The Sunday News
Bruce Ndlovu, Sunday Life Reporter
LARGELY considered the gig of the year in the City of Kings, Oskido’s Kalawa Homecoming, appears to be in real danger of being scrapped this year, with insiders saying this year’s extravaganza is no longer in the famous South African record stable’s plans.
With the festive season fast approaching, all eyes are now on the Kalawa Homecoming which, like last year, has noticeably not had the buzz and sense of anticipation that it had in previous years.
The Homecoming has been in noticeable decline over the last few years, after it arguably reached its peak in 2015 when it put feuding rappers Cassper Nyovest and AKA on the same stage.
Since then things have gone downhill, with the 2016 edition seeing a lightweight line-up strengthened by the presence of local superstars Winky D and Jah Prayzah, two performers that some observers felt were symptoms of the music extravaganza’s growing identity crisis. The 2017 edition was moved to Amazulu Sports Club due to renovations at Queens Sports Club. That move a few hundred metres from the Homecoming’s traditional home dampened the mood and led some to believe that the show had lost some of its gloss despite the fact that the ultimate decision was not in their hands.
Last year, the Homecoming was a pale shadow of its former glorious self, as it finally moved away from the city’s big sports stadiums to a local club, Cosmopolitan. After that steady decline, it seems like this year’s event could be cancelled altogether.
When Sunday Life contacted him this week, Kalawa spokesperson, Arthur Scotch Mathenga was coy, saying he could not confirm if the gig was off or not.
“I’m not in a position to respond now as I can’t confirm if it’s true or not. Please also get in touch with Vusi (Vusumuzi Siqalaba) our promoter from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe,” Mathenga said.
Kalawa’s local promotional effort has in the past been fronted by Siqalaba of XMO Squad. However, he was not available for comment last week with indications that he had also relocated to South Africa earlier in the year.
An insider at Kalawa’s South African offices who spoke on condition of anonymity said fans should not hold their breath as the gig was now effectively off. Initial planning for this year’s Homecoming started early last month, with a draft list of artistes for this year’s gig featuring some of 2019’s hottest acts like Sjava, Mlindo the Vocalist and Samthing Soweto. However, those plans appear to be now up in smoke with Kalawa head honchos pointing to the tough economic times in Zimbabwe as the ultimate reason for canning the gig.
“It is off. People in Bulawayo will have to find another source of entertainment in December,” the source said.
A local entertainment heavyweight who worked on last year’s gig also told Sunday Life that they were confused about this year’s show, as Kalawa’s usually smooth planning seemed to be in disarray.
“One week they say it’s on and on another day they say it’s now off. I’m equally confused,” the source said.
In an interview on a local radio station a fortnight ago, Kalawa supremo Oskido suggested that preparations for the 2019 edition of the Homecoming were still touch and go, as the economic situation was discouraging. To bring in a single artiste, for a performance at a small club promoters have to fork out 15 percent of the artiste’s overall fee, including their fares and upkeep, to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra), US$250 to the Censorship Board, US$500 to the National Arts Council and US$500 to immigration authorities. By bringing artistes under the Kalawa banner, the Homecoming was earning a considerable discount.
“Well we’re still thinking. The idea is to bring the 25th anniversary of Kalawa Jazmee but due to the economic situation right now we’re still trying to evaluate (whether to go ahead with it or not),” Oskido said.
It is still not clear whether the lazy approach to the organisation of this year’s gig has anything to do with the backlash that came after Oskido snubbed the Bulawayo Arts Awards earlier this year. The former Gifford High School boy denied his Zimbabwean roots, claiming he was a South African, who only grew up in Bulawayo. Oskido expressed frustration with the way that he had been treated.
“I think I have to clarify this, because people always think when we come and do this thing (show) and we make a lot of money and we are taking the money out of the country. I mean there has been a lot of stupid newspaper articles written about this concert but what we were trying to do was to bring the vibe back to Bulawayo and not to be attacked.
“We are spending a lot of money doing this gig. It is expensive and we were not even making a lot of money. It was a feeling I had because I grew up here to just say let me give back to the community, let’s do this so that Bulawayo becomes a city . . . But at the end of the day people start attacking you. For me (the point) is to put Bulawayo on the map and nothing else because this is such a golden town,” he said.