NAMA Legends Edition: Epic, nostalgic, magical

Wow! That was a legendary display of creativity. Iam still awe struck from last night’s National Arts Merit Awards the legends edition which honoured 40 living legends who have contributed immensely to Zimbabwe’s creative trajectory. The event which beamed online on multiple platforms including the national broadcaster ZBC was such a marvel to watch.

By Plot Mhako

“A well thought, researched, mind-blowing showcase and celebration of legends”

After the Covid_19 pandemic hit the world early last year, creatives were not spared and a number of them have not been able to create and work properly in their desired spaces and a lot of projects took a sneeze and NAMA caught the cough making it unable to host the traditional competitive awards.

However, the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe and its production partner Jacaranda Culture and Media  Corporation had a brilliant card up their sleeves. They pulled in a big joker in the form of a Legends Edition, an event that would celebrate 40 years of Zimbabwe’s independence whilst appreciating some illustrious sons and daughters of the soil who have toiled for years to capture our lives, entertain, heal, unite, celebrate, represent our richly diverse cultural and creative heritage at home and beyond.

At the announcement of this decision i was skeptical of the move. I felt there had been artists who had defied the pandemic to create and those should be awarded for their resilience a spirit that aptly defines a Zimbabwean. I also had a good share of faith given the last edition of the awards which was mind-blowing.

National Arts Council of Zimbabwe director Mr Nicholas Moyo clearly explained the rationale, their vision and his confidence allayed my fears but what was to come out yesterday was beyond my imagination.

Hats off to you Sir!

National Arts Council of Zimbabwe Director Mr Nicholas Moyo

The event which was hosted by songstress Ammara Brown and supported by multi-talented artist ProBeatz, comedian Mafotty was cut with finesse. The Mukoko hit-making diva who was exquisitely dressed steered the ship with so much ease, exuberayting great aura and passion as she took us through the creative journey. The voice over artist was on point and gave a legendary feel to the announcement.

Ammara Brown

In a statement the Minister of Youth, Sports and Arts Hon. Kirsty Coventry remarked, “The legends to be honoured today are people who have had an indelible impact on their different disciplines. These living legends include pioneers, innovators and consistent contributors in fields such as the manufacture of the Mbira musical instrument, Film, theatre, music, dance, visual arts, literary arts and the spoken Word.”

Minister Kirsty Coventry

The show opened up with a gem packed diaspora line-up of Bekezela (SA),  Brian Nhira(USA), Cindy Munyavi (USA), Sani Makhalima (Australia), Tina Masawi (Spain), Vimbai  Zimuto (Netherlands), Vusa Mkhaya (Austria) who all sang the national anthem. The inclusion of diaspora based artists was befitting considering that Zimbabwean artists have since become global citizens as they are scattered the world over making the international space their stage.

Zimbabwean artists from all disciplines are of world-class standard and well sought after. A lot of them have previously won a NAMA award before.

The introduction was followed by an emotionally moving tribute to some of the artists we have lost in the past year. With a rendition of James Chimombe’s Kudakwashe performed by Tariro Negitare, Sylent Nqo and Jose Sax.

Minister Kirsty Coventry, deputy Minister Tinoda Machakaire, permanent secretary Victoria Chitepo and the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe director Mr Nicholas Moyo took turns to present the gongs to the 40 artists from across the creative disciplines. Accompanied by a short history for each artist, their contribution and an acceptance speech the awards ceremony reminded the nation of many legends that shaped our lives and imagination who are still amongst us.

The results were impeccable!

A star studded selection of artists brought to life some of the old great songs such as Marshall Munhumumwe’s Rudo imoto and Ilanga’s True Love performed by a cross generation. Busi Ncube, Mzoe 7, Tamy Moyo, XQ, Shammex and our brother from another mother Eriki nailed it. This is what the new generation need to do more, “dig deep into our rich music heritage”

Nutty O, Dj Tamuka, Poptain, Anita Jaxson together with some amazing dancers closed off the show with a remix version of Kokai. It was lit.

There can never be a perfect show, there are a few things that could have possibly have been done different for instance a more wider selection of creatives to perform or showcase apart from the dominance of music, however the bigger picture was impressively painted.

NAMA executive director Napoleon Nyanhi

“the event was further testimony that the creative and cultural industries in Zimbabwe have the much needed potential to get the national bird flying high again and inspire the whole nation to dream and re-imagine”

Kudos to the National Arts Council, their partners, sponsors and the entire production team who made this historic event possible.


  1. Aaron Chiundura Moyo
  2. Adam Madebe
  3. Albert Nyathi
  4. Alick Macheso
  5. Barbara Makhalisa-Nkala
  6. Barnabas Chadamoyo
  7. Ben Mahaka
  8. Bothwell Nyamhondera
  9. Chirikure Chirikure                
  10. Cont Mhlanga
  11. Daves Guzha
  12. Dominic Benhura
  13. Ellen Mlangeni
  14. Felix Moyo 
  15. Fradreck Mujuru
  16. Helen Leiros
  17. Irene Chigamba
  18. Jasen Mphepo
  19. Jesesi Mungoshi
  20. Joe Njagu
  21. Joyce Jenje-Makwenda
  22. Lovemore Tshuma
  23. Matesu Dube
  24. Musaemura Zimunya
  25. Nakai Matema
  26. Nicholas Zakaria
  27. Nkululeko Innocent Dube
  28. Pathisa Nyathi
  29. Paul Chidyausiku
  30. Rashid Jogee
  31. Shimmer Chinodya
  32. Stella Chiweshe
  33. Stephen Chigorimbo
  34. Susan Chenjerai
  35. Susan Haines
  36. Sylvester Mubayi 
  37. Tapfuma Gutsa
  38. Thomas Mapfumo
  39. Tsitsi Dangarembga
  40. Zexie Manatsa

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