last Saturday.
This was after musicians Soul Jah Love and Seh Calez got physical and fought on stage. To add salt to injury, there are claims that the tiff between the two artistes was a stunt designed to add hype to the event.
Initially, there were rumours that some people had died, but they were later dismissed.
This is unacceptable. No one deserves to find themselves at the centre of violence at any entertainment venue or event.
For a country battling to create audiences for its musicians we need to immediately deal with this leprosy and call for order in the dance hall genré. Enough is enough. Keep walking.
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