Successful and outstanding artists will this week receive their due recognition at the National Arts Merit Awards (Nama) ceremony slated for Large City Hall in Bulawayo.
Drum Beat with Godwin Muzari
The awards have become an important juncture in most artists’ lives and many have realised big dreams through winning the awards or mere nomination.
The awards are in their 12th year but, like many events, they are still to reach perfection for various reasons.
Organisers released the list of nominees early last week and already, critics have started hammering the adjudicators for failing to do justice in some categories.
While some critics just take aim at the organisers as a tradition, the adjudicators should accept blame for erring in some categories on the current list.
Obviously, many eyes will be on the music genre which is the most popular genre locally. Every year, fiercest battles in the awards ceremony centre on music.
In the Outstanding Female Musician category, the name Plaxedes Wenyika should have come as a surprise to many. What has she really done to deserve the nomination? To most music followers, she would be described as a “forgotten” musician.
Despite releasing an album recently, she has not made any considerable mark to be named as one of the outstanding female musicians in the country.
Even Cindy Munyavi, who is in the same category, does not have any notable achievements to the general public. The surprise omission in the category is Agatha Murudzwa who did considerably well last year.
Although she did not have a good show at the Unity Gala in December (well after the awards’ cut-off period), she did well with her album Press On and she fared well at various other shows.
In the Outstanding Male Musician category, Sniper, Nox and Sulumani Chimbetu are the nominees. While I respect the popularity of Nox’s track Ndinonyara (which was befittingly nominated in the Outstanding Song Category), there is not much that the young and promising musician has done.
He has been outstanding at a number of local shows but the category is too heavy for him. Jah Prayzah would not have been a misfit in this category.
Although Jah Prayzah’s song is nominated in the Outstanding Song Category, the youthful musician deserved more recognition than just for one song.
Those that followed live shows last year would agree that Jah Prayzah was outstanding and should have been in contention of the Outstanding Male Musician award.
‘ADJUDICATORS TO CAST NETS WIDER’
In theatre, it seems every year the genre is limited to a few production houses. Community theatre is still alive and some venues have sprouted in the country.
Some plays that are showcased at various festivals are also good but over the years it has been an affair between Rooftop Promotions, Amakhosi Productions and Reps Theatre.
These houses host many plays each year but the adjudicators should cast their nets wider for emerging talent.
It is also not clear how long the play Stitsha will be on the awards list. It is an old play that has been made a television production and revisited several times yet we have Zenzo Nyathi going for the Outstanding Actor award for this revised play. This is likely to kill creativity.
Considering the coming of new radio stations, it is not clear why the adjudicators could not get any nominees for the Outstanding Journalist from Radio. Are they all that bad?
May the best artistes win
Another surprising inclusion in the music genre is Blessing Shumba’s album Shongwe in the Outstanding Album category.
Shumba is a talented musician but last year was just not his year. Although his close competitor, Mathias Mhere, would not have made it to the list because of controversy surrounding his song Favour, there was need for a better replacement for Shumba on the list. Nicholas Zakaria’s album Kurapa Nemazwi is doing better.
Maybe the adjudicators confined themselves to submitted entries but they always claim to have monitors that watch activities on the arts scene throughout the year.
Special mention goes to Sniper and Cyril Sadat Sanhewe for three nominations each for good products. We hope the awards go to deserving artistes on Saturday night.