Roil Bulawayo Arts Awards impressive

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Some of the dresses were pure Hollywood. There is really only so much that chiffon can cover on a female body. I really might have been Alice in Wonderland or Charlie in the Chocolate Factory if I were a fictional character. We saw mermaids gliding down the red carpet on Saturday. I pinched myself and found that I was awake in a fantastic dream. It was vintage: stirred but not shaken strutting toward the entrance and via the red carpet.Arthur C. Evans must have visited the same stylist as me and several others. There we were channelling James Bond once more and the classic Bond look never gets old.

By Admire Kudita

A starry night

I was many things but not out of my depth and felt that we all belonged to this night of a thousand stars. Each person seemed to be drinking it all in whilst eager to place their own mark on posterity. Thus, as the paparazzi had their snapping feast on stars, ‘starlings’ and wannabes, most made sure to be noticed. The feeling was giddy and the excitement was palpable.It was glamourous company with everyone looking for a night of make believe and distraction. Willis Wataffi was there as nominee and so was Tytan (him of Mukoko fame). They looked dapper than the Dapper Don John Gotti. Sarah Mpofu-Sibanda, the modelling agency boss and current Miss Tourism franchise holder, rocked what she called a protest hairstyle. You had to see it to grasp my bemusement. Who wasn’t there? Black, white, coloured, and any other were there as was his Worship the Mayor of Bulawayo, Martin Moyo, up in the Mayor’s gallery.

The difficult part

How indeed does one write about the awards event and what are the superlatives one uses to paint a properly magnificent picture of an event whose organisational strength and breathtaking beauty has no national parallels?

The awards were truly glamorous in terms of the dress code; the women were decked out in all their regal and dazzling finery. Of course, there was the brother who claimed to have landed from a flight from the Ukraine. He was dressed in a blue track jacket and cap inscribed “NY” with white jeans. He was sitting at my table. He was killing our vibe. I told him as much. He smiled smugly and goodnaturedly. I felt righteous in a bow tie and fancied my chances on the ‘dance floor’ if it came to that. But since the ladies looked at him disprovingly, I was satisfied that I was scoring marks at his expense and such is life.

Respect

The night was about rewarding those who respect the showbiz game and craft. You put your heart on the line and you ‘die’ spilling your guts on stage, trying to get them to love you. And it is sheer magic when they do. The Boy Asaph, a nascent rapper and challenger to Cal_Vin’s Zimbabwean hip hop crown, stormed the stage and owned it. The crowd roared its approval. He had them at the end of the performance as they clapped wildly for him. It was coming; his award and it did. He won the Best Hip Hop act award in a hotly contested category that had the likes of T1nda, Mu$e, Msiz’ Kay and Cal_Vin. Aldrin ‘Beefy’ Harrison the boss of the Zimbabwe Hip Hop Awards, presented the award to him together with Bulawayo rap authority Thorne.

“ZOL I am ready to work,” said ASAPH in his acceptance speech and in response to the digital company’s regional manager Theopatra Nkomo’s earlier pledge to support the arts by making some of the artists brand ambassadors and doubling their commitment to the now popular awards.

Stand out moments

The mix of choral music and contemporary dance as an opening act was fresh and innovative. Another standout moment was the medley of golden hits from Calvin Gudu, Majaivana and Cool Crooners fronted by X-Mile, a gifted South African vocalist and former A-Academy singing contest finalist. Most special for me was the following award.

One of Bulawayo’s enduring imbube ensembles Black Mfolosi of Unity fame was given a lifetime achievement award co-presented by United Refineries chief executive Busisa Moyo and acting director of the National Arts Council Nicholas Moyo. Last year Cont Mhlanga carried the award home. Bulawayo has many legends living and dead. Cool Crooners, August Musarurwa, Dorothy Masuka, Don Gumbo, Lovemore Majaivana to name a few. The list of legends to honour is long. Let me add that the whole show was a standout with the icing being the Mbo Mahocs dress. She was one of the anchors on the night. The only female.

Time watch

But the event did last a very long time. It must have been four hours. Starting time was two hours late. This needs to be fixed. The producer must simply mark time. Three hours is good enough if one must stretch and the show need not wait for the fashionably late to begin. I suppose I get the fact that the fans want a chance to sashay on the red carpert and take selfies with their friends and with preferred celebs.This ‘peacocking’ ritual takes time and, as it happens, it seems the ladies will always need it. It is a dilemma.

Fashion police

One or two of the awards fashion cops needed their own hands in cuffs. They murdered fashion. I suppose it took one with bad taste to recognise another. These self-styled local arbiters of fashion taste pounced on a couple of offenders who were really the exception on this night.The Roil Bulawayo Arts Awards 2018 was streamed live online by the Centre for Innovation and Technology, ZBC Online (before disrupting to broadcast a political “celeb”). I expected no less from the ‘national’ broadcaster.

Parting shot

This year the event only upped the ante with a devastating combo of music and dance in a show choreograped by Mehluli Dube and Richard Ndlovu, a creative sector veteran and produced by Saimon Mambazo Phiri. Bulawayo proved yet again that contrary to the opinion of the uninitiated, this city is a multi-cultural melting pot of tremendous talent in all the arts genres from music, film, fashion, modelling, dance, theatre, literature and even dee jaying.

It is in this column that I informed you about what happened at last year’s inaugural arts awards in the undoubted cultural capital of Zimbabwe. Corporate support was substantial this time with title sponsor United Refineries putting down $20 000 to carry the bulk of the expenses. At the time of going to print, the figures for the other sponsors were not in my hands.

Not everyone would have been happy with the awards, but judging from feedback on social media chatrooms, next year is too far away for those that attended. Well done, team Roil Bulawayo Arts Awards!

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