BY SHARON SIBINDI
THE southern region’s 2020 showbiz calendar has been characterised by highs and lows across genres.
Although the year started well with a number of artists mushrooming, some trying to become famous and pushing for better earnings, sadly very few completed the race.
Just a few months into the year, a dark cloud hung over the creative sector and some budding artistes, who were slowly finding their feet in the industry, were grounded by the global COVID-19 outbreak.
This forced artistes across genres to put their promising projects on hold while live performances, that attracted physical gatherings, were banned.
The creative sector was plunged into mourning after the death of award-winning hip-hop artiste Cal_Vin in a hit and run car accident in October close to his home.
Born Mgcini Calvin Nhliziyo in 1985, Cal_Vin was coming from watching Liverpool’s late-night clash against Sheffield United at Cricket Club in Luveve.
He died upon arrival at Mpilo Central Hospital and was buried at the Lady Stanley Cemetery in Bulawayo.
Last month organisers of the Roil Bulawayo Arts Awards (RoilBAA) honoured Cal_Vin by naming this year’s Outstanding Hip Hop award after him. The award was called The Calvin Mgcini Nhliziyo Hip Hop Award.
While Bulawayo was still mourning Cal_Vin, sadly, a founding member of the internationally-acclaimed Bulawayo arts group Inkululeko Yabatsha School of Arts (Iyasa), Sibonisiwe “The Original” Sithole, died at United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) after a short illness.
Sithole played a huge role in building Iyasa to an outfit that had become an inspiration to a number of the current crop of stars.
Birth of new creatives
A poet festival was launched in October by His Royal Highness of the Xhosa kingdom and Member of Parliament in South Africa, Zolani Mkiva through the Mkiva Humanitarian Foundation where he held the inaugural ceremony of the Mhlekazi International Poetry Festival and Mntwanomuhle Wine & Fashion Festival in Solongwe Concourse, Lobenvale, Bulawayo.
The fete that featured 10 poets will become an annual event for the creative industry and local poets will share the stage with their international counterparts.
Bulawayo filmmaker Braydan Heart launched his dystopian film — 18 Months Later which is inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic. Shot in Bulawayo, the film’s story line is about the character Anesu setting up a team to survive the worst pandemic.
The city of Kings and Queens also witnessed the birth of Pumula Royal Arts Community Awards (PRACA) which is aimed at promoting and revitalising up-and-coming, well established talent and leaders from Bulawayo community.
Some of the notable festivals that were held this year include Intwasa Arts Festival which brought some form of entertainment during the festive season.
Siyaya Arts hosted the Ibumba International Festival that featured several music genres. The event was considered one of the most well-co-ordinated virtual show.
Umkhathi Theatre Works founder held a virtual Bulawayo Children’s Festival, (Bulawayo ChildFest) this month which featured local and international acts. The event had viewers from Botswana, South Africa, Swaziland, the UK, Ecuador, United States of America, Germany and Mexico.
In the midst of the coronavirus, several artistes across genres were honoured at the fourth edition of the RoilBAA held in November at the Large City Hall.
However, the awards ceremony was halted towards the end after the police stormed the stage and forced the stoppage of the proceedings after the organisers failed to stick to agreed timelines in line with COVID-19 restrictions.
The awards dubbed The Biggest Dress Up Event in Bulawayo, have, however, grown into becoming one of the biggest arts events on the country’s entertainment calendar.
Some Bulawayo artistes ruled the roost at the Zim Hip-Hop Awards 2020 with rapper, Asaph bagging four gongs and a number of singers also raising the flag of the city of Kings and Queens.
Who rocked international stages
Bulawayo-based writer Bryony Rheam was the guest of honour at this year’s edition of the Cairo International Book Fair.
Globetrotting and all-female award-winning accapella group, Nobuntu, performed at Bermuda Festival of the Performing Arts that featured internationally-acclaimed artistes such as Grammy award-winning American Jazz icon Dianne Reeves.
The National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo underwent a facelift that took almost eight months during the COVID-19-induced lockdown.
The gallery also migrated to digital platforms so as to continue fulfilling its mandate of holding art exhibitions and encouraging interest in art.
With digitalisation spreading globally, the gallery hosted two virtual exhibitions during the time the gallery was shut down for renovations.
Sparks at the CREDISI concert
An array of artistes lit up the last show of the Creative Diversity and Social Inclusion (CREDISI) concert held in November live on the Iyasa’s Facebook page.
The programme, which kick-started in August last year with the aim to promote diversity and creativity in the local spaces, saw 12 acts taking turns to entertain the audience with Tshibilika music giants Clement Magwaza, Madlela Skhobokhobo, Sandra Ndebele-Sibindi and Vuyo Brown being among the performers at the concert.
Popular Bulawayo dancer-cum-singer Sandra “Sandy” Ndebele-Sibindi (pictured) said the showbiz industry should expect more from her as she would not be quitting anytime soon.
She made the remarks after her scintillating performance which proved she was still a force to reckon at the show dubbed Yesteryear Hits & Newstuff (2003-2020) that was live streamed on her Facebook and Instagram platforms.
Apart from music, fashion enthusiasts were in for a treat at an exclusive Pan African fashion and lifestyle platform, The PiChani, held in Bulawayo. It was spearheaded by Global Citizen, Forbes 30 under 30, Mandela Washington Fellow, Media Practitioner and its curator, Gilmore Tee.
The event attracted young achievers, entrepreneurs, movers and shakers that were all dressed to kill. Among those who attended the event were award-winning actress Charmaine Mudau, NGZ in Bulawayo director-Butholezwe Nyathi, ASAPH, Praise Worth, the Caligraph Duo, Mimmie Tarukwana, Mbo Mahocs, MUSE, Msiz’Kay, Novuyo Seagirl and Ricky Kamota.