Month: December 2014

Zimbabwean artists, their art and continental awards.

On Saturday, November 29th, African artists with the best music videos were rewarded with awards.

One, and only one Zimbabwean artist, Buffalo Souljah (Thabani Ndlovu) walked away with the Most Gifted in the Dancehall/Ragga Category. This makes him King of African Dancehall. Big up brotherman @BuffaloSouljah1 .

Most artists from the North of Limpopo do not feature that much on the music video channels, as a result they miss out when these awards are handed out.

This begs the question; Why is it most Zimbabwean artists do not feature that much on MtvBase, Channel O and Trace?

One convinient excuse is that MTV and Channel O are a Nigerian and South African affair. It is alleged that South African and Nigerian artists are allocated the lion’s share of airplay on these channels, and the rest of Africa left to share the little time left. I will not dissect this accusation since it needs a bit of research hence a blogpost of its own.

A cursory glance at most Zimbabwean music videos will leave one concluding that the artists should shoulder the blame for being allocated little or no time on these channels. Allow me to highlight a few crimes that our artists commit, that leads to their artistic pieces ending up in the dustbin at Channel O et al.

Most of the music being produced by our artists is of poor quality.The instruments are nor well arranged, the vocals unpolished and the mixing and editing is attrocious. A poor song cannot have a quality video, or should I say a person who produces a poor piece of music cannot miraculously produce a quality video.

Zimbabwean artists need to invest in better cameras. Some of the videos on youtube are grainy and look like they were shot using a VGA cellphone camera. Some are darkish, not enough light on the scene that is being shot.
Such videos do not deserve airplay.

Shooting a video with a quality camera isn’t enough on its own. A quality camera in the hands of an amateur cameraman will not result in a quality video. Besides the camera-work being professional, the video needs to be properly edited. Visuals needs to be added and subtracted from the video to make it interesting. It mustn’t be an ordinary and straight forward video. A good example of a well edited video is Stay Awake by Movip Entertainment.

Quality videos need directors who are creative. It is possible that an artist himself can pen a song and be a director. Such cases are rare, especially in the Zimbabwean context. Most videos that we see are not directed. The artist and friends gather around, sing along while song is played, record clips, stitch them together and post on Youtube or submit to a tv channel. Such behaviour is an insult to the art community, commercial tv stations and consumers of the product. In some instances, the ‘director’ employed is a friend who knows nothing about directing the videos.

A video needs a storyboard. Shooting a video without a storyboard is the same as gropping in the dark. The storyline also has to contexual. We cannot have Hype Williams type of videos comprising of helicopters, jets and Rolls Royce rides cannot surely suit the Zimbabwean context. I also have problems with videos whose storyline is about hijackings and bank robberies, for example, Shingi ft Three Kings video. Where the storyline incorporates such, the acting and effects have to be credible.

Our artists are still a long way from producing quality visuals. For as long as that is the case, they will continue to lose out on the continental and international scene. The 75% favour doesn’t apply when it comes to the international scene.

Chimurenga Tales

The war was painful. Villagers suffered. Villagers died.
It is said that when the Rhodesian Army soldiers came, they beat up parents. They beat up parents for fun and for various ‘crimes’. One of the most common crimes was cooking for ‘terrorists’. Some parents were accused of encouraging their sons of becoming terrorists. A father had to account for his sons. If your son disappears, you would find yourself up to the neck in trouble.
One tale that is told is of one headman whose son ran away into exile to train as a guerrilla fighter. No one knows how the soldiers got wind of the fact but they quickly swarmed the village, rounded up the people at the headman’s house. The headman was beaten to death with a pestle. It is said the soldiers who beat him up were black. They did so under the supervision of white soldiers. Some say as the pestle pounded the head of the bound-up captive, blood and brains flew like sparks off an anvil, and scattered on to the faces of people who sat at the front. They were not allowed to wipe it off. They were not allowed to cry or wince. That, it was said, was to teach them a lesson for letting their sons go into exile to train as terrorists. Also, this would teach a lesson to those contemplating to go into exile what would happen to their parents once they disappear.
Soon as the army cars sped off and the dust barely settled, ‘vanamukoma’, as the guerillas were called, would round up the very same villagers; Who called the soldiers? Who told them what? Who is the sellout? And the beating and killing would continue. One innocent man was pointed out as a sellout. Everyone knew he was innocent. Out of fear, people kept quiet. He was burnt with drippings of burning plastic until he died. Parents were told to queue up, plastic in hand, you dip your plastic in the fire then rush to where the bound up ‘sellout’ was. Only pregnant women and those with suckling babies were spared the ordeal of torturing the bound up ‘m’tengesi’. Many people who were there say they can still detect the pungent smell of burning human flesh in the village air up until today.
This is one of the many Chimurenga tales. Tell me the one(s) you heard.

Said one man to his ego….

blackchickenbyo

Said one man to his ego….

(A dramatic piece filled with irony and truth.)

Dear Ego,

I am sorry we haven’t spoken for a while and I am sure you are feeling neglected. The thing is I have a bit of a dilemma.

I have been doing amazingly well, sorry my dear Ego, I should say, ‘we’ have been doing amazingly well. Of course we both want to celebrate our achievements and encourage other people to celebrate our achievements as well. We want to post selfies, update our status about all the fabulous places we have visited, update our CV, be seen at all the new bars in town, get complimentary tickets and tweet about how fantastic we are. But, Conscience is being grumpy. Conscience says that you and I are now a little ‘out of control’. She is worried that we are putting ourselves at risk by being so…

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