All posts by Correspondent

State of the Culture : The Winky D case

So on the 24th of December Winky D, Zimbabawe’s foremost musical juggernaut of the present moment and dancehall music hitmaker  was the victim of a madding crowd in Kwekwe, small town in the country’s midlands province, the land of a so called terror gang?

picture courtesy of Winky D Facebook timeline

 

But what actually happened in Kwekwe? Was it a case of a prima donna who stretched his luck and earned the wrath of music lovers by delaying his entrance?

The footage available on You Tube of Zimbabwe’s number one showman in the fiasco in Kwekwe makes cringe worthy watching. In the first nineteen seconds is a cacophony of sounds as Winky D stands surrounded by civilians and military police in their custom red berets and fatigues. Was the military police part of the security for the day or just out for a good time? The girls are shrieking (though one can’t see them) as Winky D seems to be psyching himself up. Then the thugs start pelting.

Madness

The video gets blurry. Whoever was filming must have been trying to duck from the missiles and most likely bottles being hurled. Someone is heard saying ‘Arohwa musoro here or words to that effect’. Then the footage ends. I want to know what the gallant military men then did in the melee. Who had the nerve to unleash terror in the soldiers’ awesome presence? What drink do the brave ones actually drink to ‘wanna be starting something’ when the soldiers’ own police are around? So many questions?

The media

One narrative says that Winky D provoked the ire of music lovers by going on stage late. The other says that his presence in Kwekwe a renowned place of terror and prowling ground for the bad and the ugly was in itself suicidal given the place’s history with political violence. The latter narrative lends itself to the idea of a musician who has fallen foul of the powers that be and their fiendish sympathizers at ground zero. The reason for the bull’s eye on his back would be the song Kajecha which is interpreted to imply criticism of the ruling Zanu PF and support for the MDC. All these theories are moot at present and the efforts to get a hold of Winky D’s manager directly have proved fruitless except the following on the artist’s Facebook page post:

“We realised how the noblest energies could be subverted in the name of expedience, how narrow interests could be used against a collective expression of a ghetto discontent constituted artist voice.
I am sure that cheap versions of “absolute truths” are already being peddled. Programmed applauders of everything anti-Winky D should realise that this is no longer the perceived musical beef terrain, (haisi kids game) but real life situations, wherein, had the worst happened, we could have been writing this near the smoke or harmony of a funeral procession.The story being sold that the artist arrived late for the performance is far from the truth. It’s a falsehood meant to spoil the truth. As always, the artist was on time and ready to perform as per allocated time, his performance was supposed to start at 2:30 and the 0345am being peddled around, is a time at which the artist and his crew were in the midst of scurrying for dear life…”

The aftermath

The following morning Winky D tweets in his official account that he is safe together with his band Vigilance. The Vigilant ones managed to escape the daring assault by a madding crowd who risked even pelting military men! Zimbabwe is becoming more and more volatile when we have civilians being as bold as pelting a person surrounded by military police. But what was the trigger for the riot at King Solomon’s Hotel owned reportedly by one Mr. Solomon Matsa? Sadly, the news filtering through indicates that his place was damaged in the violence. I wonder if he has security cameras. It now seems that security cameras are a must for places where crowds gather. The footage would come in handy should the police be acting to arrest the assailants.

Money motive?

Some of the reports have it that the crowd was not amused when the show’s admission charges changed from $10 to US$10 and that they were upset furthermore that Winky D appeared on stage at 3.45am. The bill had a number of other performers however as curtain raisers with Winky D as the head line act. As one would expect, people got hurt in the melee. But what sort of raging beast was it that bedeviled the Kwekwe show?  This would be the second time a musician of note has suffered crowd violence. Jah Prayzer experienced similar violence at the burial of his deceased former band member. He ran like the wind to escape the ravenous crowd. Why were the people mad at him?

A violent and cowardly society

Musicians are increasingly becoming game meat for those with scores to settle. I believe that it is really a tricky time to be living in this country. Nothing seems to be working except violence against political opponents. Maybe that’s an exaggeration but here is my worry; we are a long way from healing a broken land when influential politicians such as Zanu PF youth leader the 52 year old Pupurayi Togarepi can tweet that they will no longer tolerate those who ‘provoke’ them.  There are also those in the country’s main opposition party the Movement for Democratic Change who have also demonstrated a disturbing prediliction for violence (as in the attack on former party deputy leader Thokozani Khupe case being but one example).

When Zanu PF youth leadership tweets that they will be ‘taking no prisoners’ the English here actually means that there will be no need to take prisoners because they will be dead as in war situations! Well it is important to pay attention to the way people use language to advance agendas. Ultimately, this animal called violence cannot and should not be boasted about. It is reckless. I recommend that we adopt the practice of respectfully objecting to people who see differently. There are really no spoils in a civil conflagration. I fear that someday the proverbial waters will break and it is not a child this society gives birth to but the very spawn of Satan!

