When local is lekker

THOUSANDS of revellers that graced the 2017 Castle Lager National Braai Day festival are a clear testimony that Zimbabweans do not need foreign acts to come up with super events.

Often, when a fiesta of such magnitude is organised, the temptation is to invite foreign performers ostensibly to attract a bumper crowd.

Are local artistes not up to the task?

Present and past statistics tell a deafening story. A sizeable chunk of foreign acts have not only failed to live up to billing through low-down performances, but have also struggled to attract anticipated crowds. This, of course, is after getting hefty sums of appearance fees that most if not all of our top acts can only dream of. For instance, top acts from Jamaica like Beenie Man, Sanchez, Capleton, Sizzla, etcetera; can demand anything from US$15 000 to US$35 000 as service fee.

Top Nigerian acts are even more expensive. Their charge bill starts from around US$30 000. Furthermore, the promoter has to buy air tickets for the entourage, put them in the finest hotels, provide food and transportation and top of the range cars to use during the visits.

Conversely, an attractive bill of top local artistes can still work wonders for a lesser charge, provided the event is attractive enough. Put simply, the total cost of hiring our so-called “big five” artistes is lower than the cost of bringing an average foreign act. Jah Prayzah, Winky D, Ammara Brown, Andy Muridzo, Judgement Yard and Freeman, among others, successfully exhibited the power within local talent at the Old Georgians Sports Club last week.

An impressive crowd estimated by organisers to have been around 16 000 attended the second edition of the Castle Larger National Braai Day celebrations last weekend. Over 15 tonnes of meat were consumed at the fiesta.

The festival, which has evolved over the years and is named after various Delta Beverages brands, last registered a typical colossal crowd five years ago. This was for a gig that featured the duo of P-Square (Peter and Paul Okoye), who performed at the Glamis Arena. At least 20 000 tickets are reported to have been sold for the gig.

All subsequent shows featuring foreign artistes have registered much lesser crowds. The Delta Beverages beer festival has been headlined by notable international acts that include Jamaican stars Beenie Man (2010), Cocoa Tea and Fantan Mojah (2011), Konshens (2015) and Nigerian star D’banj (2013).

Castle Lager’s “2016 Ultimate Braai” festival, the first ever big braai in the county, attracted at least 14 000 merrymakers and 12 tonnes of meat were devoured.

Entertainment for the event was headlined by Dr Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi, Killer T, Ammara Brown and local DJs.

A renowned advocate of the “Celebrate Local” concepts and Jive Zimbabwe founder Benjamin Nyandoro believes local artistes are not getting deserved respect.

“Our artistes have capacity and can do much better than most of the foreign acts we invite to perform here. It’s unfortunate that most show organisers at times turn a blind eye on this fact. Yes, diversity is needed, but we should not assume an event can only be big when foreign acts are involved,” argues Nyandoro.

“A closer assessment will show you that often, visiting artistes have been outshone by local talent. We should give our local artistes due recognition. This will help our industry grow. Thousands of dollars spent hiring a single foreign artiste can do wonders in uplifting a number of local performers.”

Events like the Castle Larger National Braai festival present a perfect opportunity for artistes to attract new following.

Thus, it is imperative that local acts go all systems out at such occasions so that they create rapport with existing and potential fans. Winky D usually has no challenges in this regard. In fact, he is a good case study for all serious artistes in the country. But apart from artistes, the festival has also helped promote local businesses. Delta beverages has in the last two editions partnered popular braai spot outlets that include Pahuku, Mega 2, Family 24, Paramount, Farai, Mereki, etcetera. These assist with the braaing of meat for those who do not opt for individual braaing.

Licenced liquor outlets also have an opportunity to be part of the fiesta. Above all, corporate social responsibility is the major motive of this event.

The Castle Lager National Braai Day is a Delta Beverages vehicle to raise funds for Mpilo General Hospital and Harare Central Hospital in Bulawayo and Harare respectively.

A certain percentage is deducted from the total meat and beer consumed.

The braai-master, gig-master and brew-master festival is a family friendly event, never mind gallons of cheap beer at drinkers’ disposal. The country is short of such events as most are held in environs which cannot accommodate families.

“I came with my wife, son and two daughters. Such events help us unwind as we braai, have drinks and at the same time watch some of the country’s finest talents in action. It is not often that we get such opportunities,” confessed Taurai Matipano from Hatfield.

“The event starts early thus we can attend, enjoy and leave at respectable hours,” added Mrs Mareva.

Often when you attend any local concert, there are high chances of meeting familiar faces.

However, that is not the case with the festival in question. New faces are guaranteed. Rather, there are quite a good number of individuals that grace the event but will never consider going to any other gig due to an assortment of reasons.

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