ARTISTES in Bulawayo — a city renowned as the country’s traditional arts and culture hub — have expressed mixed feelings over performances in 2018 and expressed hope of much better prospects this year.
BY SHARON SIBINDI
Iyasa founder, Nkululeko Dube said 2018 started on a brighter note for the industry.
“The first half of the year had a lot of promise and potential. We saw a rise in home grown arts projects and an increase in arts activities, especially at Bulawayo Theatre. The consistent showcasing meant that audiences for local arts consumption grew,” he said.
“Touring groups and musicians also did very well in 2018, and one of my highlights was the recognition of one of our own poets and authors in the city, Philani Nyoni, following his nomination in the African Writers Awards. That was a proud moment for the nation.”
He, however, said the sector’s success was also largely dependent on the economy, meaning a lot of programmes and activities during the course of last year had felt the knock-on-effect of the economic slowdown.
Dube said a number of traditional arts and culture events had to be struck off the calendar as a result.
“When the economy slumped, so did the arts and arts activities. Unfortunately, the number of events, be it self-organised or corporate, took a knock. Evidently the inflow of international acts coming into the country took a knock, with even traditional activities like the Kalawa Homecoming show failing to take off,” he said.
Dube cited the appointment of Nicholas Moyo as the National Arts Council director in 2018 as a positive development, which he believed would inject new life and energy into arts and culture in 2019.
He said the death of illustrious music producer, Joe Maseko, left a huge gap in the music sector that would not be easy to fill.
“We can only hope for better fortunes in 2019, but as long as the economy does not improve, it’s highly unlikely that the artistes will flourish in these conditions,” he said.
Axe-wielding rhumba musician-cum-actor Madlela Skhobokhobo said the arts sector in Bulawayo has been on a growth trajectory, churning out new exciting products from young artistes.
“I had the pleasure of working with young people like Sekolethu, Zhezhingtons and Redbee this past year, and I must say the future is bright in the Bulawayo arts industry. We now have two radio stations that try to promote local content, which is good,” he said.
“I would say let us up local content to 95% and give less attention to South African art that keeps flooding our market. What stifles the growth of our art here is the excessive consumption of South African content. We celebrate them too much as a people, shunning our own people.”
Madlela said it was enough celebrating other people’s talents, as Bulawayo had more than sufficient talent.
“This goes out to people out there, and I say it’s enough. We have celebrated other people’s talent for much too long, and we can’t be a nation which, when it wants to celebrate, it needs people from outside to offer the entertainment when we have our own who can do an equally sterling job,” he said.
“We are here to bring dignity to our arts, and there is a general feeling from my fans that I have, to some extent, abandoned the main focus, which is story-telling through film, hence a desire to go back.”
Madlela said he was planning on re-introducing his acting and drama side of the arts, as he had placed more focus on music.
“We hope more companies will make not only me, but deserving Bulawayo artistes brand ambassadors. Big up to NetOne for showing other companies that it is possible for a Bulawayo artiste to represent a big brand like them,” he said.