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'Bulawayo artistes more popular outside Zimbabwe'

by Staff reporter
17 Feb 2019 at 08:08hrs | Views
Southern region artistes say they are more popular outside Zimbabwe due to a number of reasons, chief being the imbalance in airplay which favours artistes from the other parts of the country.

Although the artistes have been able to penetrate the often hard-to-crack international market, most artistes from the southern parts of the country have found it hard to get local recognition.

The death of decorated musician Oliver "Tuku" Mtukudzi recently ignited a debate around what being an international as opposed to being a national artiste means, with some pundits arguing that, while most artistes from Matabeleland are not recognised nationally, they have managed to create their brands across the borders, hence they deserve the tag "international artistes".

Matabeleland is rich with globetrotting artistes who are talented in music, dance, art work and many more, but these find it better to showcase their talent outside Zimbabwe.

Some have also failed to get appreciation from their own backyard as people from the north prefer artistes from South Africa ahead of them, forcing them to relocate to the capital, Harare.

The misfortunes of the artistes in Zimbabwe and fortunes outside the country are largely attributed to unbalanced airplay by radio stations, which are skewed towards content from the northern part of the country.

The status quo has seen artistes such as Lovemore Majaivana, Sandra Ndebele and Afrika Revenge, among others, relocating to Harare, while Fanyana Dube moved to Mutare. However, some artistes found solace in going international and Standard Style caught up with others who shared their views.

Umkhathi Theatre Works founder Matesu Dube said the country is divided according to tribal lines.

"Zimbabwe is a country that is divided on tribal lines, this was deliberately done by the Robert Mugabe regime. This tribal division led to the sidelining of artistes from the southern parts of the country such that our music doesn't get much airplay on national radio," Dube said.

"However, this wasn't the case in the early 1980s where radio presenters played music without favour, you could listen to [Solomon] Skuza, [John] Chibadura, Majaivana, Ndux [Malax], even Kwejani Band from deep down Dete on national radio. So, as a way of making a living, artistes from the southern region had no option, but to market their products internationally where they eventually got recognised."

Heather Dube of Nobuntu group said they feel appreciated more outside than here in Zimbabwe.

"We are more popular outside Zimbabwe because we are appreciated more there than at home. People don't value our own music unless and until you make it outside there that's when they start recognising you. This could be because of ignorance or because our arts sector in the country doesn't pay much, hence we artistes are looked down upon," she said.

Her counterpart at Nobuntu Thandeka Moyo echoed the same sentiments saying: "The cause is that people in general find anything that's foreign more appealing than local."

Duduzile Sibanda, also of Nobuntu, said it takes time for people to pay attention to something new.

"I think locally it takes time for people to really pay attention to something new, for example, us. It took a long time for people to understand, engage and accept what we did because it was unheard of for girls to sing imbube, but outside Zimbabwe it was unique and ear catching instead, hence them wanting more of our music," she said.

Iyasa director Nkululeko Innocent Dube said the local market has been receptive to a few artistes.

"Most of our craft is tailor-made and adapted for international audiences where we are better-received and our craft is more lucrative," he said.

"The local market has tended to be unfriendly for artistes from the region. To start with, they have to compete with the much-favoured or rather more visible and better-exposed and marketed South African artistes.

"Many people watch South African television, listen to South African radio and music. Locally airwaves are dominated by music from the capital city where most of them are controlled and managed from.

"Without airplay, music or any other art craft is bound to be suffocated. The community radio stations do not have nationwide coverage. That alone pushes local artistes out of the local market, hence they then find solace in the international market."

Albert Nyathi said music varies depending on the event.

"It depends and it's some artistes perhaps from this end in the north may not be popular in some music circles in Europe. When they are popular, it's in places like the UK and South Africa because that is where Zimbabweans mainly are. I have seen Iyasa and Black Umfolosi launch their products and they are important in their own right," Nyathi said.

"The other thing is there is less music from Bulawayo played on our national stations. Any national radio station can play 10 songs without playing music from Bulawayo and in fact instead, they will then play music from South Africa to cover up. They must be balanced air play at our national stations and even television."

He said small stations like SkyzMetro FM and Khulumani FM were trying but they would be limited on the radius.

"They will be someone in Kariba, Plumtree or Chiredzi who will be wanting to listen to the content of the stations because they have a specific product, but that opportunity is not offered to them to be heard across the country," he said.

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Source - the standard

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