If rivalry is a global issue spreading as far as Kenya and Uganda, not to mention the mother of all rivalries Hollywood, why then should Bulawayo be an exception? Question is, is the rivalry beneficial or fatal to the Music Industry?
Rivalry, or rather beef as it is better known is healthy to the music industry as it generates more income plus interest from the public and puts the artistes in the limelight constantly. For instance the rivalry between Alick Macheso and the late Tongai Moyo which hogged the limelight at the now defunct ZIMA Awards a few years back.
Most of the time rivalry is between two musicians or labels conflicting over the same interest. However in the Bulawayo Music Industry rivalry is not generally fixed as numerous rivalries sprout overnight and disappear the next day.lt is more of wrangles, disagreements and a war of words.
Most of the Artistes are soldiers at war with no particular opponent. They are at the firing line, shooting anyone on sight. Most of the time, that some one is an individual or group whose opinion differs from that of the majority.
A hungry man is indeed an angry man. Most Bulawayo Musicians are usually conflicting because they are hungry for success and there are limited chances of breakthrough. There is so much talent and fewer opportunities, further frustrating the Artistes.
Most of the Artistes have been blinded by the negativity surrounding them to the extent that some now fail to realise a good thing when it comes by, or at least look at the brighter side of it. This has severely divided Bulawayo Musicians, who have a collective dream which is to have Bulawayo Music recognized. Right now, some Artistes have lashed at the fast rising
Bulawayo’s Top 10 Chart hosted by Gibson Ncube. Although the majority supports the show, cracks are already visible. The NAMAs were shredded to pieces by Bulawayo Musicians, the very same people who always say that Bulawayo is not given enough opportunity.
What picture is portrayed through that, when brother turns against brother, internal conflicts publicly hung like dirty linen? Is the collective vision the Artistes claim to have real? Could it be that everyone wants to create something with an impact for Bulawayo Music to the extent that nothing is good enough anymore? Could these be tinges of jealousy as everyone wants to be the Hero which saved the Bulawayo Music Industry?
Understanding the mindset and frustrations of Bulawayo Musicians is more complex than anyone can anticipate.lt is intertwined with Bulawayo’s historical background and influenced by political struggles.
In brief, our history states that when Mzilikazi came to Zimbabwe, he defeated an already weak Rozvi state and created a powerful Ndebele state which later on, under the leadership of Lobengula, was colonised by the British. After the war of Independence, the majority rule went back to the Shona who have been holding steadfast to it much to the frustration of the Ndebele and other minority groups .
This has inevitably resulted to tribalism and the issue is unavoidable when it comes to Bulawayo Music.
Bulawayo Musicians have alienated themselves from Harare musicians who have continued to humiliate them by coming to Bulawayo and fully packing venues which Bulawayo Artistes have failed to pack. Pause. Is Bulawayo missing something or losing the plot somewhere?
Alienating themselves from the mainstream Artistes has been a major setback rather than a significant move towards the positive. Pride has not generated much income so far and hate language towards these Artistes has hindered the growth of Bulawayo musicians without them realizing it .In the process they have failed to attract and have lost potential fans, sponsors and investors. One thing they have failed to acknowledge is that just because the next person to them be it in an event , studio ,commuter omnibus or the sponsor they are approaching is speaking Ndebele does not necessarily mean that the person is Ndebele.
If one is speaking against their tribe, they will tighten their support for their people and the Artists will continue performing for each other, with little or no sponsors because in actual fact, the Ndebele are fewer than the Shona in Bulawayo and they are also few in positions of power. Therefore, if their historical and political background is that much valuable and yet a hindrance, they should take Honorable Dr Nkomo , Father Zimbabwe’s advice. He echoed unity and working together.
‘Get in and never change color, but be like chameleons’- THE LATE VICE PRESIDENT DR.Joshua Nkoma
Those words simply encourage the Artistes and everyone affected not to work against the system but to work their way up, bearing in mind that they should not be swallowed but maintain their originality and roots.
Over the years Bulawayo has lost many Artistes due to the seemingly unyielding industry. Some have given up and taken up jobs totally different from music, others have left for South Africa in search for greener pastures, whereas others especially key players in the music Industry, have relocated to Harare.
The remaining Artistes still forge on in the Industry pregnant with awesome ideas and very few of them becoming a reality.
Bulawayo Artistes should know that some of their actions are portraying Bulawayo Music in a negative light as the audiences are no longer sure about what the Artistes really want or how to support them. Everyday, new Initiatives are conceived, despite the struggle to gain satisfactory audiences and followers.
Some are gaining momentum and very much relevant whereas others are overnight money making schemes which tend to backfire at the end. The issue is that there are now more jacks of all trades and masters of none. Everyone is now a qualified critic and if he sees one or two mistakes from someone’s event, he is inspired to create his own .At the end of the day there would be too much productions and events with no consumers.
The journey still continues. As they move forward they should consider shifting focus, try new and previously dreaded avenues, seriously consider collaborating with mainstream Artistes and love their neighbors as they love themselves. Music is a universal language which crosses all tribal boundaries and languages. Sometimes it is not about working hard only; it’s also about working smart. If music is really a career for these artistes they should act like it and treat it like a business, weighing opportunities and taking risks. This is not a place of comfort. Talent alone won’t take one anywhere, hard work and aggressive marketing is needed, even if it means creating hype only. In an industry congested with talent, individuals should aim to stand out.
Of course Bulawayo is deeply in touch with its roots but that does not necessarily mean that the Artistes should also inherit the failures of their elders and continue fighting their battles, they should honor and respect them but what failed will not succeed no matter how many times and how vigorous they do it. Bulawayo Artistes should not be limited by the tribal and political battle. It won’t kill to try being humble for once and implementing ideas that have worked for other Artistes as long as it is for the better.
The Artistes should think less about the past and the older generations long gone because they are not coming back. For once, they should consider the generations to come and start fixing the broken pieces or at least acknowledge, appreciate and rally behind those already making a change. They should create successful legacies to be proudly inherited by their children and grandchildren. lf one has an initiative and there is also a similar one already in existence they should join forces and increase the audiences instead of scrambling for or sharing the present audience.lt is also important to accept that success is not only measured by the years one has spent in the industry but by the hard work and achievements of the Artiste.
Information dissemination is of great importance as most Artistes are in the dark about certain issues which are very much helpful and fundamental in a musician’s career.
A round of applause to every individual who has contributed positively to the growth and recognition of Bulawayo Music. Musicians must not to forget the initial vision they had when they first ventured into the industry. One man’s meat is another man’s poison so every opportunity or situation wont favour everyone equally. The Artistes should opt for constructive criticism as it further builds the industry and they should by all means protect the image of the Bulawayo music industry and build a positive reputation.