Nama awards sink under COVID-19 wave

THE global COVID-19 pandemic has continued to choke the creative sector with the local arts mother body National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ), the organisers of the country’s premier arts awards National Arts Merit Awards (Nama), forced to postpone this year’s edition of the awards ceremony until February 27, 2022.

BY WINSTONE ANTONIO

The Nama awards, established through an Act of Parliament in 1985 by NACZ recognises and rewards outstanding excellence in creativity and talent within the creative sector.

NACZ director Nicholas Moyo told a Press conference in the capital yesterday that in the absence of the traditional annual Nama awards, they would be honouring 40 legends in the creative sector at an awards ceremony dubbed Nama Legends Awards set for February 27 next year.

Moyo said while they recognised that some arts disciplines were able to operate under the stringent lockdown conditions, the awards’ integrity stood to be compromised in a situation where there were significant inhibitions to creativity as a result of stringent lockdown regulations.

“The prestigious competitive annual awards (Nama) were postponed for a year owing to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on creativity and the arts sector in particular over the past eight months. In this regard, the postponed Nama will be held in February 2022 and will reward artworks created in the period December 1, 2019 to November 30, 2020,” he said.

“In reaching the decision to postpone the competitive National Arts Merit Awards, National Arts Council of Zimbabwe is cognisant of the fact that a lack of activity in the sector has greatly affected the ability of artists to create in their usual spaces. This extended period is to allow artists to resume their operations in light of the relaxed COVID-19 regulations.”

Moyo said the legends awards ceremony to be held under the theme Our Legacy, Our Pride would be a three-in-one event that will celebrate Zimbabwe’s 40th anniversary as well as the 35 years of the National Arts Council’s existence.

“This will be a unique event in the sense that on the night we shall honour 40 legends as we celebrate 40 years of independence. We, therefore, have dubbed it Nama Legends Awards,” he said.

“These legends awards provide for a strategic postponement of the competitive 20th Nama whose hosting hung in the balance due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns.”

Moyo said the legends awards were a special honour and recognition to legendary creatives who have raised the country’s flag over the past 40 years.

“By hosting the legends awards we desire to reflect on the developments in the cultural and creative industries over the past 40 years and celebrate our achievements by providing honorary awards to the people who were influential during the period in shaping the various sub-sectors of the industry” he said.

“The legends awards are thus meant to inspire practitioners in the sector which is reopening under the post-COVID-19 conditions to take advantage of the new creative environment and get back to their creative spaces and produce artworks that will make them the future legends.”

Nama’s executive producer and Jacaranda Culture and Media Corporation representative Napoleon Nyanhi said they were now up to speed with the legends awards.

“We are very excited to have this opportunity to do this again. We are looking to continue to raise the bar, however, more details of the event will be released as we go. The event will be very different especially because of the COVID-19,” he said.

“There are a lot of things we are putting in place to make sure that we comply with the World Health Organisation and Zimbabwean regulations around COVID-19. We are still very excited because for the arts industry and for the artistes there still need to be a lot of recognition for them to continue to do what they do.”

“When we award legends it means that those who are legends in the making are doing work right now that very soon in 10, 15 20 years they will also be recognised as legends in this country,” he said.

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