Zimbabwe Showbiz: 2013 in Review
By Garikai Mazara and Shamiso Yikoniko
On Tuesday, the sun sets on yet another year and this past year, like any other before it, has had its ups and downs.
The downs will most likely be read to mean the passing away of icons in the arts and entertainment circles, notable being Chiwoniso Maraire, who at 37 had not reached the prime of her life.
But if her death shocked the nation, it is the manner in which her remains were treated by her family that left many wondering why such a leading traditionalist could have been denied the chance to be viewed by family and friends one last time.
Neither was her body allowed into her Bluff Hill home, nor the Chimanimani homestead, where she was laid to rest next to her equally famous father, Dumisani Maraire.
But that is to put the cart before the horse. 2013 began on a rather lukewarm note. Sulumani Chimbetu declared at the beginning of the year that 2013 was going to be his year.
True to his word, Sean Timba, which features Jah Prayzah, was the song at any gathering over the festive season and it was little surprise that the dendera musician was to make the National Arts Merit Awards, held in Bulawayo for the first time in their history, a Sulumani affair.
Also making news at the Nama Awards was The Sunday Mail’s Mtandazo Dube, who scooped the Arts Reporter of the Year award, an award he should have won the previous year.
But if Sulumani had any ideas to make 2013 his year, Jah Prayzah equally had better plans for in the first quarter of the year he released Tsviriyo, which was to be followed by a DVD album in the second half of the year.
Because of their dominance on the sungura scene, Sulu and Jah became the most-sought-after combination of the year, leaving Alick Macheso in awe, for his album Kure Kwekure, released at about the same time as Sulu’s, was to be little or no match.
To compound Macheso’s woes on the music front, a group of his former backing artistes, calling themselves Extra Kwazvose, came on the scene in June, amid mixed reactions.
Some thought they were good, others reserved comments while Macheso dismissed them as a bunch of dancers. Word on the streets is that they are waiting for Macheso to release his next album then they will put theirs on the market, so that the fans will make the final judgment.
As if the gods had some sinister plans for Macheso, Tapi Phiri, a 62-year-old Chipinge man, came out and claimed to be Macheso’s father. Not much attention was given to his claims. Receiving similar cold shoulders was Paddington Kamusakara, who claimed to be Simon Chimbetu’s son.
The Chimbetu family disowned him and argued that Simon never made any mention of him. This is in spite of the striking resemblance between the claimant and Simon.
The discovery of Paddington was through unfortunate ways. He was “discovered” at the funeral of Angela Chimbetu, Simon’s widow. As the Chimbetu family commemorated the eighth anniversary of the passing on of Simon, Angela was somehow overwhelmed with the occasion, leading to her admission to Chitungwiza General Hospital, and unfortunately, she was never to recover.
She was buried on August 26 at Warren Hills Cemetery. Another looming figure in the arts industry, particularly film and television, Godwin Mawuru, the founding producer and director of the country’s first soap opera, Studio 263, was to pass on. That was on May 24. Many will attach his name to the country’s first feature film, Neria.
It would be heretic to mention the film industry in Zimbabwe without using the name Godwin Mawuru in the same sentence. After Selmor Mtukudzi went solo in February, disengaging herself from husband Tendai Manatsa, musically that is, she was to launch her album in March, where it was to be shown publicly, probably for the first time, that there were fissures in the Mtukudzi family.
Oliver did not bother to attend his daughter’s album launch, and later on during the year, when the music icon turned 60 and the arts industry gathered for a massive dinner and commemorative live show, Selmor returned the favour and chose to be in Bulawayo instead.
It was not only Mtukudzi who was attracting the attention of the arts industry, for Mechanic Manyeruke, who has spent four decades praising and worshipping God through song, got a tribute concert as the year wound towards its end.
Eyebrows, however, were raised when the organisers of the tribute show promised him a Jaguar XF, whose presentation ceremony has since been shifted from this December to March 15.
That Alick Macheso was equally promised a car, or were they cars, of a similar cost and build at the beginning of the year and is yet to drive any, might lead to speculation that someone is out to get cheap mileage.
But the cheap politicking was not limited to cars only. Album launches were another platform were businessmen and politicians found it cheap and easy to market themselves.
So it was not surprising to see screaming headlines that told of Jah Prayzah’s album being auctioned for 12 grand. It somehow became a chorus at every other album launch, to include young Peter Moyo’s Mushonga Mukuru, that such and such had paid so much for the auctioned CD.
