The Sunday Mail
Andrew Moyo and Takudzwa Chihambakwe
SIX years after coming onto the scene, urban cultural fete Shoko Festival has yet to sparkle, let alone attract any significant numbers.
This year’s edition held last week at the Zimbabwe Museum of Human Sciences and Chitungwiza Community Hall Grounds, left a lot to be desired as it resembled an ordinary midweek gig rather than a major international festival.
Many would have thought that the festival would have by now found a flowing pattern, but besides getting a central place to host the event and running an interesting tech-oriented session dubbed Hub Unconference, everything else just seems not to be coming together.
Instead of improving, the event has actually been spiralling downwards, with critics citing poor marketing and lack of solid artistic direction as some of the drawbacks. The absence of a capable artistic director was more pronounced this year. The festival programme appeared to be organised on paper but all the wheels came off on execution. The major disappointment was the hip-hop night on the first night of the festival with poor coordination making it appear as though it was a disorganised open mic session.
Organisers should have been a bit more serious. Artistes like Ti Gonz were allowed to go on stage besides arriving late visibly intoxicated. Another artiste who needs to get his priorities straight is Mandla the Comedian who has grown at the festival but now suddenly think he has made it and has the right to perform under the influence.
On the issue of imbibing, it is also important that the artistes know that they are supposed to be performing to a paying audience and not to a crowd at their backyard party.
All these loopholes could have been covered up or avoided had there been an artistic director overseeing the entire programme.
Marketing was pathetic once again this year with posters only going up two weeks before the festival. There was no hype whatsoever in the build-up to the event.
Festival director Sam Monroe argues that their budget was the reason why they could not implement a solid marketing plan.
Poor marketing might have been the cause for the reduced attendance figures for the first two days of the event, which targeted a paying crowd, however, the line-up could also have been a factor.
The festival has in the past been headlined by solid acts who include AKA, Tumi, Cassper Nyovest, Tony Rebel, HHP and Tall A$$ Mol and Loyiso Gola, to name just a few but this year’s main man, Emtee, failed to rise to the occasion.
Day two promised to be a bit more electric considering that some of the biggest names on the local music scene at the moment, Soul Jah Love and XQ, were set to take to the stage, but still there was nothing much to it as the atmosphere remained mellow.
While XQ had a good day in office as he managed to get the paltry crowd pumped up, the poor sound system let him down. Soul Jah Love also had to make do with a system that would have been better suited for a house party rather than a festival.
As with previous years, the Peace in the Hood Concert which was held in Chitungwiza free of charge might as well have been the major highlight of the event. Maybe the organisers must just adopt this particular concept for the whole event as it is more vibrant and attracts the numbers.