Since time immemorial, the National Arts Merit Awards, (Nama) have courted controversy and this year it seems the trend is set to continue. Just a perusal of the nomination list leaves one with a sour taste in the mouth. Nominations in some of the categories have been marred with controversy amid allegations that some of the artists did not qualify to be shortlisted in those categories.
One such artist, Trevor Dongo, was nominated in two categories — best outstanding male and best album. His nomination has since divided opinions among musical fans with some arguing that the crooner was not the best artist to be nominated in that slot, considering that he only released a lukewarm album at the end of last year.
No one can take away the fact that Trevor Dongo is a gifted vocalist, composer and lyrist but 2017 was rather a difficult year for the singer.
He was more in the news for his marital problems and severe beatings than his work.
Even Trevor was surprised with the nomination and he posted it on his social media page.
The questions do not end there.
There is a debate over “Kushata KweMoyo”, a feature film that was nominated in the Outstanding Screen Production — Full Length Film category.
The film is yet to be released film, so then how does it qualify for nomination?
This is not different from judging a collection of cooking ingredients against fully prepared meals in a cooking competition. What if the person decides not to cook? What if the scenes they had watched privately are changed before the public consumes it?
In awards that are held the world over adjudicators and other stakeholders do not have to think of the nominees at a national awards ceremony, because everything would be properly organised.
This is not the first time such things have happened. It is believed that last year another film, “Mwanasikana”, had the same predicament and was nominated before it was released.
There have also been questions on whether some of the nominees exist or they only become available during Nama and might not have a shelf life before and after.
“My friend, we have lost hope on this Nama although I have been nominated in previous years.
“I gave up on them. It is just that they are the only awards in Zimbabwe. We are now focusing on the bigger picture and on the international scene. This is just a circus and they do have double standards. I think to be nominated you ought to know somebody on the panel,” said some directors who commented on condition of anonymity.
The same inconsistencies are also in dancing and literacy categories, where some of the people who were nominated have never danced in their entire life.
Plot Mhako of Jibilika Dance Festival, queried how Nama chose to nominate someone in the best dancer category when they only choreographed the act.
“McIntosh Jerahuni never danced in ‘Full Stop’ but choreographed it. Did Nama watch videos and do they do due diligence? Who are the dance judges? Over the years I have observed a sad and unfortunate trend for the dance category. I hope they make an apology and rectify,” he said.
Contacted for comment, deputy director for Nama Nicholas Moyo asked the reporter to email the questions and had not responded by the time the paper went to print.
Meanwhile, according to information sourced, Nama submission guidelines stated that all work to be submitted should have been made or published between December 2016 and November 2017.
However, some nominees say it doesn’t follow that work should be released to the public, played, viewed or enjoyed by the public.
The awards ceremony will be held on February 17, against a lot of grumbling and disapproval from some sections of society.