Monday, 5 November 2012

When Mediocrity Becomes An Addiction

I have tended to develop apathy for Zambian events. Do not get me wrong, I do support ‘Proudly Zambian’ products. I buy Boom products, Maheu, Amanita Oil and the list goes on. However, when it comes to events organised in Zambia that is a different league altogether. After attending a few horrible events that I was left nearly in tears, I decided not to attend anymore. I was not shedding tears for the money but the time I had wasted that I would never get back. Fortunately, this past Saturday I attended an event that gave be a flicker of hope in this dark doldrums.

Caitlin's electric violin performance

If an event is organised in Zambia, please do not have high expectations of it. Prepare your mind for something to go wrong. Events in Zambia, border on poor sound system releasing white noise, the microphones not working, the master of ceremony boring as hell, the stage not being ready in time, the programme running late, the performers putting up an amateurish exhibition of their talents and asking the DJ to increase the volume on their CD. Sadly, these are expectations that I have come to live with, in my beloved Zambia.
The previous Saturday morning, I had a date with the beautiful Caitlin. For many people, she is still an unknown except for the few who have heard this talented beauty perform. She is an internationally renowned electric violinist. And yes she is Zambian. It gets me wondering what was I doing while she was learning to play the violin, busy with Sojo? She was having a free performance at Manda Hill by the escalators. It was a chance I couldn’t miss. In true punctual style, I was there in anticipation waiting for her to strum that instrument. Shortly after 11:30 hours, she came down the escalator while caressing the strings of the violin to a booming beat from the speakers. There was a stage at the bottom which she strutted from one end to the other while performing pieces like Serengeti Sunrise and Neyo’s ‘Let Me Love’, among others. By this time, the crowds began to gather mesmerised by the foreign sound they were hearing. It was something different from the Fruity Loops laced ubiquitous tracks we are forced to listen to.
Immediately, Caitlin’s first performance was done, Chi the Hot FM DJ laid down the morning’s programme. It was not known to me before the announcement that there was also some fashion show at which different clothing shops at Manda Hill were going to be showcasing their Summer Wear.  It was supposedly the conclusion of the Month of Fashion. The models began coming down the escalator in various postures and stepping on the runway with authority and poise, and up the escalator they went before the next model did the same. In my opinion, the use of the escalators as part of the runaway was absolutely genius on the part of the organisers. Clothing shops like Total Sport, Mr. Price, Ndanji Fashions, Identity and others showed off their clothes (both men's and ladies wear) and it culminated in a local designer showcasing her summer designs.

Models on the runway

I must admit that I am not one for fashion and my fashion taste is almost non-existent. As long as I do not look like a clown or a flower when I wear something then I am cool with it. So it was interesting to see what was really transpiring before my eyes. I should also confess that the reason I was keen on following the proceedings was that I was waiting for something to go wrong. I had my mobile video camera ready to take the next tragedy in my Zambian event's memories. One of those Youtube like videos that become hits. I was expecting one of the models to tumble, the escalators to stop working, the speakers to just go off, and the models to bump into each other or the master of ceremony to apologise for some technical fault beyond their control.
Amazingly, none of the mishaps I was expecting to happen did. I was shocked, how can an event in mother Zambia go smoothly? It is impossible. I had become so used to mediocre events that I was failing to accept that I could attend an event without some form of frustration when it was all over. It almost felt like I was not attending a Zambian event and a piece was missing. I think I am still in denial. It is what attending many substandard events has done to me. I cannot believe that people can be professional about their work and take it seriously. Even if the event was free, the professional manner in which it was organised was so refreshing, I wished many of the amateur event planners were there to see it. 
I cannot wrap my head around why most events in this country are pathetically organised? Is it that hard to start an event on time, have a proper sound system, perfect transition between breaks, an MC who actually knows how to do their job and performers who do not get out of bed and realise that they have a show but actually rehearse for it weeks in advance? Even when renowned musicians such as Salif Keita and Oliver Mtukudzi performed here last month, they had to endure the bad sound system they were provided. It is not only musicians who are culprits but pretty much everyone who organises an event- comedians, poets, theatre houses and even conferences.
The team behind the well organised event on Saturday are R & G Events. They successfully hosted the Beer fest last month and are building a formidable reputation for themselves. These guys are giving me hope at last. Things in this country can be done better and we should not accept mediocrity at whatever cost. So until the other event organisers up their game and stop trying to outclass the other in second-rate events my new motto is, “If it aint organised by R & G, I am not attending.”

1 comment:

  1. I agree Peter I attended another event just a day after the manda hill one at Polo Grill it was also a Fashion Show needless to say it sucked mediocre performances, bad sound quality man I learnt my lesson!!