The Sunday Mail
Takudzwa Chihambakwe and Andrew Moyo
PRIOR to Busy Signal’s recent tour of the country, the promoters promised Zimbabweans a “musical experience they have never felt before”.
But showbiz is a jungle that requires a special skills set to navigate, and the promoters — Y2K — learnt this the hard way with their first attempt at promoting an international act in Zimbabwe.
With a big artiste such as Busy Signal at their disposal and corporates like Fly Africa throwing their weight behind them, it looked like Y2K had it all figured out.But showbiz is a jungle that requires a special skills set to navigate, and the promoters — Y2K — learnt this the hard way with their first attempt at promoting an international act in Zimbabwe.
However, the scent of disaster was in the air from the moment the Jamaican superstar touched down at Harare International Airport and it would only grow into a righteous stink by the time tragedy struck in Bulawayo.
Many have tried to decipher what really led to the abandonment of the Bulawayo gig, and it still remains a puzzle.
Although Busy Signal performed in Harare, the show failed to pack a punch as it attracted a crowd that barely covered half the ground as opposed to his maiden tour where he filled up the Glamis Arena.
Organisers overestimated the power of Brand Busy Signal and went to sleep when it came to marketing.
It was as if the show was an Internet hoax.
Y2K only started pushing the show aggressively when Busy Signal arrived in Zimbabwe, parading him around the capital and staging mini-road shows.
But once young fans see their idol and take pictures up-close, closer than they ever can in a stadium, they are done. You won’t see them at the gig.
Promoter Barbara Chikosi aka Mai Redrose did it with Capleton and she paid the price.
Most international acts who come to Zimbabwe — including Busy Signal himself last year — get the royal welcome: convoys of luxury vehicles and media conferences.
This time around, Busy Signal was whisked away in a minibus soon after touching down. A socialite tried to add some glitz by providing a Mercedes-Benz later.
And then of all the leisure spots in Harare, organisers had to choose the very small Legends Bar and Grill at Newlands for the welcome party.
Then after leaving their hard-earned cash at the door with the hope of partying with their favourite dancehall star, fans had to swallow the disappointment of Busy Signal not showing up as he “rested” in his hotel room — and instead sending his brother to cover for him.
Some many recall the fiasco during Busy Signal’s 2015 visit when Patrick Hundu of Long Cash Entertainment tried to get the artiste arrested on fraud allegations.
This time Hundu was the marketing executive of Fly Africa, the anchor sponsor for the show.
An impeccable source told The Sunday Mail Society that after recognising their old enemy, Busy Signal’s camp was furious and demanded to know why Hundu was involved.
It took much negotiation to cool tempers and thankfully Busy Signal agreed to bury the hatchet.
With Fly Africa being the anchor sponsor, one would have imagined that travel around Zimbabwe was going to be easy for the Jamaican and his crew.
However, a trip to Victoria Falls was cancelled under unclear circumstances, with organisers claiming that “time constrains” were to blame.
Mind you, Busy Signal was around for a whole week.
For his gig in Bulawayo, Fly Africa planes were still out of the picture as the Jamaican contingent are believed to have “requested” to go by road.
On the night of the Harare concert, accreditation of performing artistes took place a few minutes before the show started after the majority of their managers had been harassed by overzealous security personal hired by Y2K.
The show was slated to start at 8.30pm and only began at 10pm owing to delays in setting up the sound system.
Another annoying factor was that there were too many people assuming position of authority. This resulted in harassment of fans and frustration all round.
The height of this disorder came when security personal were involved in physical clashes with show organisers, with the latter accusing the former of smuggling people into the show.
Y2K’s Zimbabwe representative, Brian Hazangwi, tried to shift blame to local promoters, saying they sabotaged the shows.
“A lot happened from the moment Busy Signal entered the country to the weekend of his performance and we suspect that we were sabotaged by our colleagues in entertainment circles,” said Hazangwi.
“We would want to tell those involved that we know you but we will not focus on that because our mandate as Y2K is to promote music and we are going to do just that.”
How and why other promoters would want to sabotage these guys is a mystery that might be difficult to solve.
But Y2K says it has learnt its lessons and will be back again.
“We are returning again next year with an even bigger and better festival that will most likely feature a top American artiste,” Hazangwi vowed.