The business of content distribution: the battle for the African market

Intersection with technology

With the close to 1 billion mobile phone subscriptions in Africa, content aggregators such as Iflix and iROKO are poised to mine a serious goldfield. I find it heartwarming that an African player has risen to the challenge being presented by the global players. Nollywood is the world’s second largest film industry in terms of output. It reportedly employs one million people and constitutes 1.04% of the Nigeria’s GDP. Nigerian has been enjoying considerable success interms of its creative sector. The Nigeria’s film industry is prolifically producing close to 50 films a week or more than 1,200 films a year. It surpasses Hollywood in volume terms and is set to match or better Bollywood in India, which overtook the USA as the largest film producer in the 1970s. Other African countries can only learn and piggy back on what others are doing. Personal communication gadgets present a new business frontier.

Take for example iFlix, a subscription video on demand service which last year  announced the launch of iFlix Africa to bring its world class service to sub-Saharan Africa.  It has since partnered with Kwese to deliver a pan African service to millions across the continent who can purchase the Kweseplay gadget for IPTV.

iFlix Africa is headquartered in Cape Town, South Africa and trades commercially as ‘iflix’. According to Kethryn Meichie in charge of corporate communications at the time “launches are planned in Nigeria, Ghana Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, iflix Africa will increase iFlix’s global footprint to 23 territories worldwide, with additional regional markets to be added over the coming months.”iFlix has since been moving fast across the continent to spread its wings with the launch of its SVoD service across Sub Saharan Africa making its vast catalogue of thousands of TV shows, movies and more, including many first run exclusives and award winning programs available to hundreds of millions of consumers across the region.In addition to having the ‘best’ of Hollywood, Bollywood, Nollywood and other regional and local programming, the service will additionally offer an extensive collection of highly acclaimed African shows and movies with iFlix Africa planning to introduce exclusive African content series.

Let there be competition

IFlix’s entrance on the market implies serious competition for the various pay TV and VOD services that have been invading the African market.  Zimbabwean players set to feel the heat because of iFlix include Netflix and DStv. Kwesé Television from Econet Wireless and ipidi TV from Liquid Telecom are yet to access the Zimbabwean market. iFlix is offering its services at $4,99 monthly.

Consumers can only benefit from the bone fight that is yet to ensue. Monopolies breed complacency inadvertently. Zimbabwe television has been in the doldrums for a long time is because of the lethargy that is concomitant with monopolies. Competition is good for keeping businesses on their toes. In fact, it is the bigger malady of the African socio-political environment.

An African player

Last year Nigerian based Entertainment and internet TV platform iROKO announced the signing of multiple deals totaling $19m for content development and capital funding from Kinnevik AB, its existing investor and French media giant CANAL+. The funding is intended to upscale its operations and expand aggressively across the continent.

In a statement released at the time, Jason Njoku, a thirty something Chemistry graduate- CEO and Co-founder of iROKO said: “The challenges surrounding mobile TV in Africa are mighty, but not insurmountable. It’s human to be entertained and connect over community and we are obsessed with creating Africa’s largest community around local content. We have always been crazily bold in our ambitions to bring the content closer to viewers and build a truly frictionless and inclusive entertainment experience. Today’s news improves those odds.”

 

Donel Mangena touches the globe

The kid is seventeen and the globe is in his hands. But what does it mean that the child of Zimbabwean immigrants is doing these things? What does it mean that out of a constellation of global ‘stars’ he could have bagged such a prestigious gig as the Miss World finals last weekend?

picture courtesy of Donel Mangena Facebook page

The 68th edition of the Miss World pageant, was held on 8 December 2018 at the Sanya City Arena in Sanya, China.The event saw Manushi Chhillar of India crowning her successor Vanessa Ponce of Mexico at the end. Before 118 beauties drawn from across the world, the nascent talent of Donel Mangena with Zimbabwean roots showed out. He may prove to be Africa’s answer to Usher or Chris Brown with his fluid dance moves and singing ability.Recently he was in the country a few months to perform in front of local fans in Bulawayo and he is proving that he will most likely soar to previously uncharted territory in the pop music firmament.

Much will depend on a number of factors including management and of course songs. Without a hit song, a singer is going nowhere and the young artists introduced his latest single ‘Bang like a drum’ at the finals dancing with a coterie of dancers in choreography that chimed seamlessly with his latest offering.

Donel Mangena new single cover art.

The crowd roared their approval at the end with presenters Barney Walsh gushing: “What an opening, we had Donel…!

