The Sunday News
Bruce Ndlovu, Sunday Life Reporter
NINE years after it became a must attend music extravaganza, few revellers that attend the popular Kalawa Homecoming gigs on 27 December of every year may remember that the event was not even called that when it was born.
The year was 2010 and Oskido, so long the darling of dance music loving fans in Bulawayo, announced that he would be combining with city businessman and politician Gift Banda and Delta Beverages to bring the party of the year to the city in which he had spent his formative years.
Held on the 31 December instead of the now traditional 27 December, that event, the Woza 2011 gig, was to be Oskido’s way of giving back to Bulawayo, a city that had so often “claimed” him as his star continued to rise in South Africa.
“Oskido and I have decided to make this show an annual event as a way of giving back to the Bulawayo community and most importantly, fans who have given us support over the years,” Banda told the Sunday News Magazine at the time.
With those words the deal was sealed. Bulawayo, a city that had looked on for years as Oskido barely mentioned his roots in the City of Kings, had always behaved like a child waited with abated breath for acknowledgement from its long absent father. Now it was about to have its moment.
Kalawa would bring the artistes and Delta Beverages through its Bohlingers brand, would handle the technical aspects of the gig. A year later Oskido and the beverage giant would part ways, with insiders saying that Delta wanted the gigs to continue being held on New Year’s Eve while Oskido insisted on 27 December.
While a Homecoming gig was held at the then Horizon Pub and Grill in 2011, the Kalawa Homecoming gigs would take off proper the next year at Queens Sports Club, with Oskido now going it alone. From that year, the event would be moulded in his image.
So many of South Africa’s top acts graced Bulawayo for the first time at the Homecoming gig and people flocked in their thousands to see them. But it was more than just about the artistes. It was about Oskido and the sentimental value that his name holds in Bulawayo. The Bohlingers gigs held on 31 December were spectacular failures with Oskido’s name missing from the advertising banners.
While they continued to bring South African acts, people did not seem as willing to spend the last night of the year in the wide open, with the prospects of the skies opening up above them as they usually do at that time of the year.
Meanwhile, the Kalawa Homecoming got stronger and stronger, reaching its climax in 2016 when Oskido brought the feuding rappers AKA and Cassper Nyovest to the same stage.
The continued growth of the Homecoming has not been by accident. Since the concept was born, Oskido has been leveraging on the love the people of Bulawayo have for him and their yearning for his acknowledgment.
The son that had always been craving a nod from his absent father now gets a visit every year. The catch is that he has to dig into his own usually half empty pockets to pay for that visit. Over the last two editions, the Homecoming has been in clear decline, with the line-ups invited failing to inspire those that had got used to a diet of A-list stars at the gig.
Even with that the anticipation and for the gigs has not diminished. By November of every year, everyone wants to know which of the year’s hottest stars have made it on the Kalawa Homecoming line-up. However, that might have all changed last week when it was announced that Oskido and his label had rejected a ROIL Bulawayo Arts Awards nomination as he vehemently maintained that he is South African.
While many will see his latest rejection as a sign of Oskido’s arrogance or identity crisis, Zimbabweans should also take a cold hard look at themselves and what they deem to be success in the world of entertainment.
When American-based singer Tinashe disputed her Zimbabwean roots last month, there was a similar outcry from her countrymen, who felt that they had been robbed of a jewel they had long coveted and celebrated. This was despite the fact that the jewel was doing the robbing herself.
Now it is Oskido’s turn. For those who have watched his career closely, however, the Kalawa supremo’s rejection should not come as a surprise. Many in South Africa are not aware of Oskido’s Zimbabwean roots and some regularly dispute that he indeed is from north of the Limpopo. This is because Oskido, the son of a former Zimbabwean parliamentarian, and known by many as a Luveve boy, barely ever mentions his upbringing. It is assumed that he is South African and he is happy to keep it that way. The only time he seemed ready to shed his South African skin was when he came to Bulawayo at the tail end of December to collect his annual paycheck at the Homecoming gig.
Zimbabweans have for years ignored his silent rejection because he has never said it out aloud. The time was always going to come when the question, whispered secretly for years, would be asked publicly. Now it has and without a doubt, the answer stung and it has rightfully led to a lot of soul searching.
As Tinashe and Oskido have shown, it is perhaps time to acknowledge that not all those whose blood is Zimbabwean are still connected to the dust and rocks of their country of origin. For some, Zimbabwe is just a country where their umbilical cords are buried and where their relatives live. And Oskido’s team reportedly said he was in fact born in South Africa and just spent part of his childhood here in Zimbabwe.
The hunger for foreign approval and success, especially in Bulawayo where only those who can be said to have “made it” attain their success out the country’s second largest city, has led some to celebrate stars that would probably freeze in their step at the mere mention of their country of birth.
With revellers this year having already shown that they are willing to part with much sought after foreign currency to watch foreign acts in action, the Kalawa Homecoming looks set to make a comeback again this year.
When it does, no one should blame anyone who asks whose home exactly Oskido will be coming to.