BY FREEMAN MAKOPA
ZIMDANCEHALL icon Winky D has disclosed that the country’s music industry was in a serious crisis due to the impact of COVID-19, whose lockdown measures have included the prohibition of public gatherings.
For the majority of musicians in Zimbabwe, public live shows have traditionally been their major income stream.
Winky D’s manager Jonathan Banda said to a greater extent, Zimbabwe was lagging behind in terms of the requisite technology for ideal online shows.
“The development model we all try to follow is what they call modernisation. If you are looking at Zimbabwe, we are trying to catch up, we are trying to replace whatever it is which is in place, the infrastructure technology, and we are still growing in terms of such things that’s the honest truth,” Banda said.
He said the brutal truth revealed by COVID-19 was that artistes were vulnerable.
“This situation has shown us that anything can happen life and there is need to balance a whole lot of things and it has shown us that artistes have no safety as it where be it institutionally or organisationally,” he said.
“Besides the fact that there are a lot of initiatives, let’s face it, yes, it’s not normal for everyone and as artistes it has shown that we are vulnerable, it’s like we are saying right now I have strategy because now I am eating bread yet it’s the only thing I can afford.”
Banda expressed fears that music would be one of the last industries to open up given that it thrived on crowds and public gatherings.
“Most of what we are doing now is administrative and the way things are I think it could be the last industry to be considered in terms of operations because it gathers a lot of people so let’s just be sober and sincere with ourselves,” he said.
Online performances, which several musicians have taken up, could not be classified as an alternative as it was the only option at the moment.
“We have this misconception that we should be growing better even when things are wrong. Personally, I want to dismiss the issue of using online platform as a strategy, but as the only available option that’s there for us right now, we never anticipated this, things are really not well for us, but we continue working,” he said.
Banda said since the lockdown, their work was more administrative although some musicians say they are using the lockdown to pen new tracks. He said Winky D had always been writing songs even before the lockdown.
“We can’t even say nowadays he is writing songs because he always writing and it’s not a new thing and it’s a process. For an artiste, if you establish yourself, it’s not about releasing something, but the impact of the output,” he said.
Banda underscored the need for the sector to invest in local resource utilisation, adding that going online would leave some of their fans out in the cold in view of high data charges and poor internet connectivity.
“So really, we are trying and we are saying to ourselves I think there are certain areas that we really feel we should invest in. First and foremost, we should look at local resource utilisation whenever possible, but however, as for us when we do partnerships with others outside, it’s merely because we would not have seen those things around and it’s just one of those very difficult scenarios,” he said.
“If we decide to go online, it means we have neglected some of the most organic fans that we have had, those who don’t have access to this like the ghetto youths and others in rural areas. We are humans and we don’t have answers to everything.”
Banda indicated that currently, they were not able to do their visuals because traditionally they use several locations and work with a huge cast, something not possible under the lockdown in which social distancing was critical.