Just like all things under the Covid-19 pandemic, the 20th edition of National Arts Merit Awards (Nama) scheduled for February 27 next year is characterised by special features that the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ) and its event planners Jacaranda Culture and Media Entertainment (JCMC) announced on Thursday.
By Kennedy Nyavaya
The last eight months have seen artistes, mostly musicians, improvising to continue producing art as everything went virtual due to various government health protocols to curtail the spread of the deadly virus.
This gave birth to online shows, but that was a preserve of those with the capacity to be on the cyber space and actually attract decent viewership.
“While we recognise that some arts disciplines have been able to operate under the stringent lockdown conditions, the whole integrity of Nama stands to be compromised in a situation where there were significant inhibitions to creativity created by the stringent lockdown regulations,” said NACZ director Nicholas Moyo (pictured below).
In light of this NACZ, has postponed the competitive version of the ceremony to a date in February 2022, but will be hosting honorary awards where 40 living legends from different art genres will walk away with gongs for their contribution to the sector since the country’s independence in 1980.
“This will be a unique event in the sense that on the night we shall honour 40 legends as we celebrate 40 years of [the country’s independence,” Moyo said.
“These Legends Awards provide for a strategic postponement of the competitive 20th Nama whose hosting hung in the balance due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns.”
This means that unlike in the past years when the country’s premier arts awards have happened without disturbance, winners will not be picked from entries but will be chosen by an anonymous jury.
Without spelling out the criteria or names within the jury — to avoid canvassing — Moyo described the process as a “clean selection that is to be approved by the board and ministry.”
“The process is going to be long and they (legends) may be many but we are going to give 40 so there is criteria that the arts council and a select team of people, whom we have worked with in the industry as adjudicators, are working on to produce the names,” he said, revealing that the list would be ready a month prior to the ceremony.
The event — themed Our Legacy, Our Pride — will assume a “hybrid format” in which a limited number of guests will join the 40 legends at a venue to be announced while all other interested people would watch online.
“We are planning for a virtual [event], I think as we stand February is just too close for us to plan assuming that the lockdown would have been lifted,” said Moyo.
“So, because it is not pointing at that, we need to plan cognisant of what is prevailing and what is prevailing in many parts of the world is that there are new spikes and there is a new wave, even in Zimbabwe.”