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    Wednesday, April 17, 2019

    Thrills, Spills, Surprises at Zimbabwe's 18th National Arts Merit Awards

    Rising dancehall singer Enzo Ishall proved why he is called the man of the moment when his hit song, Kanjiva, was voted the best song of the year at the 18th edition of the annual National Arts Merit Awards.
    The 18th edition of National Arts Merit Awards (NAMA) was held amid pomp and fanfare at the weekend.
    The venue -- the Harare International Conference Centre (HICC) -- was a great improvement from the previous editions as organisers the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ), looked for space and affluence.
    One must admit, this was probably the best they could do. I am alive to the fact that any event, however good, will always have its critics.

    The audience was passive.
    Indeed, they can't force audience to clap or ululate if they didn't.
    The stage work, lightning and sound was top notch. One can argue the event set a new tone for future editions and this could be a great opportunity for corporates to come on board and support local talent.

    The initiative is commendable considering the stature of NAMA.

    And for both nominees and winners the NAMAs are a must have.

    Of course, the 18th edition had all the glitz associated with red carpet events, but like any other award ceremony, for the show to be successful it called for a big budget.

    You could see where the money was spent and where money was not used.

    For instance, since organisers chose a sitting arrangement and dinner, there should have been welcoming drinks from the red carpet.

    These were not there, yet this bodes well for such a glamorous events.

    Elsewhere in the region particularly in South Africa, awards ceremonies are held in spacious venues to allow for TV cameras to move freely without congesting the auditorium and secondly, you need a venue that is air conditioned.

    While the sitting arrangement at HICC was good, the room was not filled up, a sign that the show was poorly marketed.

    Zimbabwe is vast and multi-talented.
    This could be a result of the postponement after Cyclone Idai but even then, organisers were supposed to make noise about the event.
    That said, the presence of well-known celebrities among them Zodwa Zozo Mkandla, Genius Ginimbi Kadungure, Sibusisiwe Dube, Cindy Munyavi, Tariro Makanga, Baba Harare, Sandra Ndebele, Albert Nyathi and Musa Effect was a boost.
    However, something was amiss at the awards despite the presence of the celebrities.

    What NAMA needs to do is to allow for a reception where guests mix and mingle as they enjoy drinks and snacks just before the main event, instead of proper dinner.

    Dinner is too official.

    Once the show starts, there should be no movement and those who want to visit rest-rooms do so during break or when there is a performance since the cameras will be focusing on the stage.
    Nowadays, there is no need to take guests to some club or anywhere outside of the venue of the awards ceremony.
    It's easier to have an after-party at the same venue where more guests mix and mingle enjoying drinks on the house.

    Remember, I mentioned earlier award shows need big budgets and this is easy to see. Suffice to say, after the NAMAs it was surprising there was no official after-party.
    The awards show did however, give an impetus to the fashion sector which has been in limbo for some time. The theme for the night was African Royalty. And Hello! That means dressing to the theme.

    Unfortunately NAMA were the first offenders as their models who accompanied the award presenters far from resembled African kings and queens.
    Even the hostess of the night somehow missed the plot, come now, let's practise what we preach.

    Zimbabweans need to be educated that sometimes you are not expected to dress to the whole theme, but you can get away with a little bit of statement.
    Turning to the reason why people gathered, there was some outcry over winners but why not support what the judges came up with, they made their decision on the basis of evidence that was before them.
    Everyone has their favourites and even if yours had won, someone else would have complained.

    Production-wise, the awards had some glitches which could have been avoided.
    It is best that presenters read from a teleprompter because it makes it easier for flawless presentation.
    Frankly speaking, it is boring to hear presenters saying the usual clichés "here are the nominees" or "and the winner is" without giving anecdotes before the award handover.

    As for the red carpet, it wasn't a red carpet, because well, there was no carpet.
    There was also lack of vibe at the entrance where it was not clear who owned the red carpet. Please give the hosting duties of red carpet events to industry professionals.
    On the whole, this year's NAMA show was good and next year we expect it to be better!
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