Donel came close to bagging UK’s version of the voice last year and attracted the attention of Black Eyed Peas front man Wil.I.Am. He has also had the rare privilege of performing for the royalty at the Queen of England’s birthday celebrations. Donel has roots in the city’s cultural hub of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

story by Admire Kudita

Film as a tool for cultural and economic emancipation

Close your eyes. Try to picture Africa. What do you see ? If the image you conjure up is one of tribal wars, man eating savages, apes, laughing hyenas and wailing babies, then you have been a victim of constant bombardment with negative imagery of Africa by the mass media. Whereas the Western media have since time immemorial peddled the idea of a dark continent, Africa is not the heart of darkness or a place of cannibals who eat babies.

poster courtesy of film producers

There is consensus amongst the stakeholders within the African film sector that the time has come for Africa to tell its own stories. Film can be a force for cultural and economic emancipation but a multi-lateral approach is quite possibly the best way forward for the continent in its bid to diversify its economic activities and create jobs for its rising youthful population.

poster courtesy of film producers

On the Multi choice Talent Factory

One of Zimbabwe’s leading film makers Rumbi Katedza sees the setting up of a film academy as part of the solution toward structuring the African film sector: “The Multichoice Talent Factory is a great initiative that gives opportunities not only for our future filmmakers to hone their skills, but to also be exposed to talent in the region. I like that it is pan-African. However, only a limited number of people are accepted into the programme, so while Multichoice is playing its part, we also need to ensure there are more institutions here and abroad that can train Zimbabwean practitioners to be professional, to be great storytellers and to produce quality content. On Monday, members of the Zimbabwe Film Industry Development Platform (ZFIDP) Executive committee met with Minister Mutsvangwa to engage on issues of a film policy, film commission, content generation and economic growth in our industry. We know that once talented Zimbabweans go through training and other programmes, there needs to be a robust industry with solid foundations and a vibrant broadcasting landscape to absorb them.”
Quality imperative, market place exigencies and politics
Within the context of international giants such iRoko, Netflix, iFlix /Kwese and Multichoice battling for the attention of the millions of viewers on the continent, the need for quality production is imperative however well-meaning national policy frames and productions maybe. National broadcasting stations with their bureaucratic and highly politicized operational environment run the real risk of collapse or worst of all, continuing to be a heavy burden on tax payers. They simply need an infusion of a new corporate culture of excellence along with well trained personnel. In the end, quality trumps sentiment or political considerations when it comes to the question of viewer choices. “Audiences are becoming much more discerning of the content they watch, so we have to up skill and produce competitive content,” Katedza further elaborated.

Brand Africa

The competing narratives about Africa can make the task of a film maker or creative person seem daunting. Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is an enduring polemic on Africa’s potential and promise. The counter narrative is vital for gaining respect for the continent on the global stage. “We must tell our stories ourselves. It’s only when we tell it ourselves that we are going to tell the story as it is and not as it is from someone else perspective. African stories have always been told by others. We want to take ownership of our own history. We are not going to tell only about the animals or the famines. From that perspective, the grooming of talent is very important. Multichoice Africa has proven that it is not just making money but also sloughing back into the community and developing the next generation of film industry professional,” noted Milca Mugunda the chairperson of Multichoice Namibia. “We are going to take ownership of our destination not only going to tell about the wars and the famines. Our people who we are training today are the ones who are going to tell the story of Africa’s greatness.”

Economic imperative

The 2015 Ernest & Young report, Cultural Times – The First Global Map of Cultural and Creative Industries, which is its first global survey quantifying the global economic and social contribution of the industries, established that revenue from cultural and creative industries (of which film is an integral part of) generated globally accounts for 3% of the world’s GDP or a total of US$2 250billion. Further, that it also creates a total of 29.5 million jobs worldwide, or 1% of the earth’s actively employed population. Zimbabwe’s southern neighbor South Africa is in tandem, the report says, with the global trend where in 2014, according to some early mapping of the sector, South Africa’s creative economy contributed over R90.5bn to the national economy or 2.9% of the GDP in 2013 to 2014, exceeding, for instance, the contribution of agriculture to the GDP (2.2%).Over one million, or 6,72% of all South African jobs, are housed in the broader ‘Cultural Economy’ as per another report by cultural think-tank, the South African Cultural Observatory (SACO) compiled by Prof. Jen Snowball, the SACO chief research strategist at Rhodes University and Serge Hadisi, an independent economist affiliated to Rhodes University.
Ultimately, countries with struggling economies such as Zimbabwe must seriously consider the creative sector’s capacity for socio-economic development taking advantage of the obvious intersectionality of the content creation industries with new media and ICTs in terms of distribution and monetization. The case for including these nascent technologies in the definition of the creative sector is a foregone conclusion.

