How is an artiste’s worth measured?


SOME issues just cannot be ignored and the recently flopped gala that was billed for White City Stadium dubbed the “Jayiva Gala” seems to have opened a can of stinking worms, for lack of a better description.

The show featured seasoned artistes like Jeys Marabini, Sandra Ndebele, Martin Sibanda from Ndolwane Super Sounds, Chase S’kuza, Clement Magwaza, Ndux Malax Junior and several DJs.

It’s on record that only 40 people paid to watch the show even after the charges had been reduced from $5 to $3.

The organisers failed to pay the artistes and the money raised was used to pay police officers — forgive me for asking why not the other way round?

It follows then that everybody wants to establish why the show failed and the press and social sites like Facebook have been platforms for heated debates on that.

The usual culprits the Bulawayo fans, the Bulawayo artistes, the promoter, the venue and the press have been thrown into the frying pan in what has become a rather monotonous debate about the success and failure of arts in Matabeleland.

The claims have gone as far as insinuating that artistes from Bulawayo are not worth $5, a notion and assumption I found rather offensive and uninformed by facts.

A friend of mine even quizzed everybody when he asked how we should measure an artiste’s worth.

Is it by the performance fees they ask for? Is it by the number of newspaper articles they generate per week?

Is it by the number the number of CDs they sell per year or the number of people they draw to their shows?

Opinions vary on this matter, but the value of any product remains the prerogative of producer and owner who is the artiste, judging by its demand on the market and realities, costs and other inputs.

Artistes should have and know their price on their terms. Fans have a value they attach to an artist and promoters also have a value they give to an artiste mostly based on how much they can make by working with that particular artist.

It simply depends on who is doing the evaluation and for what reasons and purpose.

That is basically why I feel that it’s overboard to cross the line and lump artistes from Bulawayo into one and assume they are worth less than $5.

When will artistes from the southern region break away from the bondage of believing the city they come from has everything or anything to do with their success or failure? Do shows only flop in Bulawayo?

When a city is like Bulawayo and with limited activities compared to the capital, does it follow therefore that all artistes born in that city are not creative, lack ideas, not moving with the times and are therefore bound to fail?

Maybe our press and media have overemphasised the notion that Bulawayo artistes are a failure they have also started believing it. I see things differently.

I believe in that cat who looks at himself in the mirror and sees a lion instead.

I understand editors and scribes when they indicate always and say they do not run public relations (PR) houses for artistes. Yes, they don’t, but they should also not fall into the trap of negative reporting for the sake of it.

Constructive criticism is welcome, but destructive journalism is like shooting oneself in the foot because after all the artistes are sources of news. Asking for fair journalism is not asking for PR reporting per ser.

Artistes should do away with the inferiority complex because it’s very contagious — even generations that come after us will be contaminated.

Comedian Babongile Sikhonjwa — back at school — once pranked a mate by telling everybody who met him to ask him why he was looking ill on that day. The guy was well, but by the end of the day he was at the school clinic!

Artistes from Matabeleland are slowly catching on the illness of failure because we keep being told they are failing, they are not creative and they will never make it. We need a new positive attitude. Promoters on the other hand need redefinition.

Who is a promoter? A person who hires artistes for a show and makes his money?

A person who works closely with a musician or stable of artistes and promotes their work for his and their benefit? Ask me and I will tell you the role of a promoter is misunderstood. Keep walking.