It’s a black tie affair at show stealing Namas !

THE dress code is formal and our glitterati will be decked out in all their formal finery at the Bulawayo Rainbow Hotel.

I can almost taste it, the cheese and maybe wine, except that I like myself constantly sober.

Look, this is going to be a night of a thousand stars and they will shine bright for the whole country to see from their couches at home.

I have every reason to expect better than last year. Last year’s awards at City Hall was the stuff that dreams are made complete with limos and red carpet for the nominees and I just can’t delete a certain visual from my head ie watching Phephisile Magonya in her doll dress walking up the stage to receive the best female dancer award.

I recollect thinking: where are the fashion police?

Don’t get me wrong folks, that girl can surely dance but her dress code on that night truly bombed. Local designers can offer to dress the nominees to expose their talent. Don’t they need to hog that spotlight and advertise their skills?

The (National Arts Merit Awards) Namas are huge and they must be treated, in the words of the National Arts Council’s acting director, with all the “respect they deserve”.

Thankfully, yours truly will see his gleeful self hobnobbing with the likes of Cont Mhlanga — whom I hold in much respect for his pioneering work in our cultural industries.

Tips

So the nominees list is out, courtesy of a Press conference yesterday in Harare. I got the mail from umaMthombeni at the National Arts Council’s communications department.

It did not surprise me much that Jah Prayzah would get three nominations for starters.

He sort of towered above the rest in a somewhat mediocre year in 2013. It’s a safe bet to say that he will snag at least one, if not in the song of the year category for Tsviriyo, but he has competition in Seunononga from Emmanuel Manyeruke aka Guspy Warrior and Zino Irema by current gospel dynamo Mathias Mhere.

The nominations are good for the young man in faux military gear. His vibe is unique that’s for sure.

It straddles sungura and reggae. There are reggae inflections in his sound and he does not sound like anybody else out there at present.

Actually, the other person to have walked down a somewhat similar path of blending sungura and reggae undertones was the late John Chibadura. So maybe yeah, he deserves the attention.

Rooting for the champions

I am rooting for Umkhathi Theatre Works — the reigning traditional dance champions — to waltz into glory in their nominated categories of outstanding group and best male dancer because apart from a critically acclaimed overseas tour, they beat all and sundry in the national dance competitions last year.

Their competitors, in my subjective opinion, are a hard sell for the national dance notwithstanding the fact that they lean toward contemporary dance whereas Umkhathi specialises in traditional dance.

But what did they actually do that had a far reaching “national” impact?

One of the nominees is an established group to be fair, but what contest did they at least win last year in order to be considered “excellent” Zero!

Judgment requires a more objective test to separate the grain from the proverbial chaff. Moreover, to my mind, the word excellent implies comparison with others’ achievements in a contest. On my score card, Umkhathi can’t lose.

Curious

I don’t know how the Nama panel did not then nominate Matesu Dube for best choreography if his dance ensemble is in contention for the best dance company award.

How exactly does a dance group become excellent without excellent choreography? It does not make sense though it tends to happen even at the Oscars. Educate me kindly please dear judges.

The Grammies

Ladysmith Black Mambazo won a Grammy. The South African a cappella group won best world album category. It’s a fourth Grammy award for the inspirational imbube group which undoubtedly motivated local groups such Insingizi and Impumelelo Shining Stars to begin their own journeys as musicians.

The Ladysmith Grammy award was for Live: Singing For Peace Around The World which was shared with another group from South America.
The album was dedicated to the late icon Nelson Mandela who was reportedly one of the band’s biggest supporters and passed away in December 2013.

Mandela took the group along with him to Oslo, Norway, when he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 as a sure nod to the group’s excellence and that country’s high regard for its artistes.

Imagine the mileage that comes with that brand association? We will get there . . .

Parting shot

Speaking of imbube, Austria-based Dumisani “Ramadu” Moyo is in the country. Who is he? Ramadu has morphed into an arts entrepreneur fronting Nobuntu and Jeys Marabini via his 10th District record label.

He has already taken the all-girl ensemble Nobuntu and Jeys on their maiden trip to Austria aside from releasing them on his 10th District imprint.

Importantly, his group Insingizi is one of only two African groups whose music sold over 250 000 in Wal-Mart the giant US store chain alongside the Grammy winning Ladysmith Black Mambazo! But there it is. Success. The numbers don’t lie.

The group’s album Songs from Southern Africa Volume 1 released by ARC Records was a groundbreaking one.

Ungadeleli! Now if you can, use your visa card to buy it online.

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