‘Time to move away from booking SA acts and focus on locals’

The Chronicle

Melissa Mpofu, Showbiz Editor
AFTER two years, the annual Victoria Falls Carnival was finally held last weekend.

Although the headline acts, DJ Maphorisa, Shasha and Kabza De Small (who blew up a budget of over R400 000) opted not to attend the event for reasons known to them, their absence was hardly felt as other artistes put on a good show.

Spirited performances by locals at the three-day event have been acknowledged by organisers of the carnival who have said “we need to move away from booking South Africa artistes and focus more on the local talent and international artistes that want to actually play for fans.”

For three nights, people from all over the Southern African region were treated to quality entertainment from Master KG, Zanda Zakuza, Nutty O, Gemma Griffiths, Djembe Monks, Ngoma Ingoma, Flying Bantu, Takura, Boity, Shimza, Sun El Musician, DJ Francis, DJ Kabelo, Khoisan and King Her.

These artistes had things in common — those who were not from Zimbabwe were excited to be there as evidenced by their engagement with fans on and off stage while local artistes, most of who were performing at the event for the first time, were grateful for the opportunity.

The carnival was celebrating its 10th anniversary and to celebrate, fun activities in the form of boat and pool parties were added. Over and above, those who attended had fun as they braved the cold evenings and created memories.

Chronicle Showbiz Editor, Melissa Mpofu (MM) had a chat with the festival director Craig Bright (CB) after the event. The two discussed the way forward in terms of some South African artistes’ continuous failure to pitch up for the event as well as the possibility of the event moving dates from December to April.

Below is the interview.

MM: Since the carnival was held in April this year, does this mean that the event that was traditionally held in December will now be held annually in April?

CB: Yes, we are considering officially moving the dates to the end of April annually.

MM: Will there be another festival or event in December this year?

CB: We are going to make a call on this in the next few weeks.

MM: Vic Falls Carnival @10. What was your take on the celebrations?

CB: The fans came with the fire this year. It was great to see the hunger for live music events again after such a long period of isolation.

MM: Of South African artistes continuous failure to perform at the event, from Prince Kaybee to AKA and now DJ Maphorisa, Shasha and Kabza. Who is to blame? What do you think can be done to avoid such from happening in the future?

CB: Of the above, Prince Kaybee was the only legitimate case of him being sick. He was here and our doctors attended to him and said there was no chance that he could perform. With the other artistes, it’s unacceptable. I think we need to move away from booking South African artistes and focus more on local talent and international artistes that want to actually play for our fans. We are busy with the latest matter and will keep you posted on our progress.

MM: A statement released on Sunday stated that carnival organisers wanted their money paid back by the artistes who failed to pitch. What’s the latest update?

CB: We spent an excess of R400K on the three artistes who were supposed to perform together. The amount of work that goes on behind the scenes is huge. There are no words to describe the feeling and disappointment of their actions. They have said they want to resolve this issue. We have sent over, all costs and invoices from flights, accommodation, and work permits to performance contracts and proof of payments. We have given them a deadline of today (yesterday) to pay us back in full.

MM: How many people attended the event?

CB: We will have these final numbers by Monday latest. We are guessing around 3 500 fans this year. With the change in dates, we were hoping for at least 3 000 so we’re definitely happy with turn out. On our best years over

New Year’s we were just over 5 500 fans.

MM: How was it organising this year’s event during a pandemic?

Craig Bright

CB: Extremely tough with the stress of the travel weighing heavily on us. Anything can happen literally overnight.

MM: The carnival is undeniably one of the best organised events in the country. How have you managed to successfully execute this over the years?

CB: We have an extremely strong team with decades of experience. That being said, we always take learnings from each year and focus on making the event better and better, year on year.

MM: Hosting an event in Zimbabwe. How has it been? Are there challenges that you have faced that you may want to be attended to?

CB: I think hosting a festival anywhere in the world has its challenges especially coming out of a pandemic. Vic Falls is in a remote place and the expenses are through the roof because of the travel and accommodation expenses that need to get taken care of. As far as a venue is concerned, Vic Falls is built for festivals of this size and we couldn’t be happier.

MM: After each edition of the carnival. Some artistes have felt left out. How do you select your artistes?

CB: There are always going to be artistes who are left unhappy with not being booked. They need to apply like everyone else. 70% of our artistes were locals. We also need to make this an international event and that’s where the rest of the international artistes come in.

MM: How have you managed to attract audiences from different countries over the years?

CB: We are a destination/location festival (a place where you certainly want to visit at least once in your lifetime).

We also book artistes from all the neighbouring countries so that is also certainly a reason why we have crossed borders and attracted fans from outside of Zimbabwe.

MM: Which country dominated the carnival this year?

CB: This year was certainly Zimbabweans. We focused heavily on the local market as we didn’t know how or where we would be due to the travel rules and regulations.

Article Source: The Chronicle

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