Wow, what a show! Zimbabwe’s awards season is officially over and the 19th edition of the National Arts Merit Awards (Nama) tops the log standings.
The National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ), in partnership with event organisers, Jacaranda Culture and Media Corporation (JCMC) led by Napoleon Nyanhi, pulled all the stops to give Zimbabwe a show stopper.
The glitz and glamour event was held at Rainbow Towers on Saturday and had surprises, tears of joy, electric performances, fashion, lights and action.
However, there were some glitches which need to be corrected in future.
Choice of venue
For starters, awards ceremonies are for everyone, hence organisers of such events should give room to everyone.
The choice of venue by Nama was noble as the auditorium could accommodate multitudes, yet giving event planners room for creativity.
Upon arriving at the venue, there was a vetting process for VIP, VVIP and the general sitting.
They had security and ushers, which made it easier for guests to navigate their way around the venue. More could have been done though to market the event. A full house would have been nice. Even a rented crowd would have served the purpose.
It seems it was more of a VIP than a public event, which kind of defeated the whole “taking it back to the people” mantra.
“Our marketing period was very short,” said Nyanhi. “This was because it took a long time for us to confirm the venue. We had no money, but some sponsors came to our rescue and secured the venue.
“But it was already very late to start a marketing campaign. Even though we didn’t fill up the HICC, the fact that we got almost 2 000 guests after 10 days of marketing was a miracle.”
The Red Carpet affair
For an awards ceremony to have glitz and glamour, the red carpet should be priority number one.
Kudos to the organisers for practising what they preached. The red carpet stretched for about 30 metres, complete with barricades, giving fans too a chance to have their pictures taken and at the same time mingle with the celebrities.
But the red carpet affair started a bit late. The team also missed some of the celebrities for the interview due to technical challenges.
Celebrities and musicians, even the so-called big dogs, were present. They posed for pictures on the red carpet, bringing an international feel to the whole affair.
The hosts and award presenters
Like they always say, failure to plan leads to failure.
The organisers had their plan but some of the presenters let them down.
An awards show is for television, so people should stick to the script. However, those who managed to come to the rehearsal proved worthwhile as they did what they were supposed to do.
One thing the organisers should be saluted for is the choice of language they brought on stage by selecting presenters who are good in local languages.
They brought back Yellow Card star, South Africa-based Zimbabwean actor Leroy Gopal as the main host, together with the bubbly Mbo Mohacs, also a Zimbabwean actor based in South Africa. The two had good chemistry.
Gopal surprised many as he opened the show as one of the dancers.
The stage, sound and lightning
The stage took us down memory lane to the Miss Malaika 2001 beauty pageant, then later brought us back to Miss Tourism Zimbabwe 2016.
It was lit. It showed Zimbabwe has the creative mind and ability to stage great things.
The lighting and graphics were on point, and could work well on the theme of not only what was happening on stage, but coordinating with the crowd.
Somehow, the sound system did injustice to some of the performances, including Alick Macheso’s opening “Ngaibake” verse and again on the performances by the Little Theatre Production, not forgetting the poetry and painting performance.
Another glitch was when DJs played Enzo Ishall’s song when Ishan was receiving his award.
It puzzled many.
However, the icing on the cake was the fire on stage, which coincided with the graphics. Yes, that happened in Zimbabwe.
Nama should be given a round of applause for giving a true arts picture when it comes to performances.
They had over 150 performers from different genres and it was amazing.
First, Nyau dancers gave guests value for money, followed by Churchill Boys band and Bulawayo rapper Asaph.
Some of the major highlights included the opening act which featured Alick Macheso, Ammara Brown, Freeman and Vabati VaJehovha, as they did the remix for “Ngaibake”. They kept guests on their feet.
It would be an injustice not to mention Chipawo, who put up a scintillating performance.
Indeed, the late Stephen Chipfunyise, who played a major role at Chipawo, could be smiling in heaven after witnessing the display by the children’s group.
The legacy lives on
Jazz sensation Prudence Katomeni-Mbofana did a rendition of the late Simon Chimbetu’s song “Samatenga” with images of some of the late musicians showing on the main screens.
It was emotional and touching.
On the poetry and painting performance, it was intriguing, as all performers put their maximum effort to entertain. Sithandazile Dube and Nqobile Malinga nailed it with their poem dedicated to the “Nzou” totem.
Takunda Billiat painted the late Oliver Mtukudzi’s portrait in three minutes upside down and shocked many after he turned it up. He received a standing ovation.
Let us just say in 2019, artists worked hard and all wanted a Nama gong.
Of course, there were surprises.
This came out clearly when Willis Wataffi was announced as the winner for Album of the Year and some sections of the auditorium booed him.
This year, winners walked away with ZWL$10 000 each and all got certificates.
The metal seal
This was a mammoth task for NACZ and JCMC considering the country is celebrating 40 years of independence.
They were supposed to do the best awards show, of which they tried, but later forgot to tell the artists and Zimbabweans that we are turning 40 years old, hence they could have dedicated the show or paid some tribute.
The organisers should at least have had some aspects of Zimbabwe at 40 as part of the awards ceremony.
Below is the full list of winners
Outstanding Female Musician — Tamy Moyo
Outstanding Male Musician — Ti Gonzi
Outstanding Song — ‘Kure’ – Ishan ft. Ti Gonzi
Outstanding Album — Uhuru – Willis Wataffi
Outstanding Music Video — ‘Sunshine City’ – Flying Bantu
Outstanding Fiction Book — Out of Darkness, Shining Light – Petina Gappah
Outstanding Children’s Book — Songs of the Little Creature – Phumulani Chipandambira
Outstanding First Creative Published Book — A People’s Fight – Fradreck Hombiro
Outstanding Female Dancer — Dadirai Mupandawana – Ezimnyama Dance Group
Outstanding Male Dancer — Selemani Mpochi – Orchestra Mberikwazvo
Outstanding Theatre Actress — Charmaine Mudau – Imbokodo
Outstanding Screen Production (Television Series) — Muzita Rababa – Shem Zemura
Outstanding Screen Production — Short Film- Redefining the Road – Tapiwa Gambira
Outstanding Mix Media Work — Distorted History – Anthony Bumhira
Outstanding 2 Dimensional Work — Cyclone Idai where is Mommy? – Calvin Chimutuwah
Outstanding 3 Dimensional Work — Tribute to the mother of generations – Stanley Mutanga
Outstanding Exhibition — Pieces for Peace, Pieces, Revolutionary Freshness – Talent Kapadza & Schuma Herscovitz
Outstanding Journalist (Print) — Tafadzwa Kachiko – Newsday
Outstanding Journalist (TV) — Masceline Bondamakara – ZBC
Outstanding Journalist Radio — Anesu Masamvu – ZiFM
Outstanding Online Media — Zimbojam
Outstanding Comedian — Long John
Outstanding Poet — Sithembile Siqhoza Ndebele
Outstanding Actor (Film and TV) — Percy Soko – Mandla
Outstanding Actress (Film and TV) — Antoinette Sango – Mandla
Outstanding Screen Production (TV) — Mandla – Solomon Mandaza
Outstanding Screen Production (Short Film) — Redefining the Road — Tapiwa Gambura
Outstanding Screen Production (Full-length Film) — Stay with Me – Nick Zemura
Artist in the Diaspora — Vusa Mkhaya
Outstanding Promoter of the Year- D & G Promotions
Personality of the Year — Nobuntu
Service to the Arts Award — Solomon Guramatunhu
Lifetime Achievement Award — Stella Chiweshe
People’s Choice Award — Winky D