The past two weeks in the Bulawayo Arts industry have been a beehive of activity, with both excitement and turmoil in the mix. Since before the #RoilBAAs days up until this current time, there has been a lot of speculation, accusations, celebrations and tribulations that are more than enough to last the Arts industry a whole year. In all of these erupting emotions, one cannot help but wonder if the Bulawayo Arts industry can be likened to our very own political climate as a country. Are you lost? Here is how;
It is ironic how some individuals who were in a “system”, after being rejected by the very same body start crying foul like people who have been chased out of a political party. We have seen it happen numerous times in the arts sector with people falling off and in the end accusing one another of embezzlement and other unscrupulous shenanigans. If it was genuine fault-finding, the same people who cry foul should have seen the rot of the system while still in it, rather than look like bitter people who are out for vengeance.
One thing to remember in politics is that, for survival purposes, it is permanent interests, not permanent friends that are key. This principle applies in the Arts industry. Do not be surprised that people will publicly profess distaste for someone, but again they will “Nicodemously” go behind the multitudes and work with the very same person they claim to despise. Individuals will work behind the scenes of something/people they “regard with contempt” in the public domain. It has become a common feat in this industry and people who are mutually interested in the arts and politics surely notice this dual-flaw.
How some other people have been frustrated by the arts industry and eventually decided to migrate to foreign lands is not a new thing in Bulawayo. With the migration of artistes to greener pastures like America, Europe, South Africa and even Harare, the Bulawayo arts industry has faced its own share of the brain-drain. Artistes not feeling appreciated and undervalued, is as old as the craft itself; as clichéd as it sounds, ask Majaivana.
Donor funding is the center gear of everything we do as a sector. We start initiatives with the intention of attracting donor funding and not growing the sector in itself. It is funny how many squabbles in the Arts circles are rooted around individuals fighting to be in top positions of festivals and events so as to receive donor funds. We as a people believe being a director amounts to a get rich quick scheme. The cultural hub of the country has been reduced to being a begging basket by greedy and selfish individuals who are mainly keen on cashing in on festivals and events.
The bond note and the US dollar are equivalent and can stand side to side in battle; and so is a radio presenter and a musician. In our city, we fixate situations to cater for our own satisfaction and we make it work. Despite the donkey and the ox pulling the same plough, we expect astounding results without failure.
The youths in the Bulawayo Arts industry are comfortable with being forever young. Youths complain of being shut out by the “system” that gatekeeps the sector only for the chosen few “old” men and women. However the question is; What keeps the young people from doing their own thing, from starting their own Bulawayo Arts industry 2.0. Does it boil down to the donor funding scheme that everyone eyes once they have a taste of the arts? Are the young people really hungry to work and realise their dreams or are they waiting for the donor fund scepter to be handed down to them?
Like a certain Doctor, the door to door campaign still does not cut it in the real world. Artistes on the ground might find it difficult to break through because of the strategies they use to try and appeal to the Bulawayo masses infamously known for being very choosy and difficult to please. It is a common thing that many artistes suffer from, rejection by your own people.
The above point feeds to the fact that you will NEVER please everyone in the Bulawayo Arts industry. Whether one does right or wrong, people will always find fault, it has become synonymous with the arts craft in the city. No wonder why those criticized regularly, have developed a thick skin and do not change despite the criticism being constructive. Free and fair will never be “free and fair” as long as there is a constant opposing force, that is human nature.
Just like political parties fighting for control of the country, the same elements in the Bulawayo arts industry exist. The squabble to control the city’s show-biz does exist and it continues.
After all this has been said and done we pray we are not coerced into wearing an apoloJersey.