SOME years ago, I think it was 2005 or 2006, a friend and local arts promoter decided to promote a Soul Brothers tour of Matabeleland/ Zimbabwe.
If my memory serves me right, the Soul Brothers had performances in Beitbridge, Bulawayo and Hwange. It was a three legged tour — a big one.
At first the friend was really excited about the tour but towards the end you could physically see the strain the tour was causing him.
If he was not a strong man he could have collapsed and probably died from stress.
In other words this particular tour was near disaster; disaster not in terms of organisation but in terms of patronage — people just did not turn up for the shows. The Soul Brothers are legends in their own right. For many years, this male band, actually embedded itself into the cultural life of the people of Matabeleland with little ease.
In the 80s and 90s they were the band to listen to. I remember one of their Bulawayo tours when they filled Barbourfields Stadium with a paying audience and so when the friend decided to bring them back we all thought it made economic sense — we all believed the promoter was definitely going to make his money or at least break even.
But that was not to be as all the three shows — Beitbridge, Bulawayo and Hwange, were badly attended.
Fast forward to 2017. The Soul Brothers are brought back to Bulawayo, all on the assumption that they are legends and people still enjoy their songs and by extension their performances.
Again the people shied away from their performance — the people did not turn up in huge numbers as anticipated.
To be honest the Soul Brothers’ performance was actually very good. It is just unfortunate that only a few hundreds witnessed this good performance.
The previous day Dan Tshanda’s Splash Festival had also witnessed more or less the number of people. And many were left wondering.
Could it be that Bulawayo has started to slowly withdraw from wantonly supporting anything from down South?
Or could it be that the Soul Brothers and Splash have passed their sale by date in this city? Or was it simply a question of the $10 charged at the gate being rather on the stiff side for the local audience?
Or perhaps a question of too many shows during the festive season?
2017 is finally gone and as we bid farewell we remember some of the arts events that really left an indelible mark our minds.
First I think Skyz Metro FM continued to justify its existence in Bulawayo.
The radio station has made visible some artistes who were being overlooked and marginalised.
With their Umcimbi Wabantu concert and SkyzMetro Awards they have already set the bar high for other stations to follow.
Instead of crying and screaming at national stations our local artistes have a place and a station that wants them to fly and soar the skies.
In the same year Bulawayo launched the Bulawayo Arts Awards. When these were launched a lot of critics didn’t give them a chance.
A lot of things were said about the organisers and why the awards would not succeed. But surprisingly they became the best thing to come out of Bulawayo this 2017. The awards were a glitz and glamour affair. Bulawayo people came out in full support of the event.
The Large City Hall became too small. According to the Chronicle, “the event caused a disruption.
35 000 people watched the show live on Facebook.
The show had 130 000 hits, over 5 000 comments. The awards trended for over three weeks on social media.”
Farewell to 2017. May 2018 be a good year.