26 February 2013

Zimbabwe: My Apologies to Byo Folk

My article of February 5, 2013 entitled "Moving Nama to Bulawayo is a farce!" seemed to have stirred a hornets' nest as a lot of vitriol was poured by some members of the public against that view. Comments about the article transcended unnecessarily into a political orgy which distracted attention from the real issues involved.

Some people began to take my views personally and began calling me all sorts of names. As I have always emphasised in my writings, I know more about music than politics. I still stand by this statement today.

Many journalists tell me that the secret of successful journalism is to make your readers so angry that they will write half your next column for you. That was not my intention.

However, as it turned out, this became the case in view of the amount of vitriol poured on me. Here are some of the comments that came from the readers before Nama took place which I will quote verbatim:

Joel Mulungisi says: "You people in Harare are arrogant, what makes you think that Harare is more special than Bulawayo? That is really stupid."

Silenkosi Ndlovu thinks: "Ha ha ha, typical Shonas. Good thing the Matabeleland water project did not take off, because if it had, the water would have been diverted to Harare as soon as it reached Hwange."

Another punter, Edward Mabhena, said: "That is stupid thinking, you should give Bulawayo a chance and see what we can do for you. You cannot let everything happen in Harare. Very soon you are going to want ZITF moved to Harare. Harare is a disaster, I tell you."

Yet another one from John Mha-mbi: "Fred, I have always respected you and enjoyed reading your articles but this time you have written nonsense."

Someone who calls himself Umkhonto 99 had this to say: "This is precisely the attitude we will not tolerate. Bulawayo was once a vibrant city and a live centre of arts. This Hararenisation of Zimbabwe is by no means economic. Stop hiding behind a finger.

"Currently, you have all of your six so-called national radio stations based in Harare with all of them seeming to agree that Ndebele news comes after other news. Sadly, even pirate radio stations like Studio 7 have also adopted such unfortunate approaches. Let the awards come to Bulawayo if you agree that Bulawayo is part of Zimbabwe. Ongafuniyo kayekele."

And another one from Douglas Mkhize: "I used to have lots of respect for Professor Zindi, but this article brings into question how he became a professor in the first place? I bet my last dollar that his papers were obtained from some fake American online university in three months - Jokes aside (I notice he has a good sense of humour!) The issues you have raised answer one question why the Republic of Mthwakazi should be a neighbouring state to the Republic of Zimbabwe - in your very own words you say nothing much is happening outside Harare and Harare is national.

Your mindset seems to be saying that things become national only if they are in Harare, and if outside Harare then it's small town affair! It's a pity and shame upon you, maybe you should take a leaf from other genuine professors like Jonathan Moyo, Welshman Ncube, Mthuli Ncube and Ngwabi Bhebhe, just to name a few - l hope you are not poisoning kids at the UZ with your rubbish attitude!"

I take this criticism wholeheartedly. I will not bother to print the positive comments as they will only insense those who were offended by my article further.

A free Press can, of course, be good or bad, but certainly without the freedom to express one's opinion, it can never be anything but bad. Differences in opinion must therefore be respected.

Indeed, I was sceptical about Nama happening in Bulawayo, not for political reasons, but mainly for financial reasons. Over the years the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe has been bombarding the public about their inability to do anything for the artistes due to lack of resources.

I therefore did not see any scope in moving the event to Bulawayo without resources as it meant paying extra for transportation and accommodation for the majority of Nama nominees and winners who were coming from Harare.

However, as it turned out, the event in Bulawayo was a success. Artistes such as Oliver Mtukudzi, who was the guest of honour on the awards night, helped to raise funds for the event. A number of Bulawayo-based corporate institutions also assisted in making the event a success story.

Large City Hall was filled to the brim and several people had to watch the event from outside as it was being beamed on the large screens which were erected outside the hall.

ZBC also carried the event to households throughout the country since the event was also being screened live on television. On this glorious Saturday night, Tuku's presence as guest of honour was felt by everyone as they gave him such a positive reaction which was punctuated with a standing ovation.

Sulumani "Batai Munhu" Chimbetu was the biggest winner of the night after snagging all three awards he was up for. I am informed that Alick Macheso did not submit anything to be entered for Nama this year as he did not have a new album released during the period in question.

Hope Masike, who won in the best female musician category, had this to say, " The experience gave me a rainbow of emotions and if I had known I was going to win, I would have prepared my speech better.

"However, I was pleased to rub shoulders with the likes of Ministers David Coltart and Lazarus Dokora from the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture. David Coltart has such an infectious smile."

The 12th Nama Awards ceremony in Bulawayo a.k.a the City of Kings, will be remembered as a story of eventful and glorious moments. The event was professionally executed.

There were no hiccups except in a minor incident where there was confusion between the master of ceremony and the Mayor of Bulawayo.

Celebrities present included Peter Ndlovu, Supa Mandiwanzira, Kimble Rodgers, Love Johns, Cont Mhlanga and Miss Zimbabwe 2010.

Spot-on performances were conducted by groups which included Jeys Marabhini, Khuxman, Saani Makhalima, Willis Watafi, Tehn Diamond and Junior Brown.

All these artistes thrilled the enthusiastic and supportive crowd.

Before the ceremony began, on seeing how smoothly the organisation of the event was going, I asked Elvas Mari, the director of the National Arts Council, and Nicholas Moyo, the National Arts Council's deputy director, how they felt the event would go.

Both were not sure what answer to give me as they seemed scared of my critical pen. Nicholas later said to me: "As you can see, I am under a lot of pressure to make this thing a success."

Indeed credit must be given where it is due. The National Arts Council and the people of Bulawayo worked hard to make the 12th Nama a success. After the event, I spoke to Dr Thokozile Chitepo, the chairperson of the National Arts Council board, who seems to have a strong passion for the arts and takes her responsibilities very seriously. I congratulated her on the successful hosting of the event.

Her response was: "Fred, your article was very damaging. You could have written it better. I wonder what you are going to write this time, now that you have seen it for yourself?"

Next to her was Dr Sikhanyiso "Duke" Ndlovu who retorted: "Wena U Zindi, you nearly got me into trouble in Bulawayo. There was a public outcry about your pre-Nama article. The people of Bulawayo were not impressed at all."

I jokingly responded by saying: "You guys are responsible for drafting the constitution of Zimbabwe. Has freedom of expression been thrown out the window in the new constitution?"

Then came Cont Mhlanga, who gave his justification on why Nama should remain in Bulawayo. "Zindi, it is not because I am tired or too old to come to Harare, but each time I come to Harare and go on the stage, then give my speech in Ndebele, everyone boos, showing contempt of the Ndebele language, but you see, when Oliver Mtukudzi gave his speech to the Bulawayo crowd, it was all in Shona and the crowd ululated and even gave him a standing ovation. It is because we people in Bulawayo are more cultured than the people in Harare."

That may be true, but Cont must have forgotten that earlier on, the same crowd had booed Dr Chitepo for giving what they thought was too long a speech.

They only clapped when she announced that Oliver Mtukudzi was coming on stage.

Looking back now, I was probably too harsh on the those who are passionate about Bulawayo. I apologise.

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