Monday, 31 March 2014

Shall We All Get Naked and Wait for Hyenas

“Even if I have lost some important parts of my body, I still want to get rich,” these are the words that were uttered by Chamangeni Zulu. This is a man who just had his manhood and three toes eaten by a hyena after a witchdoctor advised him to do so. The witchdoctor apparently told him to go into a bush, strip naked and wait for a hyena to come and eat part of his body. Ku nkala chipuba siti lesa koma chipubidwe. This is a story that borders on the ridiculous if not the insane. In the quest for riches, I guess some people sail the seas looking for lost treasure; others strip and wait for a hyena to chew what they wish.

                Now that I am done venting, there is a small portion of me that is trying to empathise with Chamangeni. He is originally from Malawi and for the past four months had been working in Chipata before he decided he had it will all this poverty nonsense. The man had probably tried all avenues available to him but he saw no hope of escaping the chains of poverty that are gripping many. I know it is easy for people who bought the newspapers to read his story while sipping coffee in an air conditioned office to find Chamangeni mad. Some would say that why didn’t he work hard if he wanted to be rich or just be content with his portion.  It could be easy for someone like myself to say that, after all my parents were able to educate me, I have opportunities at every corner, I type this blog on a laptop and I have access to the internet anytime I please. Dreaming of being rich is not a farfetched.
                Here is a man who perhaps only has primary education at best, maybe not because he did not want to go school but his parents could not afford to keep him in school. Then he is taken to work the fields so that his family can get food on his table. Hypothetically he marries early and has two children one year in between because he does not know what family planning is. He finds a job working on a farm just to prevent his family from starving, yet he still dreams of becoming rich. He does not know how that will happen because life did not give him an easy hand. He knows he cannot till the land fast or strong enough that his labour will be rewarded to make him live the lavish life he envies. He will even be lucky if he even gets the crumbs of the rich.
                There was no one available to offer him a solution on how to become rich. I have Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad to read, there is a Mubita Nawa motivational conference I can attend, I see GBM get his wife a Range Rover on Facebook to emulate and I have the qualifications to help open doors. Chamangeni does not have this privilege. Therefore, should we blame him for taking a solution offered to him by a witchdoctor? When no one was showing him the path to the riches that he desired the witchdoctor showed him a way. Chamangeni may have tried the conventional route and it failed, so it was about time he used the unconventional route- Strip and wait for a hyena.
                Chamangeni’s story is that of many people in poverty in Zambia, even though some may not push the boundaries like he did, they too still dream to be rich. For us who read the story in the papers and posted it on Facebook may consider ourselves lucky. We too could also have been in Chamangeni’s position, wishing to be rich but not knowing how. We would have shouted in Marie Antoinette fashion, “Why doesn’t he just work hard if he wants to be rich.” Yet we forget that we neither provide the tools nor the show him the route to get to wealth. Still on his hospital bed no one was able to show him the first steps towards riches, hence he boldly declared his determination, “Even if I have lost some important parts of my body, I still want to get rich.”

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

The Battle for NAC: Chiduku vs Saboistas

What 2Pac and Notorious BIG, Muhammed Ali and George Foreman, or even Slap Dee and Macky 2 can do, Mulenga Kapwepwe and Saboi Imboela can do too. In this case in what has come to be known as the battle between the Chiduku vs the Saboistas is turning into quite a cat fight. Gone are the days when people used to settle scores on the streets, these two have taken it to Facebook. This is all because of one little thing called the National Arts Council (NAC).

I am not exactly sure when this whole feud between the two started, but it is almost certain that fuel was added right after this year’s Zambia Music Awards. Media outlets started reporting that Saboi Imboela of the Shatel Fame had launched a campaign which in her words was meant to, “Hound Mulenga Kapwepwe out of the National Arts Council.” According to Saboi, Mulenga Kapwepwe has overstayed her reign as Chairperson of the NAC. Saboi further launched a petition at the Lusaka Playhouse that would get signatures of artists which would be presented to the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Honourable Sylvia Masebo.  Among the people who signed the petition are well known musicians such as JK, Mampi, Mozegater, Sista D, Diffikoti among others. On 3 March 2014, the day the petition was launched, Saboi and Brian Shakarongo (Veteran Musician) further went on Hot FM to discuss the reasons why they want to hound Mulenga Kapwepwe out.

