Veteran arts doyen Cont Mhlanga believes the current crop of artistes have betrayed the main cause of the liberation struggle as they are failing to fully utilise the resources that were gained through the struggle.
One of the reasons that sparked the liberation struggle was to recapture seized land from the colonial Smith regime and give it back to the black populace.
Gaining Independence led to the building and establishment of Amakhosi theatre in 1981 by Cont Mhlanga, a space which aimed at affording a black child power to participate in theatre and performing arts.
“Amakhosi was born as a result of the liberation struggle so as to give knowledge and power to a black child and be able to participate on theatre stages here in the country and abroad.
“I think from its creation (Amakhosi) to the early 2000s, it was vibrant and the sweats and blood shed during the struggle were being celebrated through theatrical works, with testimony being on how we toured in the 80s and 90’s,” said Mhlanga.
The doyen is a bitter man as Amakhosi is not fully utilised.
This is because the current breed of artistes is not using the free venue for performances.
Actually, he states that Bulawayo has lost performers as from the year 2000, the city is now characterised by, “exhibitors because they are all running to publish their creations on social sites like You Tube”.
“A performer must have an audience, if you don’t attract physical people, you don’t have a right to call yourself a performer you are a mere exhibitor because people are just window shopping your material on YouTube and you are not gaining any revenue,” said Mhlanga.
He continued: “The problem with the current crop is that they think they know everything and they forget old people like myself existed way back before Google was created, we have knowledge of what Google doesn’t know,” said Mhlanga.
He gave a comparison on how money was made by the yesteryear artistes and the current ones he preferred calling “ama 2000”.
“Kudala as Amakhosi we had our own venue, a place we knew would pull our audience and we got money through gate takings and stuff. Our Inxusa festival at Stanley Square was always oversold to the extent that oTshova Mbayiwa would desist from Egodini and come to rank outside Stanley Square.
“This is because we had an audience and we got money out of it. I am not surprised if you see these artistes (current) poor because they don’t have who to perform for and even a venue to perform at,” said Mhlanga.
He said current artistes must take advantage of the advent of social media tools that are at their disposal to attract crowds.
“Back then we would come to the papers (The Chronicle) and pay a large amount of money for us to advertise for a gig, but these current folks have everything on their hands, social media is there for them to market their brands, still they are failing dismally,” said Mhlanga.
He acknowledged that times have changed, and gave options for artistes to create “real audience” online.