Vital Fact file

• A 2010 United Nations report on the global creative economy posits that trade in the creative sector continues to grow citing Information Technology rising from US$267 billion in 2002 to US$592 billion worldwide in 2008.
• Developed countries account for 83 percent of exports in creative services and 56 percent in creative goods.
• The entertainment sector of the U.S. contributed US$74.3 billion to the economy in 2012.
• The U.S. has 40,000 movie theatres whilst India has 20,000.
• China has 13,000 movie theatres
• Africa has less than 1,000 movie theatres- a ratio of 1 cinema per million people.

THE ADZE UGAH INTERVIEW

Adze Ugah is one of Africa’s finest filmmakers whose artistic vision is responsible for some of the most widely followed productions in South Africa and indeed across Africa. What separates the grain from the proverbial chaff as pertains  Ugah is his growing repertoire of television and film helming productions such as Society II and III, Zone 14, Tshisa II, Skwizas II, My Perfect Family II, Isibaya, Room 9 within the context of an environment that is generally hostile to African immigrants. A past Best Achievement in Directing – TV Soap winner for Isibaya in the South African Film and Television Awards, Ugah is a pioneering Nigerian creative plying his trade in South Africa.    His critically acclaimed pan African television series Jacob’s Cross is perhaps his crowning achievement in a glittering film career in terms of forging pan African relations. The 2008 documentary The Burning Man garnered international notice and earned several awards.His first feature film Gog’Helen was released in late 2012 and he is currently involved in various stages of production of other film and television projects. This creative visionary is a little lauded articulate giant of African film. Culture Beat Africa editor Addy Kudita manages to prise him away from his busy schedule for an insightful one on one.

CBA: How did you get your break in the cut throat world of television, it’s cut throat isn’t it?

ADZE UGAH: Every industry is cut throat, but for one to make it in TV and film, I feel one must always start with believing that one has something to offer.So it is not about entering the industry with the notion of what one can get out of it. I lived, breathed and ‘slept’ film and TV.Everyone around me could see it.So after film school in Nigeria, I sought to increase my knowledge base, and that’s what led me to do my honours in SA. After graduating, I sought more knowledge by volunteering to be a trainee for little or no pay on the film and TV sets.As long as it meant I could learn more about making TV and film from a practical perspective without having to pay for it.It was very hard considering that I had no support system in SA and relied on just the kindness of God and others for survival. And those who allowed me to work as a trainee could see my potential in even the most menial of film and TV functions and just saw it fit to assign bigger responsibilities to me.When the time came, that’s what happened and that’s how I started. It all began with Home affairs and the producer of Home affairs, Roberta Durant, for seeing that potential and giving me that opportunity.

CBA: Can you recall for me some of the projects you have worked on aside from famous ones such as Zone 14 and others such as Society which I enjoyed thoroughly?

ADZE UGAH: My first work experience in SA Television was on a SABC 1 show called Home affairs, as a trainee assistant director. I recall being nervous when it was time to apply for a work permit to work on that show because I thought the department of Home affairs might think we were making a show about them and be worried about being shown in a negative light on TV and maybe refuse the permit. But the show had nothing to do with the department.In a way; it was like Society, just about the four disparate lives of women living in SA. I then went to work as an assistant director on an SABC 2 show called Heartlines that was where I met Angus Gibson, the creator/director of Yizo Yizo. He also directed the Oscar nominated documentary on Mandela and he has since been my mentor. He was intrigued by my passion for movies and TV. He then invited me to meet his business partner and producer Desiree Markgraaf. At the time they were creating a pan African series for MNET, and they invited me to contribute to the project. It went on to become the acclaimed pan-African series that we know today as Jacob’s Cross, and I became one of the anchor directors of the show. Since then I have done Tshisa season three, some episodes of Room 9, the supernatural detective series set in a future dystopian South Africa. I have done some episodes of the sitcom, My Perfect Family and Skwizas. Also directed an anti xenophobia Mfolozi Street and have directed feature films for SA cinema such as Gog Helen, Mrs Right Guy, and 10 Days in Sun City.

CBA: As a migrant, what obstacles did you have to overcome to get to a place where you could “eat” from the craft?

ADZE UGAH: Firstly for me, it wasn’t about what and where I could “eat”, I was about what I could give others to “eat”, even though at the time I virtually had nothing, but I had my ideas, my point of view on things, my creativity, i had my vision and my passion and that’s what I believe created the opportunities for me

CBA: Did you train in S.A. or Nigeria and how did you cut your teeth in the business?

ADZE UGAH: My first degree in film was from Nigeria, at the National Film Institute, in Jos. I was able to make one film after I graduated with money from my parents and I used my family as the cast.The film went on to win some awards in Nigeria at that time but didn’t really make me any money.But it was a great learning curve that led to the desire to seek more knowledge in making films.

