Bruce Ndlovu, Sunday Life Correspondent
DESPITE the overwhelming success of the recently held Bulawayo Arts Awards, veteran arts doyen Cont Mhlanga believes that the use of the “Asifuni Bumbulu” slogan stole some of the gloss from what was otherwise a glittering event.
The slogan was the echoing statement of the night, with many of the presenters adopting it while it was also widely used on social media. Loosely translated to “we don’t want nonsense”, asifuni bumbulu has been the buzz phrase in Bulawayo since the ill tempered match between soccer arch-rivals Highlanders and Dynamos. The phrase came to being as a reaction to the perceived poor handling of the crunch match by Gweru referee Thomas Kusosa, who Highlanders fans felt had bungled many referring calls against the boys in black and white.
The statement seems to have spilled from the frenetic Barbourfields Stadium stands to the glitz and glamour of the Large City Hall, something that did not go down well with Mhlanga. The man widely considered the elder statesman in the Bulawayo arts fraternity was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award on the night.
“Overall I was happy with the entire production which was world class but one thing that didn’t please me was the use of the asifuni bumbulu slogan.
The saddest thing about those chants were that they weren’t coming from the audience but from the presenters who were expected to provide the direction of the entire event,” Mhlanga said in an interview with Sunday Life.
The veteran arts practitioner said that the use of the slogan on the night was without merit, as it was neither the time nor the place to use the phrase.
“As a person you just don’t carry everything everywhere. There is a time and place for everything. You don’t go dressed in your underwear to the club.
The underwear is what you put on to go to sleep so don’t try to put it on when you go to drink in a bar.
“We mustn’t portray Bulawayo people as emotionally unstable because we’ve been wronged in the past. We should know how to express ourselves. I say this because that statement is a statement of defiance and we shouldn’t behave like the people of Bulawayo are experts at poking people from other regions. The use of the slogan was simply out of line,” he said.
Mhlanga said that despite his misgivings about the use of the slogan as the official tagline of the night, he was happy with the way everything else went including his acknowledgment by the show’s organisers, many of whom he mentored in the early stages of their careers.
“I was really humbled to be remembered by people that I consider students of mine. To be honoured at home really feels great and that’s something that we’ve always been lacking.
“Another thing to consider is that from now on is that with the coming of these awards the era of self crowning is over. We now know that Madlela is king. Anyone else that wants to call themselves king now has to come and win more awards than Madlela. You can longer just call yourself the greatest because you walked out of the studio and felt the song you made is good,” Mhlanga said.
Mhlanga had no kind words for the national broadcaster ZBC, which failed to beam the awards as initially promised.
“That was a fatal error on their part. A city can’t do something of that magnitude and you just ignore it. In terms of showbiz that was an error in judgement on their part and they will find it hard to recover from it,” he said.