The Sunday News
Of late there have been a lot of stories about Bulawayo artistes on most social media platforms. Most stories or posts have been about complaints and accusations. Each week there is a different complaint or accusation.
Marginalisation. Bulawayo artistes playing second fiddle to Harare artistes. Lack of support by Bulawayo. National radio and television stations side-lining Bulawayo artistes. Corporates not supporting the arts in Bulawayo. The list is very long.
To be honest there is a lot of substance in most of the complaints or grievances. But complaints thrown all over social media will remain that, mere complaints. They will get us likes, retweets and mentions and nothing more. Why? Because there is no order, artistes are not coming together to list and prioritise the issues and channelling them to the right offices or platforms.
This boils down to the disunity we have talked about for many years. The sector is full of individuals who see themselves more as islands. This why each one has their own complaints and in the end it just becomes a choir of complaints, with each trying to shout the loudest. The results of this many already know. Nothing changes. Every year we scream, we shout, we find people to blame or to accuse and then wait for another year to start the process.
Yes. Most of the grievances are true. But they are not all on the same level in terms of importance and urgency to solve. And besides all the issues cannot be solved on one platform. They need different strategies. First there is need to have people (artistes) who genuinely want to solve some of the problems and not those who talk and scream in order to draw attention to themselves.
We need a coming together of like minds, people who want to positively influence the sector. We need structures or just an organised grouping that would be listened to if they engaged the formal sector — there is need for associations to step up here. Fine, we can all talk. We can all complain. It’s a free country and no one is stopping anyone.
However, if we need change in the sector we need to start organising ourselves and speaking with one voice. Remember there is strength is numbers. With numbers we can properly influence and get proper responses. But this chorus of complaints we keep seeing and hearing ends the same way always — with nothing changing.
Complaining daily is damaging a lot of artistes’ confidence. Now we have many artistes asking themselves if they are good enough, if they should leave Bulawayo to make it or just change their target market and move away from Bulawayo. This is corrosive to the creative mind. The result is a lot of toxic conversation and negativity about the arts sector in the city. We are all forgetting this should be the cultural hub of the country. We should be vibing positive energy only.
Away from complaining we need also to be creating good vibes around the city and its arts spaces. Good vibes always attract positive minded people. We need to acknowledge the good things happening in the city. The biggest challenge at the moment is we applaud only what our friends are doing or the projects or activities that we think can benefit us.
Anything Bulawayo, if it’s positive and has a promise should be given a chance and supported by anyone who loves and values the growth of Bulawayo’s arts scene. There is a lot of room for a lot of projects to proper. However, we all competing and if it’s not us winning, no one else is winning.
I still think it’s possible for Bulawayo to live to her reputation of a thriving cultural hub if we all work towards to the bigger picture and not just individual success.