Iyasa celebrates 2 decades in showbiz

INTERNATIONALLY-traveLled and acclaimed Bulawayo arts group, Inkululeko Yabatsha School of Arts (Iyasa) director Nkululeko Innocent Dube has said the 20-year journey in the music industry has been a learning curve for the group and him as a leader.

BY NKULULEKO SIBANDA

Dube, a teacher by profession, said this to NewsDay Life & Style as the group celebrated its two decades in the showbiz industry with a performance at a packed Amphitheatre auditorium in Bulawayo.

“The last 20 years have not been easy for me as Nkululeko Innocent Dube and also as a director of Iyasa. The time has been one where we have learnt a lot of things from here at home and abroad,” he said.

“It has also been a period that has been a roller coaster, where we have had more ups than downs, which have given us a good reason to keep going and producing acts for our audiences.”

He said Iyasa had outgrown being a group that belonged to one person, but had become an institution that had given birth to many artistes who have gone to make it both locally and abroad.

“We have discovered that Iyasa has become an incubation hub, where we have developed artists, nurtured them, and when they become fully grown, we have allowed them to fly and flourish in other spheres of the arts sector,” he said.

Some of the names that have been born within the Iyasa stable include Sandra Ndebele, Nomathamsanqa Mkhwananzi, now known as Nkwali in the arts circles, and Future Sibanda, among others.

Dube reiterated the need for the corporate world to support the group as well as the arts sector, saying such a symbiotic relationship is what the arts and creative sectors in Zimbabwe need to fully realise their potential.

“We have a challenge where government and the corporate world believe we are benefiting from them. We are of the view that government and the corporate world can also benefit from the arts sector,” he said.

“We need them to also come on board so that together, we can realise the dream of making the arts sector a marvel for the world.”

Meanwhile, on New Year’s night, as part of the celebrations, the group put up a spirited show that brought the house down.

The show proved why the group has maintained its spot as one of the most sought-after arts ensemble from the country’s second largest city.

In the years, Bulawayo has been the runaway hub of the arts industry in Zimbabwe, earning itself the tag “the melting pot for the arts industry”.

For the ordinary showgoer, the electrifying show that the Dube-led group (Iyasa) put up will stand out as a tip of the iceberg of what to expect in the arts in Bulawayo this year.

Rarely do families come out as a unit to witness such an amazing show, which left arts enthusiasts asking for more, and on the edge of their seats.

While in most instances the first set or piece of a musical or theatre show is the one that puts the spectator on or off and gives them an idea of what to expect, for Iyasa on the night, their opening act became an appetiser that made the show a must-watch for many.

Kicking off with the song Emoriva by South African outfit Iphintombi, the smart and colourfully dressed Iyasa exhibited their nimble-footedness and exuberance as they kicked off their performances at a memorable night.

One of the highlights of the show came as the group tantalised the crowd with an act from a song originally done by music icon, Tina Turner, entitled What’s Love Got to Do with It.

Standing out was the main lead in the particular act, Buhlebenkosi Sibanda, whose black outfit from top to bottom, brightened by glittering buttons, was just what the doctor had ordered, danced and gyrated like there was no tomorrow, leaving the crowd in awe and appreciation.

The Soul Brothers’ Ogandanganda hit took the show to a higher gear as the all-boys Iyasa outfit drove the crowd into hysteria with their dance routines.

Before the crowd could recover from cloud nine, an all-girls outfit, dressed in beautiful designer suits that fitted them well, invaded the stage and took the show another notch up, much to the excitement of the crowd, made up mostly of mature adults who connected well with the music.

The two other outstanding acts, among a host of others, on the night that became one of the group’s productions and a national anthem in Bulawayo’s suburbs, was S’jaiva Sibancane and the re-make of the comic Baby Cry, which was played by a hilarious Nqobizitha Ncube.

The act was a marvel to watch as Ncube, clad in baby diapers and a black skin tight, left the crowd in stitches with his antics, which emulated a wailing baby.

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