Television personality Oscar Pambuka’s last major event as the patron of the Zimdancehall awards turned out to be a disaster as this year’s ceremony was snubbed by the genre’s big names.
By Kennedy Nyavaya
The Zimdancehall awards, the brainchild of Phineas Mushayi, were held in Harare on Thursday night after the organisers failed to put up the event in the first quarter of 2017.
Pambuka was forced to step in through his company, Oscar Pambuka Productions (OPP), but his intervention failed to save the situation after the genre’s cream stayed away.
The ZTV presenter told The Standard Style that Soul Jah Love and Seh Calaz, who were billed as the drawcards for the event, had other engagements.
“They were committed at other shows where they are performing tonight [Thursday] and Soul Jah Love communicated that he would not be around today, but would attend the after party, which is also the case with Seh Calaz,” Pambuka said.
Other big names in Zimdancehall who did not show up were Kinnah, Hwindi President, Freeman and Guspy Warrior. There was no explanation for their absence.
Veteran Zimdancehall producer Arnold Kamudyariwa said it had become a trend that most big names snubbed the awards.
“What big artistes have done today is what they used to do before,” he said.
“I think the previous promoter used to be scolded too, with some saying the awards did not add financial value, among other things; but when they do not attend like this, it is a disadvantage to us.”
Kamudyariwa, popularly known as Fantan, said the lack of support from the big artists was not good for the genre.
“We are now worried about whether or not the promoter will host the awards next time,” he said. “So we do not encourage what the big artistes have done but to those who have come to support, we give thanks.”
The non-appearance of the big names, which some guests suggested was a show of no confidence by the artists in the awards, was not the only sore point on Thursday night.
The set up at the ceremony was below standard and there was controversy when at least two people were given the same award in some categories.
However, Pambuka defended the awards system, saying the judges had seen it fit to award more than one artist.
“According to the judges who came up with the list, the two would have been equally good. I was not judging but merely hosting the awards,” he said. “The perception about the awards [being chaotic] needs to be corrected [because] it has been marred with controversy.”
Apart from the absence of the standard glitz and glamour associated with awards globally, artistes merely got certificates for their efforts.
Pambuka, who is also a dancehall chanter, believes all the mistakes he failed to correct in his five-year term as patron of the awards, can be solved by his successor.
“It is paramount for new ideas to come through maybe strategies differ [but] going forward, a new person should take over as patron of the Zimdancehall awards,” he said.
“A board needs to be created and the artistes should also form alliances because only unity can take them forward.”
Meanwhile, this year’s edition saw Soul Jah Love and Kadja being crowned King and Queen of Zimdancehall, with rising chanters Jah Signal, Silent Killer and Blot adding to the list of regular winners.