CBA: What kind of a premium do you think as Africans are placing on our own narratives?

ADZE UGAH: Not nearly enough as we should, other countries like Asia, Europe and the Americas see their narratives as a commodity.For them their art and culture and entertainment is not just a government mandate, it is big business. It is something to invest in and to export to other nations. It grows their economy and shapes their identities -the best of both worlds as far as I am concerned. It’s about time Africans saw it as more than just stories told round a fire place or under a tree or just a novelty. It is big business.

CBA: What in your opinion is the importance of story telling from a developmental point of view?

ADZE UGAH: Story telling shapes emotions, identity and consciousness.America has used it to colonize the world, advance its notions and ingrained itself into the global psyche. We have the same opportunity to do like wise.

CBA: What stories do you believe need to be told more insistently about Africa?

ADZE UGAH: Historical ones for starters and even contemporary ones.

CBA: How do you view issues around xenophobia?

ADZE UGAH: Just like any other malady, you can’t endorse something that every one agrees it is a social ill. Even those who are xenophobic know that it is a negative attitude, and just like any other social ill, it is mostly fueled by ignorance and the only way to counter ignorance is to inform and educate.That’s why platforms like film and TV become very important.  I meant,  I directed an anti-xenophobia documentary called The Burning Man, and feature films for SA cinema such as Gog helen, Mrs Right Guy, 10 days in Sun City.

CBA: The work of yours that I have seen tends to have a gritty realism to it. The characters tend to be the most interesting ones and a good example are the Zone 14 ones such as Spinach…Do you deliberately seek out scripts with strong memorable characters?

ADZE UGAH: I think i have just been lucky to work with people who are also drawn to the same issues as I am. That’s what it’s really all about at the end of the day.

CBA: What are currently working on?

ADZE UGAH:  I am working on Isibaya at the moment and working towards releasing a feature film in 2018

CBA: Are you eating from this?

ADZE UGAH: I think it’s more important that I know others can eat from the projects I am work on first and foremost.That is the only thing that guarantees that I can also eat from it eventually.

CBA: What inspires you personally?

ADZE UGAH: Good films, good books and good television series, but most of all the human experience in all its permutations mostly inspire me.

South African hip hop artist Cassper earns legend status

As if filling up a 20 000 seater Coca Cola Dome in Soweto or a 60 000 seater Orlando stadium is a stroll in the veld, try this for size : Cassper filled up a 90 000 seater football stadium in addition to those feats ! Well not quite ; though he did sell 72 000 tickets and brought throngs of excited fans along for the history making show.Few African artists have been stadium fillers. This is a rarified space which has in the past been inhabited by international acts such as Bruce Springsteen and Eminem.

Picture from Instagram

Cassper’s feat has earned him the respect of peers and entertainment industry elders such as the legendary impresario of the African house music and the power behind the careers of pan African groups such as Mafikizolo, Bongomaffin and Boomshaka DJ Oskido (real name Oscar Mdlongwa, the boss of Kalawa Jazmee)

Picture from Instagram

Cassper was born Refiloe Maele Phoolo into a middle class South African family. Dropping out of school at 16 to pursue his music dream in the bright lights of Johannesburg must have sounded like a nightmare to his teacher parents.The odds seemed bleak… On Saturday night 68 000 fans turned up for the spectacular show that has helped the 27 year old hip hop artist and boss of independent label Family Tree Records make history. Perhaps reminiscing about his days paying his dues as a backing dancer for popular hip hop artists of the day such as HHP (whom he paid homage to before the pumped up crowd),  Cassper ‘kinged’ it. But did he ever think that one day he would be compared with the likes of Bruce Springsteen in the annals of pop music history as a big stadium drawcard?

Theatre of dreams

Picture from Instagram

The venue of last Saturday’s concert was the architectural masterpiece that is the FNB stadium which played host to the 2010 World Cup final. An aerial view of the stadium reveals an inspirational and evocative design achievement in the calabash design of the stadium. The very idea of a design inspired by African motifs and iconography is fundamental to the proliferation and proper monetisation of African cultural artefacts and Art in general. The Nyovest gig has been hailed by the country’s Arts Minister Nathi Mthethwa:  “On behalf of @ArtsCultureSA I wish you all the best as you make your mark and start a new chapter in South Africa’s music history tonight. You continue to inspire future generations of African musicians to be limitless in their pursuit of excellence”and for “using his platform to encourage the youth to preserve and promote African arts and culture.”