The next day after Saboi’s petition launch, Mulenga Kapwepwe joined Facebook and attempted to respond to Saboi. She answered some of the questions Saboi asked of her, which was what she was doing at NAC instead of looking for a job. Mulenga said she was working on various projects which included an animation pilot, a poetry project and a record label. As for the record label she had no name for it until Saboi’s reference of the attire Mulenga is well known for the Chiduku, hence, the label has been named Chiduku Beats. This sparked the beginning of the Facebook spat between these two artists. Each response was longer than the previous, and weaved their words as though they were writing a bestselling novel.

In all the thousands of words I have had to read through, this whole fiasco is perhaps about five cardinal issues. Saboi is claiming that Mulenga Kapwepwe has hang around far too long- 14 years, she has done nothing during her reign, she is not making it possible for Musicians to earn a living, there is no strategic plan at NAC and she is running NAC as if it is personal to holder. She cited the Zambia Music Awards as a classic case where NAC did not compensate musicians adequately for winning the awards. She explained that the judges got K15, 000 while the musicians got K3, 000. It was no wonder the musicians were suffering. Therefore, it was time kick her out of NAC and place someone new. She did categorically say that she would not stand for the position of chairperson as it would be perceived wrongly.

Why Mulenga chose Facebook to respond to Saboi’s allegations is beyond me. In her response she clarified that she has been Chairperson of NAC for 10 years and not 14 years, during her reign she assisted in obtaining funding from the European Union, lobbied to increase funding from government, developed policy for the arts, supported various artists through workshops and other capacity building activities, and this is the legacy that she has created. She also stated that her term as NAC chairperson ended in November 2013. However, NAC is being transition into a commission, Mulenga was requested to stay on in the interim which is within the authority of the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Arts to do so.
Mulenga Kapwepwe (left) and Saboi Imboela (Right)

This Chiduku vs Saboi bouts are very difficult to call because none of them is presenting sufficient facts and evidence to help us the public and I as an artist to choose a side. Saboi is basing her petition on the fact that Mulenga Kapwepwe has overstayed. However, the NAC constitution does not limit the number of times that someone can be chairperson, as long as they continue winning the elections they continue. Further the FIFA president has been in his position for more than 10 years and he is doing a pretty good job, it is nothing new. Therefore, the length of time that she has been there should not have been an issue but Saboi should have been telling us Kapwepwe’s failing. For some reason she is so fixated on the fact that NAC does not have a strategic plan something that she must have acquired from her academic classes. It is not cast in stone that every organisation should have a strategic plan; it is just recommended that it has one.  Then she has successfully managed to ostracise the other artists, even though she uses the words artists she is implying musicians. She has failed to articulate the challenges that other artists such as writers, filmmakers, painters, poets, sculptors, etc., are facing and how Mulenga being at the helm has failed them. All she has been speaking of is how Mulenga has failed the musicians. It appears as if Saboi wants a Chairperson who will make life better for musicians or put money in their pockets. Saboi in her arguments has failed to mention a single success that NAC has scored. In her opinion NAC has been a selfish and greedy organisation run by a dictatorial leader. I find this hard to believe as definitely there must be some good that NAC has done. The 14 years she is claiming under Mulenga’s reign could all not have been wasted years. Lastly, Saboi is an intellectual and having previously served as a member of NAC, she knows the mandate that NAC has. However, she is appealing to people’s pockets and anything that does that is likely to generate support. By claiming that the musicians need to be earning a decent livelihood and NAC is one of the hindrances to this is kind of misleading. It is not the mandate of NAC to make sure musicians are rich.

