There is more to Zim art than just Tuku

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THE only bright spark as far as celebrating Zimbabwe at the just ended Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) was the granddad of Zimbabwean music, Oliver Mtukudzi.
Of course organisers will argue there were ‘many’ Zimbabwean acts but the question is how much was Zimbabwean in their presentations.
The theatre offerings, for example, showed all things ‘bad’ about the country.
At the conclusion of HIFA one’s summary would be that the country has nothing good to offer.
From the theatre perspective, its all doom and gloom in the country.
Thus the performance by Mtukudzi was the only tiny spark of light at the festival.
Tiny spark in the sense that Tuku is not the only best artiste the country has to offer.
The country’s arts industry has so much to offer; artistes who tell the Zimbabwean story without bias but these were nowhere near HIFA.
Anyway it was a delight to see Tuku perform.
The superstar, beyond doubt, still has it all; charm, charisma and swagger.
That, like wine he gets better with age, might be a cliché but it is one that best describes the music supremo.
Watching him on stage is a revelation of what discipline and respect for the craft will bring an artiste.
Clearly his act never gets boring or old.
Consumers of his music never get enough of him.
Many were disappointed, not with this evergreen artiste but the time allocated him.
The ‘Mtukudzi and Friends’ one-hour slot at HIFA left his diehard fans yearning for more.
Most fascinating is the musician’s capability to accommodate and work with literally any artiste including wannabe artistes.
While many have gone to town dissing Mai Mtukudzi, Daisy, for a shoddy performance alongside her husband, I found her presence on the stage quite a refreshing experience.
It was not at all a horrible but a lovely sight to see the highly accomplished musician patiently and understandingly crooning with his wife.
Her evident lack of musical skill did not at all distract or diminish the prowess of her husband, as her valiant effort failed to pay off, the superstar gallantly carried her on.
It was a moment in which one who is totally clueless walks away feeling good, never knowing they were terrible because so bright would be the light they have walked in.
When Mtukudzi performed with Winky D, the Ninja president, it was a case of a veteran melding with the best of the new.
It was a serving that delighted and sent revellers into a frenzy.
Winky D, arguably, can be described as the best among his peers.
He can, for he has stood with the giants and has not been overshadowed.
Shoulder-to-shoulder, head-to-head he stood with the maestro and proved his mettle, he was not engulfed but delivered an act that had all appreciating the pint-si zed dreadlocked artiste as much as they appreciated the granddad of Zimbabwean music.
In fact, many wanted the Zim dancehall king to have his own slot, they could not get enough of him.
It seems Winky D has taken a leaf or two from the book of the superstar, his act never gets old.
While many in the Zim dancehall shine and then fade away, the Ninja president has stood the test of time.
He has not been a one hit wonder.
And like Tuku, he has delighted with both albums and live shows.
While some of Winky’s peers have shone in their recordings many have been dismal when it comes to live performances.
So good has been the Zim dancehall artiste that he has outclassed international acts that he has shared the stage with.
Lest I get carried away with Winky D, let me get back to the inimitable Tuku.
Other friends who featured alongside him included Tariro neGitare.
Tariro alongside the musician who began his career maybe before she was born was in her element.
Delivering the maestro’s ballads flawlessly, one could not help but give kudos to Tuku for inspiring the younger generation.
If only HIFA could give us more of these acts; Zimbabwean acts that celebrate Zimbabwe than just seek to drive it into the ground.
If indeed it’s a Zimbabwean arts bonanza, then Nicholas ‘Madzibaba’ Zakaria, Leonard ‘Karikoga’ Zhakata and sungura ace Alick ‘Baba Sharo’ Macheso, among others, deserve to be part of the festival.
While Tuku is a great artiste, he is just one of the greats; there are others who are equally good, who are also a story of success.
And if the organisers are sincere in showcasing the Zimbabwean story and sharing it with the world, then they must feature them in their programme.

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