THE arts sector in general has remained stagnant with lack of policy formulation and implementation.
The state does not afford art the necessary support and treats the industry likewise. Government feels there is more serious business to commit to than the art sector.
They fail to realise it is an industry by which many family survive on while several economies world-wide benefit from art. As a result budgets are paltry and it is never a priority and offices are often filled with chuff.
Below we look at a few genres and artistes that made news in the year just ended.
Theatre has virtually disappeared from the face of Harare performances owing to lack of support from different funding partners.
Outside festivals like the Harare International Festival of the Arts there is little or no theatre to talk about save for a few individuals like Tafadzwa Muzondo, Leeroy Gono and of course the Bulawayo thespians that have remained resolute.
Muzondo and Gono respective productions Demolishing Democracy and The Greyman’s Experiment are obvious hits.
Daves Guzha — The long awaited re-opening of Theatre in the Park is yet to come to pass. Its closure two years ago has significantly dwindled Harare theatre performances.
He has produced a handful of shows this year among them Juju soccer, a play written by Stephen Chifunyise. The play that Guzha doubles as an actor and director is a big yawn and there appears to be a lot of gaps in his performance both as an actor and director as well as the script. Even the great effort by Mandla Moyo and Teddy Mangawa fails to redeem the play.
Thabani Moyo — The Bulawayo based theatre enthusiast disappointed many with a brilliant adaptation of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman that he presented at this year’s edition of the Protest Arts International Festival.
The bulk of the presentation was spot on yet he failed to just acknowledge that the play was an adaptation.
For anyone that have not watched or read the original play The Civil Servant is a brilliant play yet everything changes when one realises that it is another writer’s intellectual property. Whether or not Moyo thought he would get away with it is anyone’s guess.
Minority arts including poetry have been the most vibrant this year with. Book Café’s Poetry Slam and other spoken word programs made notable progress outside festivals.
Stand-up comedy is arguably the biggest winner in the 2014 arts calendar year. Comedians have managed to strike new deals with some getting the chance to perform on new stages. Carl Joshua Ncube has continued with his aggressive branding and marketing that has seen him perform alongside Nigeria’s Basketmouth in Australia and also embarking on a national tour.
Doc Vikela’s Trust Me I am a Doctor managed to get him to a new level and he has shown a great degree of development while Clive Chigubu remains one of the most assertive comedians.
For some reason music is one of the most underrated genres of art. Previously anyone felt they had a license to comment and critique music “authoritatively”; yet now it even worse with the emergence of backyard studios.
These have made sure the role of the gatekeeper has diminished. Anything and everything can be recorded. And everyone has become a music producer. That has been the case with local music and that has somewhat exacerbated the situation.
To concentrate on the misses would require a whole series of articles.
Tocky Vibes — Tocky is arguably the biggest winner of local music shooting to fame in the space of a few months. But interestingly he also qualifies to be the biggest miss as he messed up lifetime chances on several occasions with unsatisfactory performances. The latest being at the Lockdown Gig that pitied South Africa’s Mafikizolo, Oliver Mtukudzi and Alexio Kawara. Tocky appears to be in dire need for mentoring so that he can migrate from being a studio artiste to a performer as live performances are the only means of survival for local musicians.
Melusi Khumalo — He is virtually unknown and only has a single album to his name, but appears to be poised for greater things. He recently released his single Mambo Jesu off his forthcoming album Reflections that is due in April. The new track can easily make it as one of the best gospel tracks for Zimbabwe in 2014 while the quality of the jazz has not been heard in Zimbabwe before.
Shingi Mangoma — We tend to run out of words when you refer to this vivacious young lady. She has been churning singles and is due to release her debut album this year.
Shingi is a star in the making gifted with a brilliant voice and a degree of depth in her music. She is not the usual artiste that you will find in Zimbabwe and is destined for the top.
Jah Prayzah and Ammara Brown — This duo is talented in every regard and hard work appears to be paying. They released their duet Kure early last year and it set the bar very high for any new release through-out the year. The video off Jah Prayzah’s Kumbumura Mhute also affirms the track’s quality. For Jah Prayzah, however, it is the recent revelation that he allegedly copied a Ghanaian artiste’s track on his award winning Mwanasikana. That and of course coupled with the failure of his latest album to reach a new standard has made sure the artiste DVD.
Sungura — Apart from the proliferation of Zim dancehall music, many other factors have affected Sungura. There has not been any serious release this year except for Sulumani Chimbetu’s Gunship that is enjoying a free reign without any competition. The genre faces stiff competition in the New Year as they need to redeem themselves. Alick Macheso only made headlines with his numerous court appearances in the divorce fight with estranged wife Fortunate Mapako while he was also aided in that regard by his daughter Sharon who was also in a hurry to get out of her marriage quickie.