Are Nama nominees Zim’s best culture exports?

Soul Jah Love

Soul Jah Love

Bongani Ndlovu, Showbiz Correspondent
The National Art Merit Awards (NAMAs) nominees list is out.

As usual it features many nominees that some people have their reservations over while others congratulate those who have made the cut.

All those who follow the arts are now looking forward to the day of the ceremony slated for February 17 at the Reps Theatre in Harare.

These awards are the pinnacle for any artiste practising in the country as it honours them as the most outstanding in whatever genre they are in.

In any award ceremony, they are held firstly to celebrate the good works that artistes have done during the past year and also as a marketing tool for people around the nation and the world to focus on Zimbabwe art.

Now with these 96 nominees are they the best cultural exports that the country has?

Regardless of who will win come the day of the awards, according to international standards these 96 are the best at it in Zimbabwe and they can represent the country out there.

If one looks at the spoken word artistes, whoever wins the various awards whether in poetry or comedy will they be able to slug it out with the best at it out there?

Gonyeti has another shot at winning with her second nomination in as many years. Q Dube has tried to use the win last year to catapult his career and has appeared at comedy central in South Africa and has established his own comedy promotional company.

Turning to the film category where dramas such as Muchaneta, Muzita Rababa and Wenera, are touted as the best three in Zimbabwe under that category.

They can be popular with the Zimbabwean crowd, but will they appeal to a wider audience outside the country’s borders?

Whatever artistes produce, although doing it for the local market, should have the appeal outside the country’s borders like the music of Nigerians and their movies. Somehow although the beat is foreign and the words come out funny, it’s entertaining. They compete now globally with the Drakes and Kendrick Lamars. Jah Prayzah is headed in that direction so is Ammara Brown, but not Soul Jah Love who looks content with the Zimbabwean market.

As with the mandate of the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe, the NAMAs are supposed to encourage artistes to produce quality artefacts that can, in other words, be exported.

When an international film festival looks at Zimbabwe’s industry the very best in terms of acting, short and long length film production, and music videos are those that have been listed.

Or when Government wants to travel to an arts exhibition, the dance groups that are supposed to be chosen must come from the nominees list as they are deemed the best in the country.

Those groups might find it hard to portray Zimbabwe culturally through song and dance when they are in the Diaspora because even the NAMA adjudicators through its chairperson Professor Ruby Magosvongwe said in the dance sector there is the “absence of meaningful traditional dance entries” this year.

“Most traditional dance practitioners are not creating new works that are evident of innovation and creativity,” said Prof Magosvongwe.

It was surprising that renowned videographer Vusa Blaqs’ products were missing from the Outstanding Music Video category.

Perhaps Blaqs did not submit or his stuff didn’t make the cut, but the former seems to be true because Prof Magosvongwe said videos lacked imagination and creativity, something that Blaqs has proven in abundance.

“Most submissions of music videos lack imagination and creativity. Many artistes do not invest in hiring producers as they prefer to produce and direct the filming of the video by themselves. This compromised the quality of the submitted film product,” said Prof Magosvongwe.

Others like local videographer Nigel Ndlovu, who in the past has been aggrieved by the NAMA selection criteria could not fathom the fact that one film The Walk — Post Apocalyptic Short Film shot in Bulawayo did not make the cut.

This, according to Ndlovu, is a travesty of justice as the short film has won awards overseas but somehow fails to make the cut locally.

A look at the website shows that the film won an award for Best Experimental under the Short Film Award in October last year.

A lot of blame can be attributed to the artistes but they are doing the best they can under the circumstances of the economy and the lack of funding in the arts sector.

Most, if not all, of these products that are produced by these 96 nominees are solely self funded or through handouts from donors which are not meaningful for the sustenance of the artistes.

It’s high time NAMA start to recognise those who are doing well internationally and at least acknowledge them in whatever they do. Some artistes are putting the country on the world map and really making a name for themselves in the fine arts and other fields.

So Zimbabwe will wait with bated breath to see who the country’s next potential exports are. Will they use that platform to catapult their careers globally?

Article Source: The Chronicle

Leave a comment