Okay its official, my adopted city of Bulawayo is literally teeming with talent.
Intwasa Arts Festival KoBulawayo is in full throttle and this column cannot be about much else of course. So if you haven’t bought tickets to the events you are missing out on some of Africa’s brightest talents.
The goodie bag of entertainment had me rapt on the opening day of Intwasa Wednesday night at the National Gallery. It was packed to the rafters. The crowds came out. Bulawayo locals have changed their minds I tell you.
They have begun to embrace their very own. It’s been a long time coming, but it is happening.
Opening night Wednesday was the official opening night and Cont Mhlanga was the guest of honour. That was quite fitting. Mhlanga is Mr Showbiz isn’t he?
As fallible as the rest of us, no one can take away from him the trailblazing legacy that he has carved for posterity as regards our arts and culture. When he speaks people listen and last night he spoke.
Ten years down the line, Intwasa has come into its own running under the theme Unforgettable. The opening act was Vocal Ex. I think they try these kids but they are in a funk. They are Joyous Celebration clones.
That’s my subjective opinion. Yes, they have that girl who dances on stilettos, but what else makes them different from ZimPraise? I suppose that they are from here and that they have good voices.
Ladies Night: Lady Tshawe and Thandy shine like diamonds
I caught S’tha the poet up on stage. She was spitting fire bemoaning the socioeconomic malaise we are in. I have rarely ever seen her like that but boy, did she deliver! If you can’t understand the language then tough because she rocked that house.
Lady Tshawe recited her love poetry so eloquently. Love sounds much more appealing in a love song or poem sometimes . . . Oh to be young, gifted and black! May she never be disappointed in love then!
An author, poet and singer all rolled into one, the young lady oozed confidence belying her age. Up against experienced poetess S’tha Dube, Lady Tshawe showed out in her poems 10 Things I want to say to a future husband and A Gentlemen’s Love.
Boasting her royal credentials and Christian faith, she told the audience she is a descendant of legendary Ndebele Queen Lozikeyi.
Born Nomatshawekazi Damasane, she is the daughter of Reverend Paul Bayethe Damasane in Arts and Culture ministry principal director. She stepped out of her father’s shadow and made a serious declaration that she is a star in her own right. Lady Tshawe, if guided properly, could go very, very far.
She writes her material, she recites and she sings the material.
Thandy was backed up by her usual conspirators X-Mile, Butshilo, Zet Moyo and percussionist Stango who threatened to steal the show with his antics on the shakers.
I listened carefully to what he was doing on the percussion and it was spot on. Stango I am told, is working on a project with Tuku. Yes, the crowd loved what he was doing, but it wasn’t his show. You get my drift . . .
Wednesday night was all about the girls. Now Thandy is the talented, willowy soprano voiced chanteuse who used to back Sandra Ndebele back in the days. She has stepped out of Sandy’s shadow and she holds her own on stage with pizzazz and grace.
A singer — songwriter and mbira player, she produces a delectable sound that teases the soul. Sometimes I think that her big heart which leads her to share the platform with these other equally strong artistes is at once good and bad; good because it makes economic sense to have them backing her.
She doesn’t have to pay them. It’s bad because sometimes we just have to see the girl alone. Yeah.
Again, the vibe and feel good factor was palpable. The motley crowd was sipping on the wine from the corporate Afdis who graciously sponsored the event. The future looks bright in terms of artistes being embraced by audiences.
My friend Rizla is one of those guys who have been around in terms of showbiz albeit across the border. He thinks that now Intwasa needs to take the whole thing to the townships or at least some of the events where the numbers truly are. I agree. Why not?
Arts as business workshop
I sat through Moses Nkomo the lawyer’s presentation at the Culture Fund of Zimbabwe and US-sponsored workshop at the Hope Centre venue along Leopold Takawira Avenue. He has a master’s degree in Intellectual Property as well.
So he took the audience comprising Midlands State University students and others through the seven Ps of establishing one’s business in the creative sector.
I raised a point that his presentation presupposed that the attendees knew what they needed to do in the creative sector.
This opened up the discussion with some confessing the dilemma that they were yet to establish their strengths etc. In the end though, the discussion managed to trigger introspection among the attendées.
Where is the money in all this?
The money in our creative sector is very hard to locate. An easy thing to do is to fill the venues with crowds. You must have a product though. Because times are hard, you just have to be very good at what you do.
You also have to stand out from the whole pack.
Otherwise you are stuffed. Critically from where I stand, with regards music, the money is in live performances. So artists must develop their brands. The media plays a big role in this. The other revenue stream is the digital distribution platforms and mobile telecoms, ie ring tones.
Incidentally, a local company Astro Mobile which designs smartphones has come up with a platform: Mobi Store that will see artists selling their music, set for launch this month end.
A representative from the company, one Leornard Mafati who also attended the workshop, had an interview with Culture Beat in which he elaborated how local artists could benefit.
The platform boasts a technology which helps curb piracy. Local artistes are well advised to get in touch with Astro Mobile to become part of this initiative.
Another tid-bit I can share is that Thembalami of Brighter Day fame was the most downloaded artist with over 50 000 downloads on one of the mobile phone platforms in one month!
That represents a tidy amount for the artiste. But do you even know who he is? Artistes wake up and smell the dead presidents!