In regards to Mulenga Kapwepwe, I believe that she made the right decision to join Facebook. However, to solely respond to issues that are raised on Facebook is not appropriate. What about the individuals or my parents who are not on Facebook. They are only getting a one-sided story. Mulenga should have taken the opportunities availed to her by going on radio and television to discuss this row before it reached the levels it has. It was her duty as Chairperson to set records straight, and encourage dialogue. We have well established discussion shows such as Let the People Talk on Radio Phoenix, The Assignment on Muvi TV, Sunday Interview on ZNBC to mention but a few. However, for reasons best known to herself she did not take these opportunities, instead we have been going back and forth reading long narratives on Facebook. Mulenga did mention the numerous achievements that she has scored while at the helm of NAC on her Facebook Page. I was disappointed that I could not find the website for NAC in this present age, it would have been a wonderful platform to publicise its achievements and what its role in the arts arena is. This is where all the rumours and misconceptions about the operations about NAC are coming from, because it seems to operate like a conclave. No one knows what they are doing. All this petition and hounding cries would not have happened had Mulenga as leader of NAC made it know what the achievements were and what the role of NAC is. People would then be able to make up more informed and rational designs on whether calls to hound her out are justifiable.

There is so much that can be said about this debacle, I admit this is only a fraction of it. However, the longer this Facebook feud continues, the more it shreds into the legacy and respect people will have for these two individuals. If they cannot both appear on a TV or radio platform to debate the issues and clear the air, then perhaps we should try getting them into a boxing ring. Until that happens, I can neither support a petition to hound Mulenga out or support her to continue her reign without having valid and concrete reasons presented before me. At the moment all I can ask for is that the debate continues until we get to the facts and evidence we desire. In meantime, please keep your replies short.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Don't Buy VIP Tickets

Whenever I am attending a concert or any other show, I have one simple rule. Never buyVIP tickets. When I attended the Loyiso Gola comedy show at Government Complex this past Friday, it only validated my simple rule- Never buy VIP tickets. It would be in your best interest too, to follow this rule. It is not that I am against having VIP tickets, but experience has shown VIPs are not appreciated much.

VIP (Very Important Person) is usually a category that you have at concerts and other shows. It is to separate them from the ordinary masses. The VIP tickets are often twice the price of the ordinary tickets and it is believed that you will receive preferential treatment. It implies that you will not have to queue up, sit closer to the stage, and have a complementary drink (if you are lucky) but that is it. Quite frankly, if I am going to be paying double the price then it better have some additional perks than just that.

There have been countless horror stories of people who have paid for VIP tickets only to be mixed with the rest of the ordinary ticket holders. South African comedian, Loyiso Gola’s show at Government Complex was no different. An ordinary ticket was K100 while a VIP ticket was K200. It was organised by Rock FM and they did a terrible job at marketing it if I may add.  Both the ordinary and VIP tickets holders did not have to queue up to enter the building due to the poor turn out, then the VIPs had a complimentary Dragon energy drink the ordinary tickets holders had nothing. The VIP ticket holder could sit closer to the stage while the ordinary tickets holders were farther away from it. However, by the time Loyiso came on stage which was two hours later than indicated on the ticket, the MC had told the ordinary ticket holders to move closer and occupy the VIP ticket seats. Hello, what the hell, that was not right. The difference between an ordinary ticket and a VIP ticket could not just be the complimentary drink in my hand. VIP ticket holders absolutely felt cheated in a major way. Even if there were empty seats, they should have remained empty and the ordinary tickets holders should have remained where they were, otherwise the VIP ticket holders should have been refunded.
Loyiso chatting to the crowd

Now, people have introduced VVIP tickets which are more expensive than VIP tickets, over my dead body before I purchase one of those. VIP is usually not VIP. It is just a nice initiative for event organisers to dupe us into parting away with our hard earned cash. There should be more appreciation for those who are paying for a VIP ticket apart from the fact that they do not have to line up to enter the building. They should be rolling out the red carpet, we should have backstage access, the performer should be high-fiving us, the ordinary ticket holders should wait for us to walk out when the show is over, and the organisers should dish out autographed memorabilia. I know I am pushing the limit on some of the requests but you get the picture.

Event organisers really need to read up on the meaning of VIP before they decide to print and price their tickets. It is unfortunate and tantamount to stealing for someone to pay for a VIP ticket only to be mixed with ordinary ticket holders. Based on my experience and tales of others, on the ordinary ticket line is where you will find me because I know I will subsequently wind up in the VIP section. Oh by the way, this article is dedicated to those people who bought VIP ticket to Loyiso Gola’s show. I really would not spit sufficient venom in this piece because like I said I don't buy VIP tickets. The one I had was given to me, lucky it was free because Hell Hath No Fury like a Frustrated Brotha.