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'Bulawayo edition of Namas will be great'

09 Feb 2013 at 08:01hrs | Views

The announcement of the National Arts Merit Awards (Nama) nominees on Wednesday hit many with the realisation that the country's premier art awards show was finally coming to the City of Kings.  On the 16th of this month at the Large City Hall, the Namas will make their long awaited appearance in Bulawayo.

After years of murmurings and discontent about the absence of key national cultural events on the city's arts and entertainment calendar, the Namas will, however briefly, put a stop to the complaints.

The city will finally get a chance to showcase its abilities and indeed prove that the endless requests for holding the awards in Bulawayo were justified.

When all is said and done, the people of Bulawayo will look back at the awards ceremony with fond memories rather than groans of regret. The stage is set, and all that is left is for the award show's protagonists to assume the roles set for them and give the nation entertainment befitting such a ceremony.

Bulawayo awaits with bated breath the commencement of the festivities.

Who will be the heroes and villains on the night? Many wonder. For a night at least, Bulawayo will be the toast of the country's arts scene, as the country's best pilgrimage to the city and those deserving of accolades receive their due.

For the nominated artistes from Bulawayo, this is the first time in the Namas' 12-year history that they will enjoy homeground advantage. What remains to be seen is whether the advantage of the "12th man" will have a telling effect or not.

From the list of nominees announced on Wednesday, the city was well represented in a variety of categories. Bulawayo maintained its traditionally strong showing in categories like dance, theatre and acting with veterans like Zenzo Nyathi being nominated in the  Outstanding actor in a theatre production, for his role in Stitsha. Sarah Mpofu-Sibanda for outstanding television actress for her roles in two productions, Tshuz Mazikhethela and Reunite.

Once again the two are gracing the Nama list to show their proficiency as actors. Despite the dark unrelenting cloud hovering over the city's theatre and film scene, the staying power of such stalwarts shows that there might be a bright dawn waiting beyond the dark of night. The two are part of an army of city artistes that have shown they are not temporary make up on the face of the Zimbabwean arts scene, but a permanent adornment.

However a host of new names also represents the city's next generation of stars.

Philani Nyoni (most outstanding first published creative work  for Once A Lover Always A Fool), Clive Chigubhu                                  (Outstanding comedian) and actress Qeqeshiwe Mntambo (outstanding television actress for her role in Suku) amongst many others have received recognition. This shows that raw talent still flowers in the city and only a nurturing hand is needed for them to show their full potential.

Clive Chigubhu has hailed his nomination as the culmination of all the hard work that he had put into his relatively young career.

At the  tender age of 22, Chigubhu is one of the rising breed of stand-up comedians that are "killing" people with laughter. Chigubhu and others deliver their brand of death with a smile and a giggle, all wrapped in biting homour that draws from the tragic and triumphant lives of ordinary people.

"Being nominated for a Nama has been a lifelong dream of mine. It feels great to be finally recognised for all the work that I have put into improving my act," said Chigubhu.

He said he also had no doubt that the city would host a stellar awards show.

"This will be a great show because Bulawayo has always been known as a producer of talent and finally the people can get a chance to enjoy the awards show in their own backyard," he said.

Poet Nyoni believes being nominated is the final stamp of approval his infant career was seeking. Nyoni's period as an apprentice of established writers has ended.

"It feels great to be nominated and at the moment I am really at a loss for words. This is a great feat and a timely boost that my career needed and I can only grow from here," he said.

The optimism of the two debut nominees contrasted with the views of Cont Mhlanga who was sceptical of the usefulness of the Namas in promoting the careers of artistes, especially in the theatre sector where Styx Mhlanga was nominated for Amakhosi production The Burrow.

"As Amakhosi we have had our fair share of nominations and that has never really improved the careers of artistes or the centre itself. We would be happy if new names were being nominated because then it would show that the industry still has a lot to look forward to. For repeat winners the awards do not excite that much because you ask yourself what difference do they make to your career and you conclude that it is little," he said.

Despite his pessimism Mhlanga however said that the holding of the awards show in the city was a momentous occasion as it would elevate the city's arts scene.

"This is something that we have been asking for and to finally get it here is a big achievement. For one thing it means that Bulawayo as a whole can no longer be looked at as an underdog. This is an event that audiences can look forward to," he said.

One area that the city will be under-represented is in music where most of the city's artistes failed to make the cut. The city's music scene seems to be the ugly duckling, among its more successful sister disciples and it remains to be seen whether the city's musicians can drag themselves out of this quagmire.

Deputy director of the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe Nicholas Moyo believes the holding of the awards show in the city is a highlight that the city should embrace with the enthusiasm that it deserves.

"The holding of the awards ceremony in the city is an opportunity for people of Bulawayo to view top class entertainment on their doorsteps. The holding of the Namas here is not a way for us to silence the critics who have been complaining that the Namas have never come to Bulawayo but a developmental step to improve the arts in the city of Bulawayo," he said.

After a long wait that seemed destined not to never come to an end, the Namas are finally in Bulawayo. Whether the wait was worth it will depend on how next week's ceremony unfolds. For those that have for years lobbied for the holding of the ceremony in Bulawayo, this must seem like a fairytale. Whether the story of the city hosting its first  Namas ends with happily-ever-after remains to be seen. Bulawayo only has a week to wait before the moment of reckoning.

Source - Chronicle
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