Stand-out award moments of 2016
The last quarter of 2016 saw the country being rocked by a wave of award ceremonies, most of them new. Since their proliferation, the awards brought into the arts and social circles more confusion than celebrations and accolades.
From broken dreams to social media jibes, the awards season provided jaw dropping drama for keen followers who saw some of their stars turn into heroes, as the villains also showed face.
It would not be prudent to write about awards and ignore 3rd Generation band leader, Jah Prayzah who sent shock waves across the country when he won Zimbabwe’s first Mtv African Music Award through his People`s Choice Award.
The Mudhara Vachauya hitmaker had promised spreading his brand’s reach to the continental market and the coveted accolade was a seal of approval signalling that he must be treading on the right path.
The crooner’s absence at the ceremony raised questions among the showbiz faithfuls, questioning the artiste’s seriousness, as he missed one of his highest career moments due to “other pressing commitments.”
The local scene was not short of its own Awards Ceremonies as they started mushrooming towards year end much to the delight of artists and the amusement of critics.
Mudiwa at the SOFA Awards
Perennial awards clown Mudiwa refused to let the awards flame die without him exhibiting his theatrics for the world to see and ridicule. Despite his flamboyance, he still struggles to keep his awards record intact, same with the accolades he handle.
After self-imposing himself as Trevor Dongo’s representative at the ZIMA Awards the previous year and receiving a backlash from the Ndashamisika singer last year, Mudiwa decided to bring new talking points in 2016.
Jah Prayzah, who seems to have a habit of absconding award ceremonies was not present at the SOFA Fashion Awards and Mudiwa decided to accept the award on his behalf.
Mudiwa dropped Jah Prayzah`s award and social media was awash with memes and humorous messages making fun of the self -proclaimed “Slay King”.
He later told his side of the story claiming a lack of coordination between him and the presenter, but the internet jury was not buying his version of events.
After the Style Oracle Fashion Awards (SOFA), Mudiwa and his long time arch-rival, Stunner were in a war of words as Mudiwa questioned Stunner’s eligibility for the Most Stylish Artist award, which he won.
In typical Stunner fashion, the Godo hitmaker hit back, cautioning Mudiwa through his social media account advising him to focus on himself.
The two exchanged jibes and fans on social media seemed to side with Stunner.
Despite how the exchange ended it seems the two flamboyant rappers have a long standing vendetta which is nowhere near conclusion.
Zim Hip Hop Awards
hosting and drama
The contentious Zim Hip Hop Awards also brought with them a fair share of drama. It was at these awards where Stunner almost manhandled author Charles Mungoshi for allegedly touching his wife Olinda inappropriately.
After some pushing and shoving, the rapper’s wife saved the day by dragging him out of the awards venue as he continued to show signs of rage towards the motivational writer.
Among the event hosts on this day was hip hop wheel spinner, Dj Towers. The visible fixture in Zim Hip Hop was selected because of his popularity with hip hop fans and his continued appearance of multiple productions. However, his debut on the events hosting scene was a rude awakening.
His attempts to bring practical jokes backfired because the crowd was not moved despite all his frantic efforts. He ended up denting his resume. The more he tried, the more he appeared confused, the same way comedian Baba Tencen fared at the Anne Kansiime show in the capital last year.
Hip Hop’s golden boy Cal-Vin walked home empty handed despite being the most nominated act prior to the awards. Some saw the snub as the beginning of the rapper’s fall from grace. But the Bulawayo born lyricist maintained that he was still a force to reckon with.
Zimbabwe Radio Awards
The first edition of the Zimbabwe Radio Awards should get the gong for being the most deferred arts event in Zimbabwean history. It took several instances of doubt and assurance before the country had the first ceremony honouring local radio personalities.
The Herald reported that the event lacked the glitz and glamour effect at the event which was marred by poor sound and organisational misgivings. Even the turnout was not as expected, which justified the postponement notices that had become a regular fixture in the local media.
With recurring scenes of this nature, sections of the creative industry had been complaining that the new found obsession with award ceremonies was detrimental to the growth of local art.
Art critic and Jibilika Dance Festival Director Plot Mhako recently came out expressing concern over the increasing award ceremonies.
“Awards platforms are indeed necessary but having many awards with titles alone and no substance is a mockery,” Mhako said.
He said some of the award ceremonies had unconventional selection criterion which made them difficult to authenticate.
“A lot of these mushrooming awards platforms lack integrity from the organisers, the nomination and adjudication criterion thus adding no value to the recipients and the respective sector,” said Mhako.
He added; “There is an unexplained stampede in wanting to award our peers and ourselves, the end result is we end up celebrating mediocrity.
Most could be doing it for money but at most it is for a clique of friends with an undying penchant for self-aggrandizement and appeasement.” Mhako said, award ceremonies if not handled well could deal a blow to the progress made in the creative sector.
“Awards play a big role the world over for creative arts. They inspire and stimulate growth by rewarding artists and setting a benchmark for quality,” he said.
The same awards which carry a motivational element can demoralise the energy out of an industry if due care was not taken.
“However, if not well handled they can demoralise an industry and potentially kill growth. Sadly, we have seen various awards platforms repeating the same mistakes and not taking heed to protests and advise from stakeholders,” he said.
Mhako said time was usually a great yardstick to measure character and some events had stood the test of time like the Zim Hip Hop Awards which recently held its sixth anniversary.
John Cole, a multiple award winning choreographer said both the increase and criticism of awards ceremonies were to be expected.
“Award ceremonies indeed have increased in the last couple of years and depending on each man’s or woman’s view, the purpose of the awards is different. Thus allowing a lot of criticisms or praise from community which at the end of the day is all show business,” he said.
Cole said like with all other ventures in local arts opinions were always existent.
“Anything done or founded will attract a lot of attention, some of it with pure intention on discrediting the awards. However, as artists we must always think of the future, not of the tomorrow alone as out seed planted today will be the seed that holds many branches which will be the pinnacle of our industry as a whole,” Cole said.
He added: “Not everything started smoothly, it is still a refining process. Awards organisers just need to ensure that all nominees, the pubic and corporates understand the criteria, purpose and vision of their award ceremony.”
Besides the poor organisation which characterised most of the local awards ceremonies, Cole believes the many award was an indication of the growth of the industry.
“Awards don’t stop the growth of an industry. The last time that I checked, they help in the growth of the industry, regardless of how people take it. A lot of winners and nominees have gone to do great things in the industry.
“Maybe the greatest disappointment is the disorganised nature of some of the awards which leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth, this needs fixing,” he said.
The celebrated dancer was honoured on numerous occasions and considers the accolades to be a lucid documentation of his prowess to generations yet to come.
“It is a great and overwhelming sensation winning an award and it will be documented in history for the following generations to see that they had a great grandfather who made a difference in the world,” he said.
Cole added that awards could be regulated and it was not possible to put barriers to entry and exit.
However, authenticity would be determined by how they fare over the years and the levels of seriousness they exhibit. Zimbabwe still lags behind in hosting high profile events but steady progress has been made over the years.
With the awards competing with the artists in numerical terms it remains to be seen whether they will impact the wailing arts industry positively. We wait to see the drama brought by the 2017 instalments of these awards.