It was a small fish affair at the just ended 18th edition of National Arts Merit Awards (NAMA) after big names in the local music industry including Alick Macheso, Jah Prayzah, ExQ and Winky all snubbed the award ceremony held in Harare.
The no shows by the traditional 'big five' minus the late Oliver Mtukudzi raised eyebrows on the once glamorous event and its importance to the arts industry.
In an interview with 263Chat, organizers of the event, National Arts Council of Zimbabwe were quick to highlight that NAMA is a closed, strictly by invitation event while indicating that those who did not show up had not been invited.
"NAMA is by invitation and the first invitations go to the nominees. We had 105 nominees and each one of them got two tickets to make them 210 out of a total of 500 people we planned to accommodate.
"From the 500 expected attendees, 200 of the seats were being sold because we needed to raise money to run the event, the rest was reserved for corporates and sponsors. Looking at that mathematics it is not that they did not come, they were not invited," said National Arts Council of Zimbabwe Director Nicholas Moyo.
However, Moyo could not explain why nominees including Alick Macheso, ExQ and Jah Prayzah who had been nominated for outstanding album, outstanding male musician and outstanding music video respectively did not show up as well.
NAMA has over the years earned a reputation for pulling surprises with some of the nominees and winners raising eyebrows among showbiz followers.
In the just-ended edition, social media went ablaze questioning the adjudicators for awarding gospel diva Mai Patai with people's choice gong ahead of "Mebo" singer Obert Chari and Baba Harare and Winky D whose songs made.