Willis Wataffi stunned audiences with his unexpected win at the 19th edition of the National Arts Merit Award (NAMA) where he walked away with the Outstanding Album award.
There was a deafening silence when his name was announced while others murmured in the background in discontent.
When he took to the podium, he appeared to struggle with his acceptance speech.
Quite clearly, he had been shocked by the win.
And correctly so, Wataffi told The Herald Arts that while he hoped to win the award, he was surprised when his name was announced, especially after failing to be nominated for same award in the past.
The Afro-jazz musician’s album “Uhuru”, was nominated together with Freeman’s “Gango”, which won Zimbabwe Music Awards (ZIMA) and was nominated at the Star FM Music Awards.
At ZIMA, Wataffi won the Best Jazz award.
Another nominee in the category was Mambo Dhuterere, who has been doing well, with three nominations at Star FM Music Awards and a win for Traditional Gospel at ZIMA.
Wataffi told The Herald Arts that he was surprised to win the award, despite having bagged a similar award in the past.
“Although I have won two awards before (ZIMA 2004 and NAMA 2005), I was so surprised that I scooped this one as well,” he said.
“This was besides the fact that I did not have anyone in mind for the award, I wanted it for myself.”
Wataffi had not listened to music by his competitors but he understood well that they were crowd favourites as most of their songs dominated social media platforms and radio stations.
“I listened to some songs from Mambo Dhuterere’s album but I did not listen to Freeman’s album. I knew the song ‘Ngaibake’, so I did not have a complete understanding of what I was competing with at all.
“Not listening to others musicians’ work is not good because as artistes, we have to share our own music among ourselves, listen and support each other,” he said.
He encouraged musicians to listen to their colleagues’ work