NAMA: A time to shine

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Winky D with his awards during NAMA awards on Saturday night. Picture by John Manzongo

THE National Arts Merit Awards (NAMA) is a time for artistes in the country to shine as they get recognised and rewarded for their artistic works through receiving gongs for excellence.
These honours are a major highlight for artistes as they subsequently define and certainly boost careers.
An award will always feature prominently in the winner’s life.
This year’s edition of the NAMA returns to Harare, slated for Reps Theatre, Belgravia, this weekend.
NAMA is one of the biggest award ceremony in the country and is regarded as an important yardstick for effort and contributions from local artistes.
In a statement, organisers revealed there is a 72 percent increase in entries this year.
“The 17th National Arts Merit Awards (NAMA) received a resounding total number of entries of 1 334; giving a 72 percent increase from last year’s entries of 775,” read the statement.
NAMA remains one of the nation’s top awards ceremony celebrating the arts and the increase in the number of entries reflects the artistes’ desire to have their works recognised.
The award has been a massive morale booster, especially in an industry that has not had huge financial rewards for practitioners.
Just the tag of ‘award-winning artiste’ has done a lot to retain players in the industry who might otherwise have abandoned the industry. 
“Winning an award is nice when it happens for the artiste, it increases their confidence, that recognition alone is evidence that what they are doing is worthwhile (sic),” said arts critic Nyasha Chakanyuka. 
“NAMA has grown over the years to become an event where big names hand out awards, big names receive them and big names perform. In other words, it has become a big event on the arts calendar,” she said.
But is a NAMA important?
“The NAMAs are a big deal to the artistes as well as the audience. Some people have been known to buy an album or go and see a movie that they might otherwise skip just because the album or movie has been nominated for an award. The NAMAs work the same way. The artistes care if they win and so do the audience (sic),” said Chakanyuka.
NAMA caters for eight categories that include music, literary, dance, visual, theatre, media, spoken word, film and television.
According to the organisers, National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ), the music category received more submissions than other categories.
“Of the eight NAMA categories, the highest increase was in music with 539 entries for the four awards categories,” read the statement.
But do these awards really matter to the artistes?
“There are two categories of musicians. There’s a category of musicians for whom the NAMA is the end goal (to win critical acclaim), as well as kudos from fellow industry people, that’s what they’re working towards. And there’s a category of artistes for whom the NAMA is incidental. I think you see this a lot in the dancehall genre where a lot of artistes appear not to be really concerned about awards but the message they are getting to the people, for these if they win that’s nice, but if they don’t they’re not seeing it as any kind of shock to their careers (sic),” said Chakanyuka.
One hopes that in terms of logistics organisers will this year do a better job.
Some past editions of NAMA have not lived up to the billing due to ‘poor’ organisation.
The organisers have been faulted for not doing enough preparations and trying to put everything in place at the last minute.
NAMA organisers have battled with lack of sponsorship which has resulted in the event failing to provide significant monetary prizes for the winners.
There have also been complaints regarding the selection of nominees, with some complaining of lack of transparency in the selection process.
The NACZ revealed that online submission had increased the number of entries and improved quality.
“Some of the entries were identified by monitors who were appointed by NACZ and kept an eye on any excelling artistes throughout the year,’’ said NACZ.
For the selection process, a panel of independent adjudicators was appointed to preside over all the submissions.
According to NACZ, the adjudication was based on submitted entries together with monitors’ reports of both individuals and institutions.
However, the adjudicators expressed misgivings on the literary works submitted.
“A high number of literary works are self-publications; these have numerous errors and unforgiveable grammatical and technical mistakes, thus affecting ultimate products as well as exposing writers’ glaring editing shortcomings.
“Most submissions of music videos lack imagination and creativity.
“Many artistes do not invest in hiring producers as they prefer to produce and direct the filming of the video(s) by themselves. This compromised the quality of the submitted film product,’’ said NACZ.
The previous 16th edition of NAMA saw Winky D, Ammara Brown and Jah Prayzah scooping awards.
Winky D got two accolades; Outstanding Album for the explosive Gafa Futi album as well as The People’s Choice award.
Who will be the multiple award winner this year?

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