Once bitten twice shy, so goes an old adage. Promoters of local Zimdancehall competitions, however, seem to have no regard for this proverb and its connotation.
By Kennedy Nyavaya
One would have expected the petrifying and nearly fatal 2014 Sting Tune for Tune Dancehall contest that left many people seriously injured to serve as a warning why such shows should be abolished, or undertaken under safer circumstances.
However, the organisers seem to be blinkered by the desire to make monetary gains over safety, so abolishing the contest would be prejudicial to their businesses, but something needs to be done to wipe off the now deep-rooted violent behavior.
Last week’s Ghetto vs Ghetto competition was not any better as insolent Zimdancehall youngster Jah Child allegedly snatched the ultimate trophy at the show, prompting a premature end of the event.
The Mbare-bred chanter, widely viewed as a younger version of Soul Jah Love, was quoted in a local tabloid claiming that he took the trophy because he was not happy with the nepotistic judgment process as he had paid his money to enter the competition.
Whatever influence he was under is suspiciously not soberness as he later retracted, saying he was the one who misfired and not the promoter.
Needless to say, the inherent spirit of competition has fuelled animosity among these youngsters and their followers over the years and the Jah Child instance could have resulted in a mass brawl among revellers.
The main objective of such shows is still feeble, because one fact is clear, that none of the participants is ready to swallow the bitter pill of losing and that is always a recipe for violence.
In 2014, prior the gory Sting Tune for Tune Dancehall Contest renowned promoter Patson “Chipaz” Chimbodza was quoted by our sister paper NewsDay, saying they had beefed up security and “preached” peace among revellers.
“We want to end violence and the throwing of cans at dancehall shows. We are going to be engaging relevant stakeholders to achieve this,” Chipaz said then.
The outcome was an unprecedented nasty scene when chanters Soul Jah Love and Seh Calaz turned it into a fist fight, plunging the packed crowd into rampage which had inordinate repercussions.
Both musicians have since resolved their differences and buried the “beef” but it is a different story with some of their followers who have been stuck in that rivalry made to date.
Artists are viewed as icons by many youths and bad blood between them certainly translates to individual fights among fans, which is detrimental to the nation’s peace ethos.
It would do promoters a whole lot of good to not bill divergent chanters at the same events, or rather, do away with competitive words like “versus” and “clash” when they organise such events.
These concepts are clones of some Jamaican divisive music wars which are no good as they have occasionally translated to murders and shootouts among music followers.
Locally, fans will do anything from throwing cans to shouting obscenities in order to express their unhappiness over on a musician from an opposite camp to their favorite and that should end.
As we await an even bigger “clash” at the end of the month, the principle that it is better to be safe than sorry is prudent in helping achieve both growth of Zimdancehall and the spirit of love.
This notion would make it certain that shows are safer, hence attract more fans and definitely put smiles on show promoters’ faces.
It is time the statements “music is a mission, not a competition” should come to play to quell this madness before it results in even more grave occurrences.