The name Thomas “Tafirenyika” Mapfumo carries a lot of weight in the music world scene. The Mukanya brand can easily sell out a show for any clever promoter without breaking a sweat. In the past the Chimurenga music icon has filled up arenas not only in his motherland but in foreign territories where at times a huge chunk of his followers hardly hear a word of what he is singing about.
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Bulawayo is a hard terrain for any music promoter and it needs a lot of strategic effort and planning.Banking on the popularity of an artist can possibly leave you in a serious financial crisis. What is of note is that the city has at times snubbed their very own and has left many local musicians’ dreams of hosting concerts in disarray and financial paralysis.
On Saturday the Bulawayo leg of the “Peace Tour” was a nightmare not only for the promoter, but also for any music loving person who might have went past the Large City Hall hoping to see a humongous crowd stampeding to get in. However to many’s dismay, the gigantic venue echoed all night as the Chimurenga music guru performed in front of a handful of fans. The 5000 people capacity holding Large City Hall was empty and relied mainly on supporting musicians and their band members to give life to the venue.
Despite the low attendance “The Lion of Zimbabwe” gave a memorable performance and proved that age is just but a number. At 73, Mukanya belted hits after hits from just after midnight up until the early hours of the morning. He left the stage just 10 minutes before 5AM.
He might not be the first legend to be snubbed by Bulawayo in recent times. However this was worse for a star who has not been in the country for some time. As we reflected on the show we decided to pen 3 things that made it a monumental flop.
- USD$10 OR $40 Admission Fee
We wonder who came up with such a disastrous pricing model, first when we received the poster we thought it was $10 bond only to be shocked when we saw people being turned away at the entrance. Immediately some were heard saying they were off to the Killler T and Mzoe7 show which was just a stone thrown away at the Vista and had a $7 bond charge.
The Zimbabwean economy is currently crumbling and demanding such an amount from people who do not have a salary increase is a bit below the belt. The promoter could have worked around a strategy that could have benefited both parties without the hustle.
We hope any promoter contemplating on bringing an act to Bulawayo also learns from this and proposes prices that can attract the ordinary people.
2. Marketing and Advertising…
He might have a name that brings any venue in the world to a complete stand still, but a basic marketing approach that could have included taking Mukanya around townships in Bulawayo prior to the show was not a bad idea. The posters were just but limited to the CBD. What about our uncles in the ghetto who are die hard Mapfumo fans but hardly get into the CBD. There is a high chance they could have missed the posters.
A huge banner or billboard along one of the major roads leading into the CBD could have added a bit of thunder. The guys had a backing from Cavendish Lloyd Zimbabwe via its Zark cigarette brand and we doubt that adding any of the two could have been a major dent to the financial budget.
Was a radio advert on Skyz Metro FM or Khulumani FM too much? The 2 radio stations are currently commanding a huge following in the southern side of the country and could have easily influenced a number of people to attend the show, even from as far as Filabusi.
We hope the promoters bring their A-game make a plan as they go to other towns. We cannot stomach the fact that Mukanya is failing to attract bumper crowds unless if it means his 80’s charm and vibrancy has slowly faded.
3. Last Minute Introduction of new Bulawayo acts and the Gweru Show Flop…
The promoters might have sensed a few days before the show that it was likely to be bummer in Bulawayo and quickly decided to add a few last minute acts to the line up so as to entice the Bulawayo community, but ohh well, it was just but late.
The Gweru flop on Friday could have made it worse as people were driven to think that the Bulawayo show was going to be worse and hence decided to chill at home or made other alternative plans that they felt were not going to disadvantage them at the end of the night.
If the promoter had played his cards right and researched before taking this route, he/she could have asked other players in the city how shows are carried out. Just a few weeks ago Bulawayo witnessed another bummer as OkMalumkoolkat preformed to an almost empty Hartsfield Stadium. The same goes for then Tuku and Bekezela show. The promoter needed to up his/her game in getting things done for the show; they had the best name in the game, it is undeniable that Mukanya is the best.