A closer look on the showbiz calendar as the year draws to an end shows that celebrated Jamaican artistes, Lutan Fyah and Morgan Heritage, are billed to perform in the country on Unity Day’s eve at the Harare International Conference Centre, courtesy of David House.
Local artistes who are expected to be part of this show include the Chillspot family that houses the likes of Enzo Ishall and Bazuka. Soul Jah Love, Gary B, Templeman and Abisha Palmer, will be on the turntables.
Zimbabwe has undoubtedly become a favourite performing ground for foreign artistes, but local music promoters seem to forget that charity begins at home. They don’t find it difficult to handsomely pay foreign superstars, and in scarce foreign currency too, but tend to throw a bag of bones to the local artistes, in local currency.
Since the country dollarised in 2009 and now that Zimbabwe is “open for business”, if we are to borrow from President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s mantra, the coming of these international artistes might be celebrated by music fans, but to local supporting acts, it will probably be only a celebration of rubbing their shoulders with these legends without anything to show for it in monetary terms.
Many, if not all foreign artistes, return home with healthy bank balances while such shows appear to be of no benefit to local musicians who usually perform as curtain raisers for peanuts, because they are simply attracted by the idea of rubbing shoulders with renowned international artistes. And they have to make do with whatever bone the promoter throws their way.
As a way of celebrating our own, music promoters must at least start to appreciate local talent by also paying them “enough” for one to make a living, than creating the impression that those foreign acts are more important.
A number of local artistes are on record and have complained that local music promoters give international artistes preferential treatment, even when some of these visitors perform dismally and have to rely on the energetic performances from the local talent pool to save their shows.
Local artistes should get equal treatment with their foreign counterparts. If the foreign contingents are booked into five-star hotels, the same should be done for our local artistes.
This segregation must come to an end and promoters must start to appreciate their own ahead of these foreign artistes, who are just flocking to Zimbabwe to collect outrageous amounts for very little work.
Only a fortnight ago, dancehall kingpin Winky D outclassed Nigerian singer Mr Eazi at the much-hyped Ammartia Ignite concert; the foreign superstar putting a subdued performance that disappointed many of his Zimbabwean fans at the packed Glamis Arena in Harare.