In a bold move, the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ), organisers of the just-held National Arts Merit Awards (Nama) publicly shamed book writers Albert Nyathi, Farai Mungoshi and Farai Nyandoro among others when it was announced that the Literary Award categories they were vying for had no winners as the submitted works did not meet the set Nama criteria.
The NACZ has come under fire for apparently orchestrating a plan to embarrass the writers by short-listing them, leaving them to attend the award ceremony only to announce that there would be no winner in the outstanding first creative published works and outstanding children’s book categories.
Tears and Scars by Penjeni Madzikangava (Harp Bookz International), Behind the Wall Everywhere by Farai Mungoshi (Mungoshi Press) and Misodzi Yerombe by Kelvin Mangwende (Pen Featherz Media)had been nominated in the outstanding first creative published works category while My Son by Albert Nyathi and Ignatius Mabasa (Imbongi Arts), A Magical Adventure in Chewore by Chellie Conlon and The Unwelcome Visitor by Farai Nyandoro (Jomo Kenyatta Foundation) were gunning for outstanding children’s book.
After the announcements of ‘no winners’ were made during the awards ceremony that was broadcast live on ZBCtv and on several online platforms on Saturday evening, people were shocked and questioned the purpose and authenticity of the awards ceremony.
Two weeks ago though, when the nominees were announced, Nama adjudicators highlighted that there was mediocrity and lack of originality in a number of entries submitted, likely explaining their decision not to award some of the works.
Questionable though was the adjudicators’ decision to go ahead and shortlist sub-standard works.
Commenting on the live Facebook broadcast, one Tirrie Nhewez wrote: “They created problems for themselves. They shouldn’t have announced those categories in the first place if there were no winners. Why nominate in the first place if there’s no originality?”
Some however, including Nyathi said people should not take the feedback in bad light as Nama is trying to build and promote the arts industry so this occurrence should be used as a learning curve.
Nyathi therefore said he had no hard feelings as he respected the Nama adjudicators’ decision.“If we didn’t write things worthy of winning then that’s that. I’ve no problem with the adjudicators’ decision,” said Nyathi.
“We shouldn’t blame them (Nama organisers and adjudicators) because they didn’t see quality work from our submissions.”
Some have since questioned the criteria which Nama uses to select its adjudicators and also, the criteria the adjudicators use to come up with the winners.
Efforts to get a comment from NACZ were fruitless as an email sent to them had not been responded to at the time of going to print.
Considering that the awards ceremony is a brainchild of the arts governing body, the awards show was highly regarded by many artistes but it seems after the 2017 edition, it is now being discredited by many due to varying reasons including Jah Prayzah’s questionable win of song of the year. The Chronicle