To most entities 2017 is a year of gaining social media relevance. Failure to penetrate this sphere of influence means as a body, you are lacking somewhere. That being said, the Bulawayo Arts Awards nomination list sings of a failed venture of trying to gain relevance on social media .
How did we come to this conclusion one would ask? SIMPLE. The bulk of nominees have a notable clout on social media and the organizers of the BAA tactically hoped that the nominees will parade their nomination on social media and by the extension endorse the awards and gain the awards great mileage. The question that rings is , how were the nominees selected to begin with? Yes forms were submitted but who decided who gets picked where. These are questions that we shall never get of a satisfaction of a reply to.
The nomination list is riddled with loopholes more like a worn out sock. One would wonder how a radio Dj /Presenter and a club Dj are in the same category. A look at the two professions CV is convincing enough that the two do not belong in the same basket. The category is water and oil situation in the making, but we are still growing.
Another thing that caught our attention was the nomination of the hottest TV things out of Bulawayo “Film” category. The new talk-show Thatha Wena got a nomination barely 3 episodes into its premier. The movie Lost Letter was also nominated despite the fact that it had not yet premiered by the time nominations were closed. One thing that has been popular with National Arts and Merit Awards were most television productions get nominated while they haven’t been made public,but well we still growing.
One would ask whether the awards are Mat’land Arts Awards or Bulawayo Arts Awards, because the Bulawayo aspect has been breached by additions of non Bulawayo groups such as Mokoomba and “Zankaleli”hit makers Ras Boom and Ace Kater. We rather think Mokoomba is an ambassador of Matebeleland North and Victoria Falls at a metropolitan level. The same applies for the hit song Izankaleli. By nominating it as a song of the year in Bulawayo the shine is being taken from Victoria Falls. But anyway we are still learning.
In addition to the dramatic categories,the video category surfaced at the launch party,initially the organizers were stagnant about including this category, despite the fact that majority extraordinary film and video directors are from Bulawayo, talk about music videos in Zimbabwe the first names to pop up are Vusa Blaqs, Andy Cutta and other Bulawayo motion picture gurus like Trey Ncube.
One category which can be praised is the hip-hop category although one hard working lyrical gun Pschotek is missing in action.The comedy category also got us wondering, where is Chik Aljoy a young man who is well representing Zimbabwe in South Africa and Mandla Simbarashe AKA 2in1 ,these young comics did hustle in 2016 and are till raising the Bulawayo flag high.But anyway we are still learning.
One category that left us puzzled was that of the outstanding media house Zimpapers is a media house that owns the Chronicle and Sunday News. How on earth can the two newspapers compete in under one category while both of them are owned by Zimpapers?
AMH is a media house that owns Newsday, The standard and The Zimbabwe Independent. All the 3 newspapers have played a critical role in the arts sector in Bulawayo hence the category was suppose to sound along these lines ; AMH, Zimpapers and Fair talk communications (which own Skyz Metro Fm and Breeze Fm. But anyway we still learning and its and the awards are a first for Bulawayo)
Moving on, the poetry section is also weak ,it seems like the adjudicators mimicked the NAMA nominees or something. Kadder is one poet who raised the bar in 2016 as she was a Star -Brite finalist hence she was suppose to be considered in that category.
Big up to the photography category it is one of the very few legit categories in the BAAs. Mgcini Nyoni and KB Mpofu have contributed immensely to the pictorial documentation of arts events in Bulawayo. “We have nothing much to say besides may the best man win”
One interesting category which was supposed to be supposed to be looked at was the outstanding newcomer. One cannot compare a radio show with artists that’s weird and very suspicious.But what can we say we are still growing.
In March 2017 Sandra Ndebele and Mzoe 7 released “Ingoma” a song which is barely 6 months old got nominated as song of the year. So are the adjudicators saying Bulawayo didn’t have other better contenders from the past year? Shirati had a one hit track which was huge in the streets, God knows it was even popular with commuter omnibus crews. In the same year we had the song Kwasa kwasa by Mzoe 7 It was so big even 7 year olds danced to the track. We wonder which criteria was used into reaching to the final decision on the song of the year’s nominees list; but well we are still growing.
Several other categories were also questionable but what can we say its a first for Bulawayo and we are still learning. It is our hope that in the second edition such irregularities will be sorted and the standards will be raised. It is also our hope that some of the current panelists change to allow fresh new ideas and growth. This will also allow some of the organisers to be viable for award nominations . An invitation for award curators is not a bad idea at all as long as it is in the name of growth and innovative ideas.
It is also our hope that the award organisers can try to work on their PR skills, it is kind of not-the-best at the moment. We cannot have such an institution in nasty exchanges on public forums. Doing this is a signal that they might have had a hand in the final nominees list. They should get a PR person who responds in a professional manner. We need professionalism, not hanky-panky attitudes.
When all this is said and done, come 30 June, we are looking forward to Carl Joshua Ncube, Berita and Oskido’s attendance at the ceremony. Surely as proud Bulawayo people they can’t afford to miss the inaugural awards ceremony. We are still growing they have no option but to come support.We endorse the awards and acknowledge that we are “Still growing and learning”.