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Zima should cast its net wider

in the groove:with Fred Zindi

Zimbabwe Music Awards (Zima) chairman and former presidential photographer, Joseph Nyadzayo recently resuscitated the awards event, which was last heard of four years ago. He also announced his new team, which comprises Benjamin Nyandoro, Nancy Ziyambi and his CEO, Reason Sibanda, sometimes referred to as Rizla (that piece of paper in which tobacco, or marijuana, is rolled to make hand-made joints.)
Zima is an annual award ceremony founded in 2003, which acknowledges and honours musical excellence and creativity. It also provides a high profile and multi-faceted celebration of the rich cultural diversity of Zimbabwean music.

At a pre-event media launch held in Harare recently, Sibanda announced 32 entry categories for the music event. Entries for the 32 categories, Sibanda said, will open on November 11 and close on December 31 this year. The show, which has been dubbed Zima 2020, will be adjudicated from January 1 to 10 with the nominees set to be announced on January 11 ahead of the awards ceremony, which was last held in 2016, on January 25.

The top-five awards will be Best Female Artist of the Year, Best Male Artist of the Year, Best Group/Duo of the Year, Best Newcomer of the Year and Best Album of the Year. Most of the musical genres and activities taking place in Zimbabwe have been given a category. These include Zimdancehall, Sungura, Afro-pop, Hip-hop, Contemporary gospel, Traditional gospel, R‘n’B & Soul and Jazz. However, reggae which is still vibrant music in Zimbabwe, is missing from the list.

It must also be noted that gospel is not a genre. Instead of placing contemporary gospel and traditional gospel under the genre category, gospel music should go to Best Contemporary Gospel Artiste and Best Traditional Gospel Artiste respectively. Over the years, I have listened to gospel music being sung in different genres, which include reggae, chimurenga, sungura, Zimdancehall and R‘n’B. The new team should take this into consideration.

If I had been involved in the selection of the nomination categories, I would have ignored the divisive concentration on genres or type of music one plays. That would cut down the number of categories from 32 to half that number. I would then suggest the following:

Artist of the Year, New Artist of the Year, Collaboration of the Year, Tour of the Year, Favourite Music Video, Favourite Social Artist, Favourite Male Artist, Favourite Duo or Group, Favourite Album, Favourite Song, Favourite Male Artist, Favourite Female Artist and Lifetime Award.

Awards in any sector of the arts are a good thing as they not only give the artistes the recognition they deserve, but also encourage them to work even harder.

As the director of the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe, Nicholas Moyo, who was present on the night of the launch put it: “I am happy that Zima is back. Sector awards are detrimental (sic) in the development of the arts. If film had vibrant awards, we would be far. If theatre had awards, we would be far. Similar awards in other arts genres would boost growth.”

With these developments in our local music industry, and the recent emergence of amazing talent across a wide spectrum, Zima is there to salute these musical greats.

Of course, fans will have to wait until the actual award show to see who takes home a trophy. The 2020 Zimas will take place on January 25 at a venue yet to be named. We are not yet certain whether the live show will be broadcast on ZBC but we hope that it will be.

There was a mixture of journalists, music promoters, radio presenters and other artistes at the launch. Notable were Kennedy Nyavaya, Mthandazo Dube, Mathias Bangure, Larry Kwirirayi, Nicholas Moyo, Albert Nyathi and music promoter, Josh Hozheri.

These personalities and other artistes present at the launch expressed concern and said that while they applauded the return of the Zimbabwe Music Awards after four years of absence, the organisers should also give out cash prizes. They cited the lack of cash as a debilitating factor, which prevents some musicians from entering for nomination.

The artistes said they want to be paid meaningful cash prizes that can change their lives and not the pittance they were paid in the past. They said some of them are yet to be presented their awards for Zima 2016.

One artiste said that he hoped that this time around, the organisers of Zima will be more professional as some of the musicians who won in 2016 were still to be presented with their awards. Another said that in 2016, the organisers did not only fail to present her with her award, but had not organised accommodation for her despite promising to do so.

Novuyo Seagirl from Bulawayo, said artistes want meaningful cash prizes and not the little, which was given in the past.

“We want these awards to be life changing for artistes. When I’m talking money, I mean really good money that can help you change your career just like in other countries. You hear that so and so received an award plus US$200 000,” she said.

Seargirl said it was not good enough for winners to walk away with shields to display in their houses. You don’t eat a shield, but given enough money, you will strive to enter the nominations list hoping that you will win and get rewarded. We spend a lot of money in recording studios and doing expensive videos thinking that the end product will give you benefits, but one ends up with just a shield. What for? This message should also be extended to the organisers of the Nama [National Arts Merit Awards].”

We are still yet to see if Zimbabwe’s big artistes will join Zima 2020. Although Zima is currently calling out for entries, it is my conjecture, through my experience as a Nama adjudicator for many years, that some of the big artistes will not bother to enter. Musicians such as Jah Prayzah, Winky D, Ammara Brown and Ex-Q who have been nominated for the AFRIMA awards taking place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia this month are probably looking for international recognition now and might decide against entering local award ceremonies if they are not persuaded. Zima organisers should approach these artistes before the closing date in order for their event to carry weight. Nyandoro, who is responsible for publicity at Zima, is already familiar with these artistes and should make the effort to enter them into Zima 2020.

Jah Prayzah, became the first Zimbabwean to win an MTV African Music Award after scooping the Listeners’ Choice category on October 22, 2016.

In 2017, Jah Prayzah emerged the biggest winner at the Namas in the Most Outstanding Male Musician category.

This year, Jah Prayzah received nominations for his hit song, Dzamutsana from the album Chitubu, which was released in 2018. He has consistently been nominated for the AFRIMA Award in previous years since 2016 for the songs Nziyo Yerudo featuring Yemi Alade from Nigeria, Watora Mari featuring Diamond Platinumz, but is still yet to win an AFRIMA. What will be his perception for Zima, I wonder?

Has the Zima net been cast wide enough? Does every musician in the country know about this event?

In Bulawayo artistes such as Sandra Ndebele and Jays Marabini must be invited to enter if they do not do it on their own.

Mokoomba, a well-travelled group from Victoria Falls who have just completed a 16 countries tour this year is yet another group to be persuaded to join Zima ceremony. This is why I suggest a Tour Of The Year category. They have already won Nama gongs on several occasions .

Other big artistes such as Sulumani Chimbetu, Enzo Ishall, Freeman, Killer T, Souljah Love and Alick Macheso also need to be approached if by December 31, the closing date for Zima, they have not entered.

l Feedback: frezindi@gmail.com

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