2020 challenging year for live performing artistes

Albert Nyathi

Tafadzwa Zimoyo Senior Arts Reporter

It is undeniable that 2020 has been a bad year for the poetry sector, which was not only affected by Covid-19, but resulted in artistes failing to take advantage of available platforms.

In fact, there was not much creativity in the sector this year.

Despite the arts industry being in its infancy, a lot of sub-sectors that are in existence.

Sectors that make up the industry are music, film and television, comedy, sculpture, books and poetry.


But poets have been facing a plethora of problems, traditionally, including being sidelined.

Somehow, poets in Zimbabwe are on the    periphery of the mainstream arts industry and hardly make it to the zenith.

Only a few have made it in terms of popularity and having big names out there and these include the likes of Albert Nyathi, Chirikure Chirikure, Chenjerai Hove, Mbizo Chirasha, Shimmer Chinodya and Mgcini Nyoni.

But ask them about their welfare and they will honestly tell you that they have not gained much financially.

These problems have however, not deterred poets.

There is in fact a new crop of poets such as Tendekai Philemon Tati, affectionately known as Madzitatiguru, Arnold “SoProfound” Chirimika, Bulawayo-based Tinashe Tafirenyika and Kimberly Mabika, who are starting to dominate the genre.

But some poets this year ended up diversifying into other fields, including comedy and drama in a bid to survive the Covid-19 onslaught.

The biggest undoing for the poets this year was their failure to embrace the virtual platforms, which actually helped resurrect some artistes acts in other parts of the world.

This was a cheaper way presented by Covid-19 restrictions for artistes to market themselves.

Gone should be the days when poets wait upon formal platforms like television to market themselves and make a few dollars because virtual performances are also claiming their fair share as platforms for such acts.


Poetry is important in society because it helps people to understand and appreciate the world around us.

The good thing is that poetry’s strength lies in its ability to shed a “sideways” light on the world, so the truth sneaks up.

Speaking to The Herald Arts, award-winning poet-cum-musician Nyathi confirmed that 2020 has been a bad year for poets.

“For a start, the sector was affected by Covid-19 negatively,” he said.

“I was supposed to travel to five countries, but failed because of the disease. However, in some instances, opportunities unveiled themselves — Covid-19 songs sprouted up.

“Some artistes were invariably commissioned by various institutions to create works on Covid-19. That brought a bit of income to some.

“The sector should keep on improving itself as creativity means exactly that. Successful artistes should not sit on their laurels. Art is continuous work.”

Nyathi said poetry taught people how to live.

“Poetry opens the vulnerabilities of human beings so we can all relate to each other a little better,” he said.

“If we fully embrace it, it can offer us a way to empathise with one another.”