PEOPLE who have a soft spot for local art productions have often wondered why the work of Bulawayo artistes is not celebrated and unfamiliar with many in the city that has over the years been acclaimed as the cultural hub of Zimbabwe.
It boggles the mind why a majority of people in the City of Kings and Queens appear to recognise and appreciate musicians that reside in Harare and other areas that include Gweru, Kwekwe and Mutare among other places.
Consequently, the biggest questions that have continuously begged for answers are: Who is to blame? Are artistes failing themselves or the media and producers are giving them the short end of the stick?
Social media has also gone on overdrive with many Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp users wondering if Bulawayo artistes don’t really market themselves and their works. The other camp argues that “Bulawayans” naturally tend not to support their own while with others, the question that has come to mind is: “How do we support you when we don’t even know you?”
A section of fans believe Bulawayo artistes are cry-babies who expect handouts and inexplicably feel entitled to support by their kinsmen.
“If they feel they are not appreciated, they should look in the mirror instead of pointing fingers. They should humble themselves and ask the Harare guys what makes them so popular. If for years they have been ‘marketing themselves to no avail’ then they should have realised by now that their strategy is flawed. They should revise it. They should do more collabos with the popular guys. In these days of social media, you can’t be whining about lack of marketing,” said Joseph Dube of Gwabalanda suburb.
“Some market but their stuff is trash,” observed Langa Ndimande on Instagram in a debate about the issue. The age old debate raged on and award-winning artiste Novuyo Seagirl, in an interview, posited that lack of funds is one of major barriers that has proved to be detrimental to Bulawayo artists.
“We will always be criticised or judged but what people don’t really know is that it requires a heavy budget to make it. There’s a lot at stake and without adequate resources and finances, it is almost impossible to reach your desired targeted market or height,” said Novuyo.
Afro soul artiste, Mj Sings said lack of positive attitude from Bulawayo arts followers towards the works of the city’s artists was pulling them down.
“On my side, Koloyi is probably still one of the biggest songs on ZiFM from Bulawayo but many people from the city still don’t know it. When I go to Harare, the entire audience will sing along to this song”, said MJ Sings.
He added: “Lovemore Majaivana’s music is known all over the city, who is marketing it? The artiste’s purpose is to create the art and if fortunate enough you have a marketing team, then it becomes easier but the biggest marketers of music are your people.”
Partly concurring with Mj Sings, hip hop artiste, Asaph, also said it takes more than an artiste to market themselves and their work, underscoring that marketing agencies and promoters in this industry, also play a part.
“I believe an artist’s job is to create the art, then marketing agencies, promoters and managers make sure the production gets as much exposure as possible. Do we have platforms like Nash TV in Bulawayo, where people can be exposed to our content? Artistes are doing all they can with what they have, it’s time for other parties in the entertainment industry to assist,” thundered Asaph.
One therefore opines that in as much as there may be so many hindrances, an artist worth his or her salt has to know that there are alternatives to consider to get their works recognised and celebrated.
These may include creating more business pages on social media platforms, hosting more local shows and collaborating with other artistes who have a good fan base and following just to mention but a few from the infinite list.
Chief operations and senior social media manager of Amp Street Agency, Arthur Mumba, said agencies, to some extent, market artists’ work but there are certain limitations.
“Agencies may be limited by financial constraints as they use their own funds in order to support and market an artist, “said Mumba.
He added: “On the other hand, some marketing agencies only want to associate with artists who are well known and bring traffic to the media. Some may also market artists when there is an upcoming event such as awards. This is the only time where they market an artist, in order to push votes.”
One may contend that the dependence of artistes on marketing agencies and fans for marketing their works sometimes becomes null and void especially when the artistes do not up their game in the quest of getting acknowledgement.
Kwaito award winning artiste, Mzoe7 said, while he has been getting a positive response towards his works, there was a need for artists and consumers of arts content in Bulawayo to work hand in hand for the benefit of the former.
“I believe that both parties should play a pivotal role and work together in order for Bulawayo to rise. The gap between the people and the artists has to be closed, eventually. In my career people have learnt to appreciate lots of creative works and I think this is how I have succeeded,” said Mzoe7.
However, no one could explain why Lovemore Majaivana, who was also shunned by audiences in the city until he gave up music, is now arguably the most sought after artiste from the city.
Countless online petitions and campaigns have been launched to persuade him to return by his “thousands of adoring fans from Bulawayo.”
Maybe residents just appreciate good things when they are no longer around.
Look at the case of Cal_Vin, everyone was clamouring to honour him after his death when they had all but ignored him when he was alive.