Unplugged is without doubt one of Harare’s biggest attractions.
Started as a platform to promote upcoming artistes, it had sluggish beginnings. But word spread like a veld fire and today it is the place to be.
Wingate Golf Club was the host of Unplugged on the Easter weekend, and what a crowd it was!
But that larger than usual crowd also came with its problems, as status battles erupted and people focused on out doing one another instead of enjoying the vibe.
As a result, Unplugged spent the greater part of last week trending on social media for all the wrong reasons.
It seems some people felt the event was overcrowded because perceived social barriers had been broken.
Their argument was that Unplugged is a preserve for the high-end market, and they did not appreciate the large presence of “ghetto youths” on what they felt was their turf.
The supposedly low-end of the market did not take the talking down to lightly, and a declaration of war of sorts was made.
While most of the Tweets and Facebook posts on the issue can easily enrich a comedy script, this situation is something not to be taken lightly as it exposed unhealthy divisions.
We have long known that some people have always felt that certain spaces are their preserve, and they do no take kindly to people who have less money than them patronising the same places.
So much for equality!
Unplugged co-founder Chiedza Danha said the growth of the event had created challenges for them.
“Unplugged was a passion project borne out of a genuine love for local music and it was really about connecting unknown artistes with audiences. We know we have done that successfully having had over 200 artistes pass through our stage,” said Danha.
“These types of blankets and wine styled events happen all over the world and they successfully bring people together. But please note that we will not be introducing VIP sections or anything that causes division because this is the antithesis of what we are trying to achieve, which is inclusiveness around music.”
A heavy security team comprising of private companies and the ZRP is always part of the event as part of measures to minimise crime.
Danha distanced her brand from various negative social media views, insisting that Unplugged was for oneness.
“We have a happy audience that come every time. Those passing derogatory comments on social media are not a part of us. The idea that someone is not having fun on the basis of perceived class differences is unfortunate. We are inclusive and welcome anybody that wants to support local talent,” emphasised the Unplugged co-founder.
Across town at Madirirano, hosted by Simba Bodyslam last Sunday at Takashinga Cricket Grounds in Highfield, also proved to be a major attraction.
Some people dubbed it “Ghetto Unplugged”.
Among the well-known faces present were Genius “Ginimbi” Kadungure, Pokello Nare, Albert Ndabambi and Spencer Madziya among others.
The free event (though there was an invite for the VIP section) attracted a huge crowd in the high-density suburb.
And oddly the “ghetto youths” also appeared unwelcome because the well-heeled had come to their side of the tracks.
Entertainment was in abundance with the likes of Gary Tight, Templeman, Abisha Palmer, Merciless Zimbabwe, DJ Iroq, TK Beatz and the Bodyslam Family taking turns on the stage.
No drinks were allowed from outside but that proved to be a big mistake as the bars that had been setup were overwhelmed by the hundreds that came through.
And secure parking was scarce, with only VIPs allowed to use manned parking areas.
Similar events to Madirirano and Unplugged include The Big Turn Up, One Big Party, The Cooler Box Party and The Cook Out.
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