The path to glory

Picture from Instagram

The campaign to fill up the stadium ran for several months on social media mainly.Corporate support for the gig was begging initially till right upto the very last moment. Cassper was on social media grumbling about how “they dont want to support us” in refernce to corporate South Africa. In an interview with DJ Sbu (another serious entrepreneur owner of the MoFaya energy drink and Massiv Metro radio station) Cassper broke down the total cost of the show which saw him go broke as per his own word and selling four Rolex watches. Of course that fact alone I found bemusing considering the lot of Zimbo musicians. A Rolex watch can set you back close to R60 000 per piece. Still, Cassper claimed in the interview that it would cost him 15 million rand to put the show together. It cost 2 million rand to book stadium, 5,2million rand for the stage design ( by a company based in Cape Town), 1 million rands for traditional marketing and 500 000 rands for supporting acts.

It takes a village to raise an African child

Picture from Instagram

For a moment, it seemed that Cassper was going it alone but for the support of the likes of famous house music don Oskido of Kalawa Jazmee records, fellow rapper Riky Rik, Black Coffee and other celebs such as actress Pearl Thusi who came out in support buying tickets. Oskido bought R50 000 worth of tickets whilst Riky Rik bought R20 000 worth of tickets. All of sudden, the campaign for the show reached a groundswell and the corporate world jumped in. Ciroc, Budweiser, SABC. South Africa’s Department of Arts and Culture and Standard Bank came on board to help underwrite the gig. Standard Bank actually broke protocol by sponsoring a gig at rival bank branded stadium.

Business comes to the party

The corporate head of retail marketing Tinyiko Mageza at Standard Bank offered his sentiments about the Cassper gig: “Cassper Nyovest has challenged young South Africans to unapologetically chase their next big dreams, their next big deals and their next big wins, and we are inspired and excited to be part of this adventure. For Standard Bank it doesn’t matter where your NEXT may happen or how big it may seem, we really just want to be a partner as you steer your life to greatness.” The Standard Bank involved an undisclosed amount of money plus extensive marketing support and advertising. The bank also gave away free tickets that it had bought to fans. Incidentally, Standard Bank has a promotional campaign entitled ‘What’s Your Next?’“We are here to support a young African artist, Cassper Nyovest, to show that anything is possible.We are here to show that no matter how big or audacious, bold or daring your next step is you can really make it happen if you have the right partners co-piloting with you and helping you stir your life to greatness.As a country, we followed Cassper’s journey from one ‘next’ to the other For us it represented the epitome of what a ‘next’ is all about. As a bank, in May we put our hands up and asked the question to all South Africans, ‘What is your next?’,” said Mageza.

A night to remember

Picture from Instagram

The stage with two giant lions flanking it was designed by Daniel Popper a Cape Town based artist. The lighting was superlative and worthy of a galaxy of African stars who take their Art seriously. The show included a Somizi Mhlongo choreographed 50 dancer show piece by Cassper alone. Some of South Africa’s top artistes Kwesta, Major League,Babes Wodumo, current hit makers Distruction Boyz, DJ Tira, (Zimbabwean rapper )Nadia Nakai, Somizi, Riky Rick and Tshepo Tshola featured to help make the show a grand musical affair. They didn’t need American musical imports to fill the stadium on this Saturday night and the tag line of Brand South Africa- Proudly South African was totally earned. Hit after hit was churned out by Cassper and his coterie of fellow artists with songs such as ‘Mama I made it’, ‘Tito Mboweni’ and others by Babes Wodumo thrilling the multi-ethnic and multi-racial fans.The generation of artists such as Cassper is clearly standing on the shoulders of giants that have gone before him such as the late Lucky Dube and Miriam Makeba.

Has Cassper Nyovest not given South African audiences a moment of showbiz magic with his recent FillUpTheFNB concert? Has he not rewritten the script for African artists in the process in terms of how far to reach when pursuing the singular goal of global fame?
Apparently, Cassper calls him himself  Mufasa – Lion king. Is he the lion of African pop culture ? Pundits would be hard pressed to deny him the title especially if he pulls off the #FillUpMosesMabhidha gig he is now eyeing for 2018.

Warhol’s prophecy comes true: The age of celebrity culture

What is intriguing is that her act is not mind blowing for its artistry. She merely lifts her leg in a Michael Jackson-like motion. She squats and stands and shakes her derriere. All the time, you know that she is not wearing any under clothes because she already told you. Talk about the power of suggestion. The imagination is a wilderness of its own.

Zodwa now charges for her appearances and MC duties. It will cost you between R10 000 and R15 000 per gig to book her in South Africa. She is what the French would call a provocateur, a pop culture phenomenon which perhaps has its roots in the 60s when characters such as Elvis Presley scandalised the prim and proper folk, with his outrageous hip shake whilst performing on stage and British rock bands such as the Rolling Stones led publicly chronicled drug fuelled lifetsyle.

Kim Kardashian Clone?

