THE coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which has seen most countries across the globe locking down their borders to minimise the risk of spread, has messed up local artiste Willis Wataffi international tours.
BY FREEMAN MAKOPA
Echoing sentiments expressed by several other local musicians, Wataffi said the outbreak had underlined the need for artistes to have several streams of income to cushion them in austere times.
“COVID-19 has affected mostly my international tours and shows; that’s where my bread is buttered,” he said.
With public gatherings having been banned courtesy of the lockdown, the music industry, whose players thrive on gathering crowds during shows, is among the hardest hit.
“Artistes all over the world among other people are suffering during this time because most of us work for ourselves,” Wataffi said.
“Locally we don’t have a sustainable music industry to talk about. So it’s suffer continue for artists here because we have always been at the bottom of the goods chain. If given the opportunity, chance and blessings artists need to start many more strings of income other than music.”
Although local musicians have been accused of failing to invest their profits at the peak of their careers as part of establishing a fall-back plan, Wataffi said the local music industry did not offer such opportunities as yet.
“Zimbabwe has not arrived at a time and place where artistes can make a living off their gifts and talents,” he said.
The award-winning musician said such a trajectory would only been with government’s recognition of music as an industry.
Wataffi said when done properly, the music industry could be a major contributor to economic development and growth, as has happened in a lot of western countries.
“The powers-that-be need to maybe start recognising us as a viable industry that can bring a huge rise in our GDP. Look at the Irish Group U2, it’s been for the longest time the biggest foreign currency earner for that country — a music group imagine,” he said.
Wataffi said the majority of local musicians were self-employed and therefore did not have guaranteed incomes during the lockdown.
“Artists all over the world among other people are suffering during this time because most of us work for ourselves,” he said.
Wataffi, however, said he was using music to carry out awareness campaigns on COVID-19, which has continued to wreak havoc, killing thousands of people across the world after breaking out in China’s Wuhan Province late last year.
Last month, Wataffi scooped the Outstanding Album award for his latest album, Uhuru, in a surprise win that stunned the audience at this year’s edition of the annual National Arts Merit Awards organised by the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe.
The Afro-jazz musician’s Uhuru had been nominated together with Freeman’s Gango.