Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture minister Makhosini Hlongwane has condemned the assault and harassment of musician Jah Prayzah, saying such rogue behaviour has thwarted the growth of the arts sector.
By Kennedy Nyavaya
Jah Prayzah was attacked at Glen Forest Memorial Park while attending the burial of his former security chief Chris Nyemba. The incident has left uncertainty on the musician’s security and well-being.
In an exclusive interview with The Standard Style on Wednesday, Hlongwane called for civilised ways for conflict resolution.
“I want to condemn the hooliganism, acts of violence meted against one of our illustrious artists Jah Prayzah. This obviously shows that something is wrong with our society. Why do we resort to violence in resolving issues?” he said.
“We must go back to our culture and invest in the processes of traditional dispute resolutions structures. Where there has been misunderstanding between Jah Prayzah and his employees, certainly they must sit down and resolve the issues.”
He said government would not sit back and watch while “our artists are being unnecessarily humiliated”.
“There are laws in this country to arrest any forms of violent behaviour. So, that is the starting point; if you assault somebody, the law must take its course; if you engage in violent behaviour against a citizen, the same should happen,” he added, pledging to take punitive action.
Violent activity against artists has significantly risen in the recent past, especially at live shows and other public spaces.
But local artists, including Jah Prayzah, have often courted controversy for not fairly sharing the spoils with their employees.
In the Kutonga Kwaro singer’s case, that is believed to have resulted in the unprecedented bashing.
Hlongwane said there was need to invest in the improvement of the artists in relations to presentation of their work and professional work ethics if the industry is to realise meaningful growth.
“If they do not have proper structures, then those kinds of things [violence] may also happen, but conversely we must also invest in the fans and supporters who need to accept that shows are family environments and must not engage in violence or try to threaten the artist,” he said.
“This is not the kind of environment that would allow culture sectors to thrive, so we need to change that narrative and we need a moral regeneration programme, reconstruction of traditional structures for dispute resolutions to give our artists the honour, respect and dignity that they deserve.”
While it is uncertain how much more time it will take to bring back decency, especially in the music sphere, artistes have more reason to watch their backs now as the violence is proving to not spare even the most award-winning crooners.
l See minister’s full interview on Page 6.