As much as father was celebrating 40 years of ministry through gospel music, Guspy Warrior, born Emmanuel Manyeruke, was torching the dancehall music scene, especially with the track Ita Seunononga.
It was not only a Guspy affair, for other names like Dhadza D, Shinsoman, Freeman, Gary B made noise throughout the year. In a way, dancehall music made its mark on the year gone by.
Piracy continued to haunt the arts industry and stakeholders are still in a maze as to what they should do with the scourge. But some observers are wondering why and how, if deterrent jail sentences have worked with livestock theft, the same should not work with piracy?
Intellectual theft is as good as stock theft.
So it was with little surprise that the arts industry watched the re-birth of the Gringo series, this time as a feature film and its success on the box office was heavily dented by piracy. Similarly, when Sabhuku Vharazipi made its premiere, a red carpet affair, the success it made in the newspapers was not matched by financial returns as piracy took its toll.
The Harare International Festival of the Arts, popular to many as Hifa, came in April and, as usual, thousands passed through the turnstiles to celebrate the diverse industry that makes up local and international art.
But where Hifa were continuing with their success story, the same could not be said of their partnership with Delta, which saw D’Banj landing in Harare for a once-off gig.
This being the same platform that Beenie Man came into Harare and left many licking his fingers. Same as the platform that the Nigerian twins, P-Square, used to entrench their love with Hararians. But when D’Banj left, cynics were quick to change his name to D’Junk.
Many thought Amarra Brown, the late Andy Brown’s daughter, stole the show that night, with her strip-tease show. Or was it? It has always been an old-age saying, that sex sells. This year gave two contrasting scenarios, though. One that proved the adage right and the other wrong.
First it was Pokello who entered the Big Brother Africa house, ostensibly on the “success” of her leaked sex tape with Stunner.
True to her colours, she went into Biggie’s house, and came out with a lover, Ghanaian Ellikem (in-between was the public dumping of Stunner before an Africa-wide live television audience) and the two are now an item, with the Ghanaian claiming that he does not give a hoot about the tape.
Then Tinopona Katsande tried the same trick — and she lost. After her sex tape hit the streets of Harare, ZiFM responded by firing her and within weeks of her dismissal, she had picked up her pieces and was hitting the streets in a fund-raising campaign for Natasha Sanyanga who needed an urgent operation in India. No one seems to have cared enough to follow up on what happened to the little girl.
Also seeking Indian help was singer Edith Weutonga, whose son also needed corrective surgery for a congenital heart disorder. Star FM celebrated its first year anniversary and, indeed, it was not a year without its ups and downs. At about the same time, leading presenters Tich Mataz and DJ Munya were hauled before the courts, albeit on different charges.
Mataz was accused of lining his pockets while DJ Munya faced charges which read like an adaptation of Macbeth. But on a positive side, the radio station made its mark on the airwaves and left its footprint across the country and is now receivable at almost every corner.
And predictably, the public broadcaster was not without its woes. After going for several months without salaries, workers at ZBC were shocked to learn later, when an inquiry was conducted after the sacking of Happison Muchechetere as CEO, that he was getting a package close to US$40 000 per month.
It would be an incomplete 2013 without any form of energy. Musician Energy Mutodi was to be hauled before the courts, and stayed for a considerable time in remand, after facing allegations of swindling home-seekers of their hard-earned cash. His case is still pending.
Another musician to have a dance with prison was Dudu Manhenga, who was convicted of culpable homicide after she knocked dead a motor-cyclist. She is out of jail as she appealed her conviction and sentence.
Mary Mubaiwa-Chiwenga, who now holds the licence to the Miss Zimbabwe pageant, claims that there are not enough beautiful girls in the country, and as such she has found it wise not to hold the pageant this year.
While her assertions might be arguable and debated to no end, Tare Munzara had other ideas and brought beautiful girls from across the globe for the Miss World Heritage pageant. As of last week, some of them were still stranded in Harare.
While the year began with Hosiah Chipanga introducing sermons at his live shows, it ended with his water supply being disconnected after he failed to pay his dog’s licence fees.
Then Thomas Mapfumo, who was reported in the first half of the year to be heading for a massive home-coming live show, has only two days left to come and stage it before the year ends. Sunday Mail