14 January 2013

Zimbabwe: 'Local Talent Getting Raw Deal'

Zimbabwe should leave no stone unturned in its endeavour to promote and give due recognition to its vast reservoir of upcoming talent. The call was made by the director of Zimbabwe Music Crossroads Zimbabwe Mathias Bangure in an interview with The Herald.

Bangure painted a disappointing picture when he chronicled how arguably one of Music Crossroad's best products, Mokoomba, remains largely unknown at home despite the abundant talent, international tours and awards.

"The relevant players in our entertainment industry -- music promoters and the media in particular -- are not doing enough to make sure that this talent reaches all the corners of the country and that the artistes get due recognition," he said.

This was the driving force behind the Music Crossroads Showcase Mission, launched at the Alliance Francaise in November last year.

"The Music Crossroads Showcase Mission came about as a result of this disparity and we are trying to fill that gap and make sure there is appreciation of our products locally," said Bangure.

Bangure said the Showcase Mission, which kicked off with performances in Harare, would become an annual event in order to take the young artistes' music countrywide before "exporting" it onto the international front.

"One of our goals is to go out in full force across the nation's 10 provinces in promoting and bringing to the people the talents of various Music Crossroads bands through the Showcase Mission" said the MCZ director.

Mokoomba continues raking in the awards and their album "Rising Tide" was one of the best on the international scene last year receiving rave reviews in critical world music journals like The Guardian UK, Songlines UK, Vibrations, Afropop Worldwide, to mention a few.

The album was also in the top 20 of the World Music Charts Europe for more than five months and getting regular airplay on almost every continent.

Bangure believes that Mokoomba, given their recent exploits, should now not only be household name but be accorded an ambassadorial role as they continue to do a sterling job in promoting all that is beautiful about Zimbabwe.

"There is no real value in bestowing such an honour on someone who is not Zimbabwean like we did with US artiste Joe Thomas who does not know much about our culture and music," he said.

The six-member Mokoomba outfit hails from the resort town of Victoria Falls, acknowledged by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, but were conspicuous by their absence from the Tourism Night held in October and the recent Victoria Falls Carnival.

Bangure believes Mokoomba should be appointed tourism ambassadors not only for Victoria Falls but for the country as a whole

"The Showcase Mission seeks to show just how serious we are in our endeavour to develop and promote artistes to match international standards," he said.

Bangure is justifiably proud of Mokoomba's record-breaking feats, but he also speaks glowingly of Music Crossroads Zimbabwe's other products. These include Munyaradzi Munodawafa (who won the Coca-Cola Top 50 gospel in 2012), Progress Chipfumo, First Farai, Amara Brown, Romeo Gasa and Extra Valembe, Leeroy Kamusena, Prudence Mabhena and Bongo Love.

Bongo Love has the distinction of performing to a full house at the world famous Madison Square Garden in New York.

Inter-Regional Festival runners-up in 2006, Liyana, fronted by Prudence Mabhena (who is now pursuing a solo career in South Africa) brought home an Oscar Award in February 2010 for a documentary titled "Music by Prudence" and went on to feature on the Oprah Winfrey Show.

Gwarimba, Club Shanga and Mokoomba, who are on a nationwide tour with the Showcase Mission, won the Music Crossroads at national level before going on to raise the country's flag high at regional and international level.

Meanwhile, plans for the 17th edition of the Music Crossroads are at an advanced stage.

Music Crossroads' goal, Bangure said, was to unleash onto the Zimbabwe and international stage as many Mokoombas as possible.

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