WHILE the United Kingdom seems to have become a second home for many local musicians who are “stampeding” to stage shows in that country, scandals involving some music promoters based there and the visiting artistes who end up getting stranded are worrying.
BY WINSTONE ANTONIO
Boarding a plane off to the Queen’s land for some artistes is seen as a golden chance to perform on the global stage and reach a wider market, but the consequences for some are often heart breaking as they end up stranded when dealing with dodgy promoters.
Some arts observers have attested that the music industry in the UK Zimbabwe community is flooded with several fake and wanna-be promoters who are mere chancers or hustlers only concerned with lining their pockets at the expense of artistes.
On several occasions they are reports of promoters failing to honour their contractual agreements with the artistes, with reports of them disappearing and switching off their phones shortly after the show leaving the artistes stranded in a foreign land.
The fraud has been used against both established and rising musicians.
When United States-based Chimurenga music icon Thomas Mapfumo travelled to South Africa last year for two shows, the promoters reportedly failed to pay him as promised, claiming the show had been a flop.
Sources close to the musician said Mukanya’s backing band, which comprised of instrumentalists and vocalists from Harare, was not remunerated as promised, getting a measly R500 +and being made to travel by bus from Cape Town to Harare.
There have also been reports that some dancehall musicians were paid as little as $100 per show with some ending up stranded after dealing with “dubious” music promoters.
Speaking at the launch of Culture Week in Chinhoyi last year, Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko took a swipe at arts promoters who always get away with the lion’s share leaving artistes wallowing in poverty.
Just early this week, seven local musicians, including dancehall chanters Ras Caleb, Don Gaga, Lipsy, Diana Samkange, Drum Dada, Hollipah D and Progress Chipfumo, were stranded in the United Kingdom after promoters of The One Nation, One People tour, Shelton Sitima and Lady Bimma, allegedly bolted on them without paying their performance fees or even paying for the return flights despite having fulfilled all their shows.
Promoters of the tour, Afrodayz Productionz, are alleged to have received a grant from Sheffield Council to host the tour since it was part of a cultural exchange programme, but decided not to pay for the rendered service.
This is not the first time that Zimbabwean musicians have fallen prey to crooked music promoters in foreign lands.
Urban groover Roki once got stranded in Malaysia while dancehall artiste King Shaddy was also marooned in the UK.
Dendera ace Sulumani Chimbetu in 2011 cut short his Non-Stop Tour in the UK after a nightmarish four days in England after he was duped and swindled of some money by a UK-based music promoter, Arthur Janjawa, whom he described as a crook upon his return home.
Janjawa is alleged to have started making some strange arrangements requesting Sulu to play in little bars in the UK which was not part of the contract, forcing the Dendera ace to cancel the tour.
A similar incident had also occurred in 2006, when Sulu was stranded while touring the UK with his uncle, Alan Chimbetu, who had taken charge of his late father Simon’s Ochestra Dendera Kings band.
In 2013 a UK promoter, Afrostars, put Mukanya through a nightmare after failing to pay him for his services. Mukanya had arrived in the country on May 23 only to discover that the promoter had not even made his hotel bookings and he ended up being tossed from one lodge to another.
In 2014, Prince Kudakwashe Musarurwa and Pah Chihera fired a salvo at music promotion company Y2K Promotions in the UK for advertising a “bogus” show dubbed Tuku Tribute and Friends Concert that was slated for Leicester without signing contracts with the artistes.
Local music promoter Partson “Chipaz” Chimbodza of Chipaz Promotions said it was important for local artistes to understand their contracts before embarking on international tours.
“Before travelling to a foreign land, an artiste must make sure he is happy and satisfied with a clear itinerary, not to get overwhelmed because he or she will be flying to perform in a foreign land,” he said.
“It is even wiser for them to insist on an advance payment of half their performance fee, have their return tickets with them and receive their per diem allowance before travelling for the shows. This gives them an upper hand and at list they will not get stranded if anything happens along the way.”
Chimbodza, who has brought several foreign acts into the country, said in Zimbabwe there have been no reports of foreign artistes getting stranded because they (artistes) know their worth and insist on sound contracts.
Jive Zimbabwe director Benjamin Nyandoro said many young artistes were the biggest prey because they would be over-excited at the opportunity of performing in a foreign land.
“Such incidents are a phase, an experience that artistes especially from a humble background will always have. It then calls for a tough decision, not to compromise on terms, or dive,” he said.
Although the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe is not involved in artistes’ foreign performances, local fans said it would be good for the mother body to assist the artistes by assessing credible foreign promoters with traceable records.