By Takudzwa Chihambakwe
Sungura maestro Alick Macheso is set to headline two gigs in Johannesburg, South Africa, as part of his 53rd birthday celebrations.
The shows, dubbed Macheso @53, will be held on June 4 and June 5 at Germiston Lounge and Newtown Music Factory, respectively.
The ‘birthday weekend’ fete, which is being hosted by ExtraTime Entertainment, gives the artiste’s fans in Mzansi a rare opportunity to watch him live in action for the first time since the advent of the coronavirus pandemic.
Macheso, better known as Baba Sharo, has only participated in virtual gigs since Covid-19 hit our shores in March last year.
This will be his first time playing in front of a live audience, though outside the country.
Baba Sharo will be supported by Dino Mudondo, Nox, Tyfah Guni and Ras Bleds, among others.
Traditionally, the sungura singer’s birthday bashes are held in Chitungwiza.
“We have decided to honour the king of sungura’s 53rd birthday in song and dance by hosting these shows at two different venues in Johannesburg,” said ExtraTime Entertainment boss Tongayi Mbidzo.
“The plan is to have these celebrations in Mzansi every year going forward. We were behind the late Dr Tuku’s (Oliver Mtukudzi) birthday bashes that we also held here annually, and we are now pleased to be working with another legend in the form of Alick Macheso as he celebrates his birthday with his South African fans.”
The shows come at a time when local live concerts have been on ice for over a year as part of measures to curb the spread of the virus.
Bars and nightclubs, where live shows are often held, remain closed.
Virtual gigs have become the new normal.
However, only a few artistes have managed to make meaningful revenue through online platforms.
Resultantly, since the relaxation of lockdown restrictions in South Africa, local musicians have been making a beeline for Mzansi for live gigs.
Nearly every weekend there is a Zimbabwean artiste performing in different venues in South Africa.
But again, it is only the trendy and crowd-pulling singers that are benefitting from the “new” window of opportunity.
ExtraTime Entertainment has done four shows with Nox and Tyfah Guni in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria after getting the green light from South African authorities.
Also, Andy Muridzo is still fresh from a successful two-week outing in Mzansi.
“Well, as you know, much of our revenue comes from live shows, so the opening up of South Africa was very critical as we can now start to generate income once again,” said award-winning dancehall sensation Nutty O.
“Recently I was performing in South Africa at the Africa Unite show, which was largely dominated by South African acts, and fans were also mainly from Mzansi. This helped me to expand my network in that country.”
Nutty O reckons the need to cautiously open up for local live concerts.
“Health is more important than anything else, so we should follow regulations as given by authorities and avoid dire situations. But, it has been way too long now without gigs.
“My feeling is we should have events permitted to take place under strict monitoring and observation. Let’s take a leaf from South Africa and allow events to be staged,” said the “Safe” singer.
Local authorities say they remain wary of a possible third wave of the pandemic, which has started affecting other countries across the globe.
But all that glitters is not gold.
Recently, dancehall act Van Choga found himself stuck in the rainbow nation after a misunderstanding with his promoter.
The singer and his colleagues were only saved after an outcry on social media.
“South Africa presents an opportunity for musicians being invited to connect with new and old fans. However, the money being offered at times is not what people would accept when things are functioning normally. But because of the prevailing circumstances, artistes are forced to take up the deals,” revealed Mbeu, an Afrofusion artiste.
Trending dancehall star Poptain also shared his thoughts.
“It has really been a tough couple of months for us, but I am just grateful to God that we can now earn something from the music, which is different from before.
“We are hoping better things will come in the near future. South Africa has been a real blessing. We now get a chance to interact with fans and hope we will also be able to do the same here at home.
“We really appeal to the Government to assist during these tough times. Since we cannot stage performances, my thinking was why not get an allowance from the authorities to help sustain our livelihoods? The Sunday Mail