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Journalists, artistes, go to school


ARTISTES and journalists must go to school! This will probably rile many and ruffle feathers out and beyond!


I will be crucified in newsrooms and rehearsal rooms for insulting artistes and journalists on a very public platform, but wait until I prove myself.

After all, a man is innocent until proven guilty! Forget the pun. Many a time as dancers, actors, musicians and painters we are told we are not educated.

Once in a while I get a visit or a call from a concerned parent who says their child failed their “O” Levels or “A” Levels and they were wondering if we could give them a chance in the arts.

How insulting? Who said the arts industry is a dumping ground or rehabilitation centre for academic failures?
The reason why I declare that our artistes must go back to school is not exactly directed at going through “O” and “A” Levels per ser.

Do you remember when we all had to be Y2K compliant? When we were told that on the first day of the year 2000 our gadgets would become obsolete if they were not Y2K compliant?

That is the background of my observation. Zimbabwe boasts a lot of talent be it in music, dance, theatre, amazing instrument players, actors and directors.

All of them hope to use their talents to achieve great heights and even rake in comfortable lifestyles.
Day and night they toil and the general aim is to make it to the “Promised Land”.

The Promised Land in most circumstances is breaking into the international market, releasing bestselling albums and striking deals in Hollywood, among other developments.
Unfortunately, many of us have come short of this achievement and that is why I say we must go back to school.

We are now living and working in an era as artistes in which TALENT is no longer sufficient qualification. We now need to subsidise our talent with qualifications.

While our country prides itself of so many talented artistes, many of them do not possess a certificate, a diploma or a degree to back it.
In that way, some people with average talent, but armed with academic qualifications for the same jobs and opportunities, ride above us and are preferred over the more talented, but without a paper to show for it.

The world over, films, musical productions and theatres are no longer looking for talent only.

They are demanding qualifications for all those fields and trust me, as Zimbabweans we are found wanting in that light.
It’s high time our talented actors reinforced their careers with a diploma or more from an acting school or university.

We need trained and qualified stage managers, lighting technicians, stage designers, costume designers, among other fields.
We need guitar, drum and keyboard players with grades on how best they play.

We need acting schools and music schools whose courses are recognised internationally, just like the Cambridge education some of us went through.
The world over, you can no longer get a job just by telling prospective employers that your grandfather taught you how to act or play an instrument — and he was the best in the world.

That is not compliant to the current markets for the arts and I can predict that if nothing changes in the near future, we risk becoming dinosaurs of our time.

Most of our artistes are “Jacks of all trades”. We write, produce, design, perform, market and financially manage our productions singlehandedly.
How can one person without any qualification succeed in all that where even big industrial companies employ over 30 specialists to achieve it?

Before writing this article, I tried to list 10 qualified arts professionals I know from my country and half way down the list I got stuck!
This is unacceptable, comrades! I also realised we have a clear distinction between our arts ,academics and practitioners.

Our universities are churning out academics who have studied theatre and music, but how are we utilising them if ever we are doing so?
Many of them end up in offices managing festivals and working for non-governmental organisations. How many are on stage?

How many are musicians? How many have set up studios and in any case are they fully educated to be able to sustain a career in the arts? Questions, questions, but no answers.

 Our journalists similarly need proper education on the arts.
They are so crucial to our industry and the good thing that can also turn to be a bad thing is that nowadays what they write sticks to the Internet and is always hard to erase.

What they write will always be referred to. My concern is that while most of them went to a journalism school, how many specialised in arts?
Do we have appropriate journalists for the different sectors? Do we have a proper theatre critic, a trained jazz journalist, a dance journalist and arts marketing journalists?

When they preview our shows, our work and review it later, what informs their writing? Is it opinion or education?
We lack expert journalists for our various fields, something that has become a trend and a norm the world over.

I trust that I have been able to justify myself after all. I was not after denigrating our artistes and journalists, but I felt I needed to echo the need to specialise.

 On a sombre note, we mourn the loss of guitarist and musician Handsome Mabhiza. I grew up admiring him perform with Steve Dyer&Southern Freeway.
He trained a lot of musicians in the country and was later forgotten. Sad indeed. May his soul rest in peace. You are a legend!
 On a lighter note, Hakeem Mandaza was evicted from the Big Brother Africa (BBA)  House. Well tried, but I could not ignore his “extro-statement”.

He said: “I entered BBA just to boost myself as an artiste. Music has always been my first love and I am now looking forward to recording some songs, putting my music out there and using the exposure I gained from the show to market myself as an artiste.”
 Really? Let us all welcome the new independent channel 1st TV to our Wiztech and Philabao decoders.
Dear Temba Hove and team, just show the people what they want to watch and you won’t go wrong! All the best.


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