Our arts and music industry, just like any other local industry is strangled by financial constraints. It’s sad, but artists continue putting in some work and only a few have earned a decent living.

The National Arts Merit Awards (NAMA Awards) is the sole fact that shows our government has not totally neglected the arts. The National Arts Merit Awards seek to safeguard, recognize and reward innovation, originality, excellence and creativity.

Controversy is not spared and so is politics. NAMA has an adjudication of 24 panelists, 3 from each 8 categories in the arts genre. Somehow they have earned a bit of credibility considering the fact that underground products and artists are honored with respect to their substance and value other than hype through nominations.

On Saturday the 13th of April, we had this ceremony, the most prestigious awards ceremony in the country at the moment. ExQ was the night’s biggest winner, he won awards for the Most Outstanding Male Artist in 2018 and the best music album for the same year. Well done Mr Putiti. Fans surely expected perennial winners in the name of Winky D and Jah Prayzah who for years dominated these categories but who knew ExQ would pull an Elliot, the guy who resurrected in a staged miracle. ExQ is the new champ.

Controversy might be on the issue that Winky D failed to make any nomination with his 5 star Gombwe album. Jah Prayzah was also a surprise absentee from the best male category which made space for ExQ, Baba Harare and the stallion Enzo Ishall.

Mai Patai is at the center of it all. The Gweru based gospel artist successfully staged a coup that saw her win the people’s choice award, something which left us awestruck. Actors in the game sided with her and radio personality Misred was quick to justify Mai Patai’s victory. It has also been revealed how her music has good ground on traditional radio stations like Radio Zimbabwe and also the fact that her fans voted against the arguments put forward on how she could win ahead of Takura, Winky D or Seh Calaz who had made it to the top 5.

Janet Manyowa defended her title and retained the Outstanding Female Musician gong. Bulawayo might have looked forward to seeing Sandra Ndebele come with it to the city of kings and queens after a successful 2018 which saw her collaborate with DJ Maphorisa. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and every idea in music is subjective, we have different tastes. Enzo Ishall, represented Zimdancehall and won the award for the most outstanding song of 2018 with Kanjiva and likewise dedicated it to the ghetto. Others felt for Mebo but it had to be one song and either decision wouldn’t have satisfied the whole nation. Dzamutsana was easily the best music video and to clear the noise Mugarden wasn’t eligible for nomination which ended in November last year. Blaqs deservedly won the award for best director.

NAMA is a great motivator in the music industry though it may come with disappointments at times. It’s not easy to accept that Mebo is going down the history lane without winning major gongs. We thought they could have broaden the categories to give a chance to lowly recognized genres these days for instance, Zim Hip Hop, Jazz and RNB other than Zimdancehall and Sungura the dominant genres. This would ensure outstanding artists such as Obert Chari would get rewarded for such a spectacular song and video. The voting platforms for people’s choice need improvements also, the text messages are okay but we fear for misrepresentation of the award itself, the people’s choice. It’s high time they engage modern platforms of Facebook and Twitter for transparency also.

We would also love to see a continuous assessment, an engagement with the industry stakeholders and this is done through giving updates on the performance of international acts such as Danai Gurira, international appearances by our local artists and generally strides being made by upcoming artists so that they grow with firm support back home for upcoming artists in the diaspora such as Donel Mangena. This is an effective measure to market our own within our borders also.

Apart from the music industry, most players in the arts are not popular because they lack coverage hence there is less attention towards these categories.

We hope you will help, comply and keep us engaged.

This is a Zimbabwean story, our story. All in all we love the effort, well done.

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