We are just past 7 months into the year 2020 and we have had some monumental events in the history of the Zimbabwean arts and culture happening with the year. Six epic events that have re-defined the national trajectory in a major way.
By Plot Mhako
EarGround will chronicle these 6 events and how they have re-shaped the narrative locally and on a global scale.
1. WADIWA WEPA MOYO: Early this year a youthful film production company College Central headed by Derby Bheta a Film and Theatre graduate from the Midlands State University in Gweru who has directed and edited school short films, comedy shows and several programs some that aired on national TV. The enterprising and highly innovative creative director and his team defied the odds to produce an emotionally compelling romantic drama series. The show ran on Youtube and within a few weeks became the most topical subject amongst Zimbabweans. The characters became instant stars with Biko, Man Tawa and Noku stealing the hearts of many.
The series broke internet with each show amassing an average of 100K views per episode. The production will remain groundbreaking and a example of creativity and digital disruption in Zimbabwe.
Full episodes: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCl2ECTMVKOQQ2NPZ56AKrhA
2. MBIRA ON GOOGLE: On the 21st of May 2020 Google paid tribute to Zimbabwe’s national instrument, the Mbira through its interactive Doodle. The recognition was complemented with a mini-documentary on the history of the instrument and a tutorial on how to play it.
The recollection helped correct the narrative on the history of the Mbira instrument and its heritage whose roots are in Zimbabwe.
3. COOKOFF FILM : The film industry in Zimbabwe continues to defy the odds, penetrating new territories and scaling new heights on the global stage. Shot in a very turbulent economy with a small budget of about $8000 USD a few months before the ouster of former and late president of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe, the film is a combination of determination and sheer imagination. Directed by Tomas Brickhill and produced by Joe Njagu the romantic comedy stars rising film-star Tendaiishe Chitima and hip hop star Tehn Diamond in the lead.
On the first of June the film hit the biggest global film distribution network, Netflix becoming Zimbabwe’s first film to be shown on the platform. This grand achievement will go down the memory-lane as a historic success which will inspire the film industry to dream.
4. SHA SHA _ BET Win: South Africa based Zimbabwean music star Sha Sha real name Charmaine Shamiso Mapambiro won the 2020 BET Viewers’ Choice: Best New International Act Award #BETAwards2020. Sha Sha made history by becoming the first Zimbabwean to be nominated and ultimately winning a BET award, the BET awards showcases and awards the best and most beautiful aspects of the Black entertainment experience.
Sha Sha who hails from the eastern town of Mutare will forever be celebrated as a groundbreaking icon in the arts in Zimbabwe and the continent.
5. ONLINE CONCERTS _ The digital revolution: The current global pandemic Covid_19 / Corona Virus which put the world at a near stand-still has adversely impacted on the arts and entertainment industry in Zimbabwe. The local arts sector was already struggling from poor funding, lack of infrastructure and Covid dealt a heavy blow to the struggling budding industry.
In a show of defiance the country’s entertainment players and some audiences were quick to react and adapt to digital platforms as an alternative. We witnessed the emergence of new online platforms and growth of the existing ones.
Platforms and events such as ZimCelebs, Ngoda TV, Passion Java, Zimpapers TV Network, Nash TV, Zimbolive, Trevor Dongo’s Thursday Thursdays, Credisi, Bulawayo Arts Festival, DJ shows / Chabvondoka UK, Earground, DollarBill Entertainment, Bustop TV and several others have since become household names, leading the digital disruption, offering a cocktail of programming from live musical concerts, news, book reading, comedy and gossip.
These platforms have transformed the way entertainment and artistic content is produced, distributed and consumed. The impact will last beyond the pandemic.
6. Booker Prize 2020:Tsitsi Dangarembga. The Award-winning Zimbabwean author and filmmaker Tsitsi Dangarembga, the author behind one of the ‘100 stories that shaped the world was this year selected for the Booker Prize longlist.
The 2020 Booker Prize longlist was unveiled with authors such as Dame Hilary Mantel, Tsitsi Dangarembga and Kiley Reid all in the running for the prestigious prize.
13 books on the longlist – known as the Booker Dozen – were chosen from 162 novels published in the UK or Ireland between October 2019 and September 2020. The shortlist of six books will be announced on Tuesday 15 September. The 2020 winner will be announced in November. The winner of the 2020 Booker Prize receives £50,000 and can expect international recognition. The shortlisted authors each receive £2,500 and a specially bound edition of their book.
Plus _ 100 GREATEST OF ALL TIME ZIMBABWEAN SONGS: Pabodzi Curators compiled a list of 100 of some of the most outstanding musical releases to celebrate 40 years of jthe countries’ independence. The list demonstrated that Zimbabwe’s musical heritage is extraordinarily rich and diverse, harbouring many sounds that have evolved over the course of times. (The researchers are compiling a book on the 100 songs)
The sad and unfortunate reality is that most of this history is undocumented, either in film or in written form. A simple search on the internet will show that Zimbabwe’s musical history is missing. Even sadder is that there is laxity in research on the elements of Zimbabwean music. The project was a step in the right direction. We need to document more.