The Sunday Mail
IT seemed inevitable that the carnival story would have a tragic ending.
The continuous announcement by ill-informed MCs that King of the Dancehall Beenie Man was set to perform at the carnival, coupled with horrendous stage management, was a perfect script for a catastrophic conclusion of the 10-day fete.
Remember the audience consisted of mostly people that had been drinking the whole day and had been promised the best entertainment.
This is notwithstanding the attempted 10pm speeches, planned sungura and gospel performances in the wee hours of Sunday morning. That was some terrible programming. A very bad idea!
That is why television and radio stations employ programme managers. Knowing what programmes to put in the morning, the crossover to noon, midday, drive time, et al. It is the same concept with carnivals, concerts, etcetera.
The people in charge of the carnival programme, especially at the main venue at Robert Mugabe Square, surely had no idea what they were dealing with. In fact, I believe that even if they understood what was required – they had no capacity to handle the situation.
Suffice to say things really got out of control and the people in charge failed to handle the situation – someone else, however, deserves kupihwa sando (respect). Were it not for him and his DJ; the owners of that stage, the marquee, PA system, lights, etcetera – would be busy with paperwork for insurers to replace part, if not all of that equipment.
Godfatha Templeman and DJ Gary B – who call themselves the Immortal Movement – managed to do the impossible that night. In the process they saved not just the aforementioned equipment but other valuables like cars that were parked at the venue.
With hooligans having taken the opportunity created by the chaos to pillage while some abused any woman in the vicinity – there seemed to be only one way that huge party was going to end – disastrously.
The police had already tried to intervene but they too were overpowered by the crowds and seemed unsure how to proceed until Templeman got a call from his DJ.
“I could tell that things were getting out of hand and needed a different kind of intervention. So I called Templeman and luckily he was nearby having come to pick up his wife and kids from the carnival.
“He quickly came backstage and soon took control of things that had degenerated into chaotic scenes in a few minutes,” said Gary B, real name Garry Chiwala.
The engineers and other backstage staff mistakenly assumed that switching off the sound at 2am for a crowd that had been promised uninterrupted joy till Sunday afternoon was a good idea. The chaos had been precipitated by a lack of action on stage after Winky D’s performance. In fact, blank gaps between acts were just too much throughout the set.
With Beenie Man far away in Jamaica and Soul Jah Love taking long to get on stage, violence broke out. The masses invaded the stage and the arena went quiet as engineers stopped the music in the hope that this would drive away the angry crowds.
Things worsened – the VIP marquee came under attack, in fact, virtually everything was in danger of being destroyed – then the Ghetto President, the man who answers to the name Simbarashe Maphosa, came to save the day for an event sponsored by another Maphosa (Justice) of BigTime Strategic Group.
Bolt Cutter spoke to Templeman: “The SA guys backstage were shaky. I asked them to switch on the sound and allow me to speak to the people but they would not budge. As the situation worsened they had no choice but to try me, but then they only turned on the microphone. We could not plug in our mixers and laptop for the DJ. However, it was still enough.”
Templeman, who has performed with Gary B in almost every high-density suburb in Harare and had been part of the Carnival Passa Passas that took place in various suburbs around Harare – had a big test ahead of him.
“There is communication and trust that has been built between us and music fans. In 2010 we did over 20 Passa Passa shows with Red Rose Entertainment. We are part of almost every major show in Zimbabwe – we know what the fans want and how to talk to them.
“(Karikoga) Kaseke and his team put a lot of effort in planning that event. The President through Youth Interface Rallies has endorsed Zim dancehall – there was no way we were going to let those youths spoil that event.”
Templeman managed to convince the youths to calm down and Soul Jah Love eventually took to the stage and did his 45-minute set, finishing at around 2.55am.
The crowd still needed action to last them till morning, and Gary B and Templeman did not disappoint. And even after a three-hour set – Templeman continued to talk to the youths and took part in a rigorous 500-plus-man selfie shoot.
As the sun came up and the crowds dispersed, Templeman went home, having saved the day and probably hundreds of thousands of US dollars’ worth of equipment. Yet, he was not even part of the line-up that night and therefore, no payment is due to him.
For his heroics, for ensuring the carnival ended well, I just thought I would salute him through this space.
Thank you Godfatha Templeman and Gary B. When next you are on radio, play yourselves “Sando Dzangu” by Winky D – it is my dedication to you.