Cultural moments waft into the popular imagination

Admire KUDITA

A CULTURAL moment “consists of the things that people regularly allude to in their thoughts and their talk regardless of what is happening in their personal or work lives” in a given period of time.

Sometimes these cultural moments waft briefly into the popular imagination and sometimes they can stretch. It just depends on the fuel that feeds them and, these days, social media plays its part in fanning the flames. In the past year we had a few but this year has started with quite a bang.

Showgirl controversy

Long before South Africa’s Zodwa waBantu and even a while after, why does Bev Sibanda — the local stripper and nightclub dancer — evoke so much emotions? Last week, she announced her marriage to one British-based “doctor” (who turned out to be a nurse). Zimbabwe was abuzz with the news of what, judging by the speed with which the story and images spread on cyberspace, a gripping cultural moment. Bev is, for better or worse, someone who is quite famous in this country.

She embarked upon her journey in Gwanda as a member of Zalabantu Dance Group. She later went solo in 2008 as a pole dancer. Later on in 2011, Bev together with other dancers formed the Sexy Angels. She went on to become one of the most sought-after and controversial dancers Zimbabwe has ever produced. Her shows garnered the frenzied attention of male night club patrons and club managers battled to sign up her group for performances. Bev’s manager Harpers Mapimhidze was ever in tow and making sure she was paid. There was demand and there was supply.

Wild child

Bev is a wild child and her history is replete with controversial headline-hogging antics. In 2012, she angered Delta Beverages over her infamous and jaw-dropping stunt involving a Castle lager bottle. The company’s officials were irate and demanded she desist from using their bottles “in that manner”— in reference to the dancer’s controversial “Bottle Dance” routine. Bev insisted she was actually pushing Delta’s brand. The rest, as they say, is history. Bev as a showgirl was a Madonna of sorts; one whose very value proposition for entertainers is her ability to shock and awe, and boy did she deliver! The more they fought her, the more the tabloids hovered over her life like flies.

Going to the chapel

For me, the shocker was the moment it was announced that Bev had found the Lord. The year was 2014 and Bev joined the equally headline-hogging Prophetic Healing and Deliverance (PHD) which was founded by self-styled prophet Walter Magaya. I was incredulous though I rebuked myself because I know that the Lord works in mysterious ways! To cut a long story short, Bev stayed at that church for a while. I had wondered what Harpers, her manager, would do now.
Join the church and be a deacon? Personally, I believe that is where PHD lost the plot if they had really intended to lure Bev away from her life in the fast lane. They should have thought of Harpers. I am just saying.

Some critics say Magaya just wanted to promote his church using Bev and that he had never been really sincere about setting Bev up in the clothing retail shop business. Bev would soon leave the church, citing jealousy and frustration amongst other matters. I suppose it takes a lot not to be the centre of attraction anymore and to have to wait on “the man of God”, to look after you and of course Harpers!

Today

The reason why I decided to tackle this subject is the hypocrisy which I find is attending the Bev marriage saga. She just got married to one Mufudzi Chambuka, a Zimbabwean UK-based nurse and the cyber streets have gone gaga over the matter. I have read some social media posts, presumably by a female writer, that “it’s always been prostitutes that get married”. Of course the remarks amount to a slur on Bev’s character. Does it follow that pole dancers are women of easy virtue? Well, what of her leering customers?

What do we label them? Society, since that Biblical woman caught in adultery, has always had double standards when it comes to judging women for perceived indiscretions. Men will walk away scot free and probably get a pat on the back, but not a woman. She will be mauled. Yesterday, I even read an article on one of the online tabloids, complete with the audio of a woman who reportedly is owed a motor vehicle by Bev’s new husband. The woman is quite eager to spill the guy’s beans. The indictment on us is that, with all our pressing national troubles, we spend our energies on such issues.

Parting shot

In Zimbabwe, you can never move on if you are a woman who was once embroiled in some tawdry scandal. Someone will dredge it up. But maybe with Bev, who has defied corporates and even the police, the energy is wasted. Let Bev enjoy matrimonial bliss.

She needs the retirement plan and with Chambuka, Bev may have found exactly the man after her heart with as controversial a history as she does. It is a match made in tabloid heaven. Maybe Bev needs this hoopla, because nobody knows what her second act will be!

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