But who is Zodwa? Born Zodwa Rebecca Libram in Soweto some 32 years ago before shifting to Durban four years ago, the former debt collector appears to have struck a rich vein: monetizing notoriety. And she is slated to visit Bulawayo’s Club Connect. “Zodwa is coming as a guest and not an entertainer but her popularity makes it sound otherwise. She will obviously dance and have her favourite drinks and even choose the woman who she feels would have done a great deal of copying her style‚” said Zandile Moyo the manager of Club Connect as quoted by the Sowetan.

Zodwa is coming possibly because she is currently trending on social media. She also upped the ante when she appeared dressed in a very ‘dangerous’ dress (of course without panties) at the famous Durban July horse race which is a much vaunted South African celebrity calendar event. “The inspiration behind it is that I wanted to be sexy and bold,” Zodwa elaborated. “I wanted to show I don’t really wear a panty. In the photos my cellulite is clearly visible; I wanted to show women we don’t have to hide what we are.”

Fifteen minutes of fame

It is Andy Warhol, in February 1968 who when he exhibited his first international retrospective exhibition at the Moderna Museet gallery in Stockholm had the exhibition catalogue contain a line “In the future everybody will be world famous for fifteen minutes.” These words are now famously attributed to the late U.S. artist who was himself interested in personal branding and perhaps is most famous for being part of the Bohemian scene in New York of the 60s, 70s and the 80s. His other most famous pop culture contribution is his portrait of the late beauty and actress Marilyn Monroe (incidentally, she was a paramour of the assasinated Kennedy brothers John and Robert as well Mafia boss Sam Giancana).

By Warhol or not

Warhol’s words about the fleeting nature of fame may not have been actually his. Some reports attribute the words to photographer Nate Finkelstein who is reported as claiming to have uttered them in response to Warhol’s remark about his observation that “everyone wants to be famous”. But as reported by art critic Blake Gopnik in the Marketplace magazine: “We’ve decided it’s by Warhol, whether he likes it or not, we’ve created and continue to create the Warhol brand for ourselves.”

Self- addiction

If it is the ordained lot of artists to mirror society, and then Warhol was indeed a keen observor of soicety. If indeed he observed that “everyone wants to be famous”, then he could not have been more prescient in that observation. Take Facebook for instance. The runaway success of the platform with over a billion users across the globe is but ample evidence of this ‘self-addiction’. Too often, wanna be celebrities will flaunt their latest material possessions or even hairstyles on their Facebook pages. Soon enough, and depending on the number of ‘friends’ one has, the media spreads like wild fire as links to it are shared and so and so on. Virtual reality is the new reality and some have found a way to monetize their following in cyberspace.

Fame for fame’s sake

Ours is the age of the Kim Kardashians, the Pokello Nares, the Beverly Sibandas and lately the Zodwa waBantus. These ladies found a way to parlay their female bodies for fame and financial gain. But I see a thread harking all the way back to Marilyn Monroe. She may have been a talented actress but the pundits were not really interested in that talent. She was commoditised into a sex symbol- a symbol of men’s insatiable lust for beauty and voluptousness.

Kim Kardashian, perhaps not the air head that some initially made her out to be, produced a sex tape that made her into instant celebrity when it was released on to the internet. The scandal ensuing, or rather the notoriety she gained from it, merely fed into the publicity juggeraut she was to become and the tabloids’ hunger for the gutter was merely whetted. Kim Kardashian is neither a singer nor an actress nor a ballerina.  But over 150 million times, the sex tape which was legally aired by Vivid Entertainment in 2007 has been watched and has made a reported $100 million for the company. Kim is reported to have received $5 million from the tape! Six months after the publication of the tape, E! offered her a reality show Keeping up with the Kardashians in tandem with trending television format of reality shows.

 Scandal ain’t what it used to be!

Borrowing Kardashian’s script, Pokello also attained her fame through similar means i.e. a sex tape in which she starred with her then boyfriend musician Desmond ‘Stunner’ Chideme. Pokello Nare (now married), is probably Zimbabwe’s own version of Kim Kardashian. To Nare’s credit is the fact that whereas she is a university graduate, Kim never graduated from high school. It is interesting to note that before the now famous sex tape which was also leaked on line and blurred the lines on acceptable public conduct, very few people outside of her circle knew about Pokello Nare. Latterly, she was to successfully apply to be part of the Big Brother Africa reality television show. Her fame grew as it seemed that tabloids could not get enough of her. Somehow, there are people…throngs of lusty men who will part with good money to be titillated by the sight of a female body. It is a timeless and primal urge that knows no boundary.

