Vagrants sleeping on gold pavements

31 May, 2020 - 00:05 0 Views
Vagrants sleeping on gold pavements

The Sunday Mail

ONE of the most unique things about growing up in the village is that you develop an “odd” palate for creepy-crawlies such as termites (majuru), winged termites (ishwa/inhlwa) and the spiky mopani worms (madora/amancimbi).

In the disproportionately anglicised world that we live in, such delectable delights are viewed as “odd” by our hoity-toity folks because they are not served up by chefs in outlandish toques and flowing white chef dresses.

Such false presumptions can only be made by those who have not travelled far and wide.

They would not possibly be expected to know that in some parts of the so-called “civilised” world such as North America and the western United States, bullfrogs (madzetse) are hunted like rabbits, while bugs of every kind are also part of the cuisine.

It is a similar trend in most parts of Asia and some parts of Australia.

Bishop Lazarus knows that this might certainly be a controversial subject, especially at a time when the world is united in untold grief owing to a disease — Covid-19  — that is thought to have originated from bats at a wet market.

However, nothing divides opinion, allegiance and tribes more than eating field mice (mbeva).

You see, various species of mice — house mice, field mice, wood mice, zebra mice and dormouse — are considered more of pests than a delicacy.

Therefore, for some, it is unconscionable to even entertain the thought of considering them as relish.

Not Bishop Lazi, who considers himself a connoisseur of creepy-crawlies.

There is nothing as sumptuous and heavenly as the sonorous crunch of peppered and roasted mice on a skewer. Divine!


While using mouse traps made of ex-foliated rock boulders and Y-shaped stilts was the method of choice for catching them, Bishop Lazi does not know why the hell he was sometimes conscripted into arduous mice-hunting missions.

Dear reader, you will never imagine how chaotic and taxing this practice is.

It is simply insane.

In a typical hunt, one of the participants would use a long stick to prod into a burrow, while the rest of the team would form a circular cordon ready to pounce on mice issuing out from the bolt-hole.

Mice burrows only have an inlet and a nearly-there outlet called a bolt-hole that is undetectable from the surface.

So the bolt-holes could be anywhere.

Apart from the odd probability of poking and incensing a resting snake, the real ever-present hazard was painfully sjamboking each other while trying to account for a litter of mice darting to safety in every direction. Kikikiki.

Those were the old days.

Bane for party animals

Coronavirus and attendant lockdowns meant to curb its spread have confined most people around the world, including in Zimbabwe, in their burrows, fearing the lurking danger of a highly infectious and fatal disease the modern world has ever known.

Fatigued individuals, however, are slowly emerging from their bolt-holes and venturing out.

Of late, police have had their hands full trying to account for those violating the current restrictions.

They have really been caught up in unenviable mice-hunting expeditions.

Arguably the most grief is being felt by our local artistes and their paymasters — the party animals.

Musicians, most of whom rely on live shows for their meal ticket, are clearly down in the dumps.

There isn’t any conceivable way they could be allowed to gradually reopen like other sectors.

Like, really, how is it even possible to social distance party animals that have the penchant to flail hither and thither on the dance floor?

Or how could it be possible to keep face masks on a raucous crowd trying to sing along to the sound of their favourite artistes.



New Ways

Yet our artistes need not be neither poor nor be of modest means.

They should be rich.

Many folks do not know half the things that go into producing creative works.

For musicians, it is not simply about strumming the guitar, but tickling its strings in a rhythmic and harmonious way that creates an enchanting symphony.

In sungura music, for example, this symphony is then melded with a harmonious voice and didactic lyrics.

This is what is called creativity, which is the hallmark of the arts industry.

And the Bishop uses the word industry advisedly.

The bane of local artistes is that they do not consider their craft as an industry in the strictest sense, and some do not know that they should consider it so.

Technically, creative works — which are a product of inventiveness and ingenuity — are intellectual property that is copyrighted and patented.

Surely, this cannot be compared to the work of deadbeat paper-pushers in both the private and public sector that are simply paid for turning up to work.

Intellectual property can only be enjoyed by those who buy it or pay for it on various platforms through royalties.

Back in Bishop Lazi’s day, in addition to generating revenues from live shows, musicians could always count on sales from record bars that could be found around the country.

Even music record labels were prepared to pay musicians decent sign-on fees.

The world has changed and we should change with it.

There are evolving platforms and streaming services from which artistes can get rich pickings.

Remember that South Korean musician Psy of the “Gangnam Style” fame?

He actually grossed more than US$2 million for the two billion views his song got on YouTube.

In fact, in the US, YouTube’s payout rate is as high as US$3 per 1 000 streams.

Average per-stream payouts for Spotify — also a digital music and video streaming platform — average US$0,006 and US$0,0084.

This is comparable to other platforms such as Apple Music.

This is why some artistes such as South African Black Coffee are millionaires in US dollar terms and can afford to live in posh homes and drive high-end cars.

It is the same with AKA, Cassper Nyovest and Nigerian musicians such as Wizkid and Don Jazzy, among others.

Our very own Oliver Mtukudzi also made a mark and was at one time considered as one of the top 10 bankable artistes on the continent.


There is definitely money to be made out there.

Covid-19 should be a wake-up call for local artistes, their representative bodies and managers.

For starters, the Zimbabwe Music Rights Association (Zimura), as a copyright asset management organisation, should actively ensure that it recovers the royalties owed by broadcasters.

Our sole terrestrial television broadcaster reportedly owed artistes over $600 000 by the end of last year.

The Bishop hopes it was paid as promised.

There should also be a framework where there is an auditable logging system in bars and restaurants that can be used to collect royalties and distribute them to artistes.

A strong representative body is imperative, as has happened the world over where their artistes are successful, because some organisations use gratis licensing (which allows them to use creative works for free) as a fig leaf to rip off the desperate and unfortunate.

Also, there is a need to declare an all-out war on piracy, which seems to have increasingly become a euphemism for theft, and promote formal channels that can ably channel royalties where they are due.

The enabling protocols such as Harare Protocol on Patents and Industrial Designs; the Banjul Protocol on Marks; and the Swakopmund Protocol on the Protection of Traditional Knowledge and Expressions of Folklore are there.

President ED has already shown he is willing to assist local arts and culture, and he personally attended the launch of the National Arts, Culture and Heritage Policy in Bulawayo on November 30 last year.

The time is now to restructure the industry, which has the potential to generate
massive revenues, including foreign currency.

The Holy Book says hard work has to be rewarded.

Proverbs 14:23-24 says: “All hard work brings profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty. The wealth of the wise is their crown, but the folly of fools yields folly.”

Proverbs 28:19-20 adds: “A hard worker has plenty of food, but a person who chases fantasies ends up in poverty. The trustworthy person will get a rich reward, but a person who wants quick riches will get into trouble.”

If the arts industry does not get its act together, our talented artistes will continue to be paupers.

They will also be reduced to delusionally considering success as being able to buy untitled residential stands and driving around in second-hand jalopies when in fact they should be living large.

Bishop out!

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