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NAMA awards raise stink

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ACCORDING to the Free Online Dictionary, credible means:  capable of being believed; plausible, worthy of confidence or reliable.

Cliff Chiduku

However, for the purpose of this article, credibility will be defined as “capable of being believed.”

This is in relation is to the 13th edition of the National Arts Merit Awards (Nama) which were held on Saturday in Bulawayo.
The Nama awards are held annually to recognise and honour the admirable work of artistes from various categories – literary arts, visual arts, music, theatre, dance, media, spoken word and film.
The awards have come and gone, but the nominees and the eventual winners have left followers puzzled.

The awards are held as a means of encouraging creativity and excellence in the arts industry. They also provide an opportunity for artistes to market and publicise the artworks locally, regionally and internationally.

This year’s edition was held under the theme Unite, Excite and Educate Zimbabwe on its proud heritage and diversity through arts and culture.

For an artiste to be nominated for this year’s awards, their work should have been created between December 1, 2012 and November 30, 2013.

However, many observers believe that some of the nominees did not excel in the period under review and obviously casting doubt the awards being a true reflection of the industry at the moment.

In the music category, Olivia Charamba won the outstanding female musician. Observers would ask why Mai Charamba was on the nominee list and became the eventual winner when she has not released an album in a couple of years?

Did the Rute hit maker “create” anything in the period under review?
The National Arts Council of Zimbabwe acting director Nick Moyo told our sister paper, Southern Eye that a different criterion is used in each category.

“People need to know that each category has different criteria. In this case, releasing an album in the year under review does not make you a winner. Other things to look for are the presence or visibility of an artiste during the year like how many shows that artiste held during the year.”

Jeys Marabini was nominated for the Outstanding Male Musician category, but the question is what was outstanding about him? The truth is that Marabini is no longer a force to reckon with in Zimbabwe, let alone in Bulawayo.

Marabini’s last album Jeys@40 was recorded in South Africa in 2011 and was released in 2012. Marabini used to be a force to reckon with in Zimbabwe, but of late he has been neglecting local fans to concentrate on international engagements.

Terrence Mapurisana questioned why he was nominated for the outstanding journalist (television) award when he had not submitted his work for consideration.

“On February 5, 2014 Nick Moyo of the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe said they had an overwhelming 664 entries across categories for the 13th edition of the Nama awards.

“Now how is that possible that I didn’t submit any of my works yet I found my name on the nominees list? Was that a miracle nomination, I shudder to wonder?” Mapurisa wrote on the social network site Facebook.

“Indeed there is a need for some investigation,” added Mapurisana.
Where is Sabhuku Vharazipi in all this?

Chido Mutoro of Warren Park had no kind words for the organisers saying: “It seems the awards are now being held as a formality. There is nothing to do with merit.

“It seems there are scores that are being scored and personal agendas are being pursued. I, for one, have since stopped following them.”

Questioned Mutoro: “How can they leave out the very popular comedian David Mubaiwa or Sabhuku Vharazipi in any of the categories?”
Mubaiwa is the man who plays the role of Sabhuku Vharazipi in the hilarious drama Sabhuku Vharazipi, whose comic acts have reached a level of transforming people’s lives, especially those who are in rural areas.

Another observer who refused to be named said: “As long as there are no national selectors who can see the artistes in performance, exhibition and who visit institutions and production houses to determine the quality of their work or impact of their artistic programmes, what is then presented as excellent artistic products or achievements will be subjective, making the whole awards a farce.”

This is not the first time that the awards have raised dust as last year there was an outcry when Sulumani Chimbetu emerged the biggest winner at the 12th Nama edition after he grabbed a hat-trick at an awards ceremony also held in Bulawayo.

The Orchestra Dendera Kings frontman won the Outstanding Male Musician, Outstanding Album for Syllabus and the most coveted People’s Choice Award which is decided by popular vote on the day of the awards.

The fact that Sulu’s album was released mid-November in 2012 and the closing date for submissions was Nov 30, 2012 triggered all sorts of questions.

Though there is a committee responsible for the NAMA selection process which consists of experts in all the fields targeted for the awards, what puzzled many was the selection of Sulu as the best male musician and for the best album award.

Jah Prayzah, who was the biggest winner this year – is no doubt one of the best musicians at the moment.

Many have respect for the man because of the creativity he brings especially on stage is second to none.

Credibility is usually based on words and actions. With the above irregularities and inconsistences the “believability” of one of Zimbabwe’s premier arts awards is being thrown into the air.

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