New media revolution

But the proliferation of ideas and diffusion of innovations across cultures has largely been aided and abetted by the mass media and attendant technologies. Initially, radio, television and film were the mediums via which the stories of notable persons in society could parlayed for fame and in some instances fortune. More recently, the World Wide Web has become the most dominant medium of communication. Along with its rise to popularity, innovations such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and You Tube to name but a few have become mass communication staples. Whilst observing popular culture and culture in general, it may not be farfetched to conclude that whatever becomes a ‘hit’, is in itself an indicator of the prevailing value system of society at the given time. Thus it is even now. It is also very notable how that in the past artists generally tended to influence public discourses and contibute to the thought culture of societies.

Everyone wants to be famous

Not only notable persons are being depicted in these platforms. Even the unknowns are grabbing a slice of the cake. Notoriety is the new popular. Inexorably, we seem to be moving into a cultural morass, a dystopian nightmare that is bereft of absolutes. Values of decency or what is considered tasteful is increasingly becoming relative to the situation and to individual circumstances. The rise of the likes of Zodwa, Pokello and Kim Kardashian may therefore be viewed in the context of this new celebrity culture of fame for fame’s sake. Some say it’s a vacuous show, a bonfire of vanities. But this is show business and there is none like it for salaciousness. What the baying masses want, they get and canny club managers with ears to the ground and noses sniffing on the winds are smelling blood. It is ancient Rome all over again.

 

 

 

EVERYTHING STARTS WITH AN IDEA

Someone once said that there is nothing more powerful in the entire world than an idea whose time has come. Disney, for example, is today valued at around US$150 billion and generates revenues of over US$50 billion annually.Not bad for a company that started with a cartoon called Mickey Mouse !

Dreams to gold

Steve Jobs was a listless college dropout when he met future collaborator and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. Jobs had been what can be called a bum, dabbler in eastern mysticism, psychedelia and other unproductive pursuits such as watching television for hours on end.His biography is well documented and I will not bother you with details. The moral of this tale is that this same guy is now famous for altering the way we work and live in the 21st Century via the invention of the Macintosh computer abbreviated Mac and related products iPhone, iTunes and iPad.The Apple brand is well loved for the ingenuity of the design and the functionality of its product lines.

No grand plan starting out

Of course Jobs did not have a grand plan when he set out as a young dreamer who society might have dismissed as a failure after dropping out of college.But when he met with other minds of purpose (such as Wozniak and Bill Gates), he crystallised his vision and became a formidable innovator and shrewd businessman.

When Steve Jobs died,he left behind a multi-billion dollar company.The company is currently under the stewardship of Tim Rice. Jobs is reportedly said to have summarised his life maxim as follows: “You’ve got to find what you love.And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking. Don’t settle.”He had given the talk to graduates at Stanford University in 2005 in a speech entitled “How to live before you die”.

Innovative ideas have led thousands from poverty to fortune and fame. Many of the world’s businesses started off as concepts that bothered their possessors till they began to execute them.Several epochs after creation, humans who started off in a garden have been responsible for the creation and invention of many brilliant contraptions and technology that has at the same time moved civilisation forward as well as threatening to extinguish it !

Music icon and Stimela frontman Ray Phiri snags young bride

Ray Phiri, 69, put the lyrics of his iconic song Whispers In The Deep into practice when he got hitched for the third time in his life a fortnight ago.

Some of the lyrics in the popular song say “phinda mzala”, loosely translated meaning “do it again”.

The madala tied the knot with his Venda sweetheart Rabelani Mulaudzi, 24, in a low-key traditional wedding held in Tshisauli village in Venda.ray-phiri-marries-jpg1a

Phiri, who is 45 years older than Mulaudzi, declined to comment on his nuptial.

“Who are you and what gives you the right to talk to me? I don’t want to talk to you, thank you,” he said.

Mulaudzi confirmed she wedded the dance wizard but refused to answer further questions about her pregnancy and the wedding ceremony.

“No no no, I don’t want to talk about my marriage. Where did you get my number from? I’m not willing to talk openly about my marriage. I don’t want to sound rude to you but I’m gonna get off the phone if you keep asking me questions about my marriage,” she said when probed.

News that the former Stimela band member was chugging down the panties of a woman 45 years his junior was revealed by musicians close to him.

One musician, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Phiri and Mulaudzi got hitched after dating for almost two years.

The musician said the two met at one of Phiri’s concerts in Mpumalanga early last year.

The artist said it was love at first sight and the two immediately started dating.

Another musician said Phiri decided to tie the knot with Mulaudzi after knocking her up.

“She was pregnant when they got married and they are expecting a kid,” he said.

The musician said this will be Phiri’s third marriage.

His first wife Daphney died in a car accident in Barberton in Mpumalanga in 2003.

Phiri was travelling on a gravel road when the vehicle overturned several times, instantly killing his wife.

His second wife Phumzile died of anemia last year.

source:ngwakom@sundayworld.co.za