NAMA awards risk losing credibility

The National Arts Merit Awards risk losing credibility after outcries over lack of transparency in the adjudication procedure. The same issue has devoured the Zimbabwe Music Awards and Tatenda Siyabonga Music Awards.

Edith WeUtonga.
Edith WeUtonga.

They all suffered from lack of sponsorship and lost their credibility following severe criticism from the media and the arts fraternity they purported to honour. The music and film category were seen as the most flawed as deserving artists were either not nominated or awarded.

The Outstanding Screen Production showed the highest levels of bias. The comic drama Bhegi Rabvaruka made it into the nomination pool ahead of Sabhuku Vharazipi Part 2 despite signs of being more popular.

In the Outstanding Female Musician category one wonders how Mai Charamba was nominated and went on to win the award having last released The Gospel in 2009. The organisers made a lame excuse that the gospel musician was rewarded for her extensive contribution to the music industry over the years.

If this was the case, they should have given her an honorary award, just like superstar Oliver Mtukudzi and veteran poet Albert Nyathi who previously received the same accolade.

Shinsoman of the MaWaya Waya fame should have also replaced Jeys Marabini to join Sulumani Chimbetu and Jah Prayzah in the Outstanding Male Musician category. MaWaya Waya, Seunononga by Guspy Warrior, Sean Timba from Sulu and Jah Prayzah’s Tsviriyo were the most outstanding songs in 2013.

“The problem here is that the people who run National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (which owns Nama awards) are middle-aged individuals. They only associate with the traditional genres such as sungura, dendera and jazz,” said a fan, Robert Mauwa.

“How can Jeys Marabini, be nominated ahead of Shinsoman in the Outstanding Male Musician category? How can (Mathias) Mhere’s Zino Irema be nominated ahead of Shinso’s MaWaya Waya? It shows that they don’t value the art of young and promising artists.”

Artists blast Nama

Afro-jazz sensation Edith WeUtonga blasted the Namas for awarding Mai Charamba when she had not released any project for the past five years.

“In the year under review both Selmor and I have contributed immensely to our industry and my worry now is if these monitors from NACZ are unaware of the work we have done. That’s so disappointing and discouraging for our young upcoming female musicians.

“Has anyone checked how many times the band Mokoomba has toured? Yet they do not even get a special mention for their work,” she posted on Facebook, sparking similar response from various notable names in the arts industry.

“Most people no longer respect Nama because of that (lack of professionalism) no wonder they don’t want us people who tell the truth to be anywhere close to Nama,” said veteran actress Pretty Xaba. Female hip hop emcee Black Bird who lost to Jah Prayzah in the Outstanding Music Video Category had no kind words for the NACZ. “There is a lot of confusion surrounding criteria used to select the winner of the ‘Most Outstanding Video’ and it needs to be clarified as to whether this category’s winner was selected based on production quality of the music video, as it is supposed to have been, or if it is based on the popularity of the musician.

“Many people don’t understand how my music video, Waiting for Love, that is clearly of an international standard, got outdone by a production which is inferior in terms of scripting, cinematography, locations, casting, editing etc,” fumed Black Bird.

Ironically, Black Bird’s video was accepted by Channel O where it is receiving commendable airplay.

Channel O is an internationally acclaimed music video powerhouse, which beams top quality music video production from around the world.

Nama loopholes

Concerns have been raised on various occasions about who the adjudicators of the Nama awards are, but the NACZ top hierarchy has refused to make them public. It argued that some artists might take advantage of the situation by either bribing or tormenting the adjudicators to tilt the decision in their favour. However, international practice is that adjudicators are made public immediately after the event takes off. They are selected in respect of their extensive work as pundits in a particular field and change every year.

There are three ways in which works can be submitted for nomination. Artists can submit their works, anyone can submit the work on behalf of an artist and NACZ monitors can also do it. Most artists fail to submit their work owing to their remote locations as NACZ only has provincial offices. This is exacerbated by the fact that the arts council only have 10 monitors who are all stationed in Harare. This in itself is a disadvantage to talented and unheralded artists in areas outside the capital.

Post published in: Entertainment

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