Clothing indaba injustice

LAST WEEK I attended the clothing industry gig. I saw models strut their stuff on the ramp.

The clothing industry indaba gig held at Holiday Inn went under the radar as few in the media spotted the anomaly and snub of local artistes. Intwasa after all, was in its throes.

The master of ceremony was from Harare and so was the guest artist Prayersoul. How much was it to bring them both to Bulawayo?

I could have given the organisers about 10 names of local artists who could have done the job superbly. Hell, I could have given them the top MC in this country: Babongile Sikhonjwa to do the job.

He is number one because he has the rare combination of street smarts, sophistication, humour and wit to put him in a rarefied position ahead of the competition.

Add the fact that he is a multi-lingual speaking Ndebele, English and Shona, then you have the quintessential showman . . .

Sometimes I tell myself: this is not your fight, walk away and forget all about it. What do you care what happens anyway? You can always relocate and enjoy the comfort of those in the capital city.

But I just cannot do that though. Why? Because in the interests of fairness and equity, local artistes and entertainers should have handled the business at the event.

Secondly, deep inside I know that injustice must be tackled without regard to self interest because downstream, injustice is like Ebola: It devastatingly affects all it comes into contact with. Good God Almighty!

My sense now is that we just have to take care of ourselves outside of the capital city just like the late king of pop Michael Jackson said in his protest song They Don’t Care About Us.

This country dear comrades, is much bigger than Harare. It stretches from Zambezi to Limpopo.

Something good
Ever the optimist, something good came out of the indaba as media reports of a $5 million dollar cash injection into local company, Archer Clothing by Paramount Garments featured in the news bulletins. Over 200 employees who had been laid off work will be reinstated! Thank God!

Intwasa: The curtain call music show
Zimboita a Zimbabwe and Italy collaborative four-member band demonstrated the most gusto on stage Saturday night as Intwasa was making its final stand. The crowd was huge and they were downing the scud traditional beer from Chibuku.

Few of course were downing the lagers surreptitiously bought from the “naughty supermarkets” still open at the time. Sales of liquor at certain times of the night are prohibited.

Zimboita’s frontman on marimbas rode the stage like he was on steroids trying to pump the crowds. But they mostly stood watching. This was a strange groove they were hearing. It wasn’t house music.

But Zimboita carried on till they left the stage. They did commendably well as show-men. The lead singer spilled his guts on stage.

World-beating Mokoomba music
Soon, Mokoomba came on stage. The group’s choreography and dance moves were impeccable and they gave a spirited performance no doubt.

There is a reason why the Europeans love this boy band with their Tonga-inspired sound. They are that good. Still, the locals mainly watched them with a few clapping their hands.

Taught to play musical instruments by the late Alfred Mujimba who took them in when they were young street urchins into his house in Victoria Falls, the youngsters have become the true successors to the legendary Bhundu Boys barring one thing: A local hit song.

Msheznana: Ghetto superstar
Lwazi S’kuza is a bona fide ghetto youth with enormous talent. He has churned township hit after hit that had the crowd pumped on Friday afternoon.

That boy is very gifted and the only reason he is not a nationally recognised star on the same level with say Winky D is the lack of exposure. Radio is not friendly to local music.

I am now convinced beyond a shadow of doubt about the unfair practices of urban radio programme makers. The quality argument does not even cut it.

Local music is making it on bigger platforms outside of Zimbabwe and yet Harare-based urban radio stations continue to ignore the stipulated 75 % local content stipulation.

How much foreign exchange is the country losing to foreign artists whilst our own musicians suffer? As far as I am aware, every time a song is played that is about five bucks due to the songwriter.

Zimbabwe Music Rights Association distributes these amounts at the end of the year to musicians. Ideally our radio stations should be dominated by our musicians’ work.

Some small cliques of people sit and preside over what is heard nationally. Currently I can say with confidence that we have proven that the current urban radio stations Power FM, ZiFM and Star FM are offending as regards the 75% stipulation. We have the stats.

The economy is bleeding and yet rules, laws are flouted flagrantly by those in positions of influence.

Urban radio stations are not obeying the law.

Power FM (this one is heavily, unreasonably biased towards Harare-based artists), Star FM and ZiFM (despite earlier promise) are not obeying the law as regards playing local content.

Three out of every four songs they are playing are not local. Local artists have the music content to fill in the mandatory quota, but they are not abiding by the rules. The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe needs to look into it.

The spirit of the law is to empower local artists without discrimination based on region or regard to language. The time has come for artists to consider a class action suit against the malpractice.

The fight is emotive and at the same time economic. Denying local artists air play denies them access to the markets and continues economic deprivation for local artists.

It works like this: Artist makes music, submits it for review by a listening committee and if approved, the music is then played or introduced on future hit predictions and hopefully play lists.

When your music is played, listeners know about your work, your name grows and you generate revenue at the same time.

Name recognition grows which means that your brand grows and you are “shopped” for performances far and wide.

That is how you have an artist like Tariro neGitare who is not very dissimilar to our own Thandy Dhlana headlining a big platform such as Intwasa Spring Jazz Festival! We have a fight on our hands comrades and we will wage it till the moon turns red!

Our Partners:   NewsDay   The Independent   TheStandard  MyClassifieds