“…We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial ‘outside agitator’ idea…,” reads an extract from Martin Luther King Jr. Letter from Birmingham Jail.
This letter was meant to preach unity among blacks and whites in the United States of America but it can also be used to preach unity among players in Zimbabwe’s creative sector.
Although there is need to establish a functional Cultural Policy and amend the National Arts Council Act, the greatest problem in the creative sector is lack of unity among artistes.
Battles in the sector are mainly between the old and the young – with the upcoming generation accusing the older generation of dragging the sector into disarray through donor funds abuse.
Due to inflated egos, there is no sharing of ideas, skills and resources.
Likewise, there is little or no collaboration between established and budding acts, while tribal battles also cause havoc.
The inaugural Zim Dancehall Summit held last week in Harare tried to address some of these issues.
Spearheaded by Jibilika Trust founder, Plot Mhako and his team, the summit focused on issues that have slowed down the hype in the dancehall genre over the years.
“We wanted to come up with a winning formula after the event, hence we engaged some of the best brains in the arts sector for the workshop,” said Mhako.
Unfortunately, some of the big names who were supposed to lead the panel discussions did not attend.
“I invited a number of big artistes in the dancehall fraternity. This initiative was meant to improve their operations and livelihoods but some did not pitch up,” said Mhako.
This was also the case at the recently held Creative Arts Think Tank dialogue where one of the organisers, Mandla Ncube, revealed that key people openly refused to attend, claiming it was an unnecessary meeting.
“Many of you here are in our WhatsApp group, you saw how people refused to come saying chinhu cha Mandla (this is Mandla’s project). But how then do we build the sector which such thinking?” questioned Mandla.
Jive Zimbabwe head, Benjamin Nyandoro highlighted how non-paying fans at Zim dancehall shows are stalling the genre’s progress.
Most dancehall acts are famous but poor because of meagre gate takings caused by poor business acumen.
“The majority of fans you see in dancehall shows would have entered for free, claiming to know the artiste and that has negatively affected the chanters’ incomes,” noted Nyandoro.
For decades, players in Zimbabwe’s creative sector have been crying for a better Culture Policy.
Creative and cultural industry expert, Stephen Chifunyise said the sector should unite and engage Government through dialogue.
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