Shoko Festival 2016 Diary

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The Harare International Festival of the Arts was very special to me and mine. Since it was first introduced, I have only missed one edition, and not for lack of trying.

It was the one week in every year when we could forget all our troubles and immerse ourselves in the sights, sounds, food and drink of an international arts festival.

HIFA became so important that friends abroad would schedule it a year in advance, and there’d be excitement and discussions over who the biggest act would be each year. My wife even fled a posting in Zambia once, just to be around for HIFA.

Since the untimely demise of HIFA, Zimbabwe’s arts landscape has appeared rather bleak – it occupied a special place not just in our wallets and leave schedules, but in our hearts.

With such a yawning gap in this year’s calendar of festivities, Shoko Festival has stepped up and is improving with each edition.

Putting aside my own personal and professional relationships with Magamba Network, and donning the more comfortable hat of a music-loving, whisky-swilling delinquent, Shoko is becoming an increasingly exciting feature on the Harare arts landscape.

This is my own little diary of Shoko Festival 2016, held on the 23rd and 24th of September in Harare, at the Museum of Human Sciences and Harare City Library.

There will be some gaps in the timeline – being a judge of the Hub Awards again, I did manage to spend some time at the Hub Unconference held at the Library, but never actually managed to make it to the festival venues anytime before lunchtime, on either day.

I also say “either day” because I didn’t manage to visit Chitungwiza on the Sunday, for obvious reasons involving Jah Prayzah and a well-stocked cooler-box.

Lunch

23 September, 2016

Lunch

So, it begins. After a bit of official government business, I head to the City Library to check in, then over to the Museum for lunch. I bump into Comrade Fatso, who offers to buy me lunch. I agree, obviously, because colonialism reparations. There’s all sorts of youthful things happening in the Brickhill Dome. Schoolkids doing things. Good vibes. Bad lunch. Should have got a shwarma, instead of deep fried chicken and thinly shaved “fries”.

The Hub

23 September, 2016

The Hub

Talks, discussion panels and pitches for the Hub Awards. Lots of interesting stuff, and a few engaging pitches. Picking a winner in each category will be a tough job, with so much talent on show.

House of Hunger Poetry Slam

23 September, 2016

In keeping with the norms and standards expected from a) a festival, and b) a poetry jam, a few of the participants appear to be operating under the influence of certain herbacious and mildly hallucinogenic substances. Hilarious.

Sunset Acoustic

23 September, 2016

Sunset Acoustic

If I wanted to watch a pretty girl dance around in short shorts, I’d have waited til Ammara tomorrow. Expected Tamy to be acoustic guitar music, after what I’d been told, but she had other ideas. A couple of great songs, performance just a bit off. Thank god I’d crashed the cocktail party, so I had somewhere to flee to. Vee Mukarati came after and redeemed the slot like the pro he is.

Comedy

23 September, 2016

Great job all round, with a sterling performance from Zambezi News in particular. Were I a rapper, I’d never wanna get on their bad side. Mandla seemed to wanna be like Clive Chigubu, though.

Tehn Diamond

23 September, 2016

Tehn Diamond

Came on at the perfect time, that kismetic conflunce of cooler-boxes, and killed it. As expected. Obviously.

AKA

23 September, 2016

AKA

Social media will tell you that AKA is a this, a that, a who and a what. Maybe he is, I don’t know the guy. If you pay attention to South African Twitter, you’ll think he’s the national clown. This performance, however, made me realise that the guy is actually famous for a reason. He’s good at his job. I was entertained, which is pretty fucking difficult.

Winky D

24 September, 2016

Winky D

Ninja President. Gaffa. Dancehall Igwe. Godfather of ZimDancehall. Legend in our lifetime.

Hub Awards

24 September, 2016

Hub Awards

Meeting with fellow judges Vivienne Marara and Caroline O’Donovan. Already the dumbest person in the squad, but tried to make intelligent-sounding noises. Vibrant discussion, results seem legit, then off to Old Georgians for the rugby.

Bryan K

24 September, 2016

Bryan K

Bryan Kadengu is a special talent, and although I was a little wobbly after the previous night’s activities, and a few silly doubles at OGs, I enjoyed his set while I fought with the World’s Toughest Pork Chop (don’t ask).

Comedy

24 September, 2016

Donovan Goliath is actually pretty fucking brilliant. Had never seen him perform before, and I was pretty damn impressed. Some jokes were low-hanging fruit for us drunkards. I, personally, was so wobbly I had to sit in a chair. Ugh. I’m such an amateur.

Jah Prayzah

24 September, 2016

Jah Prayzah

Jah Prayzah, the man of the moment. No longer as wobbly, after an hour in a chair, I was dancing and marching along to every song. Everything was on point, the band, the outfits, the vocals, the … vibe. I wish him all the money on Earth!

Ammara Brown

24 September, 2016

As if my black Nikes weren’t already brown enough (ha!), I then had to dance the kongonya. There also may, or may not, have been a couple of Mukoko High Kicks. Thank lawd for knee-braces.

Brilliant times. Long live Shoko Festival, and thanks to everyone involved in making it happen.

Forever.

I am glad Rhodes fell

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*Scroll to the 12'45 mark, to hear me mumble incoherently

I haven’t been blogging much of late, chiefly because I have decided that I will no longer just write for writing’s sake, but only when I have something to say.

I think many bloggers fall into the trap where they feel compelled to push content, on a timetable or in reaction to events, and quality be damned. I’d rather stick to my work, than type out shit I don’t feel.

I realise this kind of thinking and behaviour leads to a drop in readership and metrics, but that’s only if readers and stats are the only goals in expressing yourself. Besides, if the content’s not quality, and you’re not writing from the heart, there’s no fucking point in blogging anyway.

So.

Until late yesterday afternoon, I had been watching the controversy around the Rhodes statue at UCT from a distance.

Then I saw a tweet, in reply to a question about “Decolonising South African universities”, saying that statues represent our history. This was, inevitably, from a white youth.

And that flipped my switch, which ended up in my reprising my Reuben Barwe accent on Al Jazeera.

They represent “our” history. I got to wondering whose history he was talking about. Was his a collective or tribal “our”?

Because this is the new Africa – black people won. Our history is a painful one of colonialism, slavery, mass murder, land theft, rape and mass subjugation of the black African people.

It is okay to remember our history, but we don’t need to maintain monuments to it. Rhodes was a mass murderer and a land thief; that is not in question. We had to fight actual wars to rid ourselves of the legacy of Cecil John Rhodes and his cronies.

Why in Africa must we still maintain the relics, monuments and idols of our British imperialist subjugators?

Monuments and symbols are a reflection of a society and culture, why have monuments to our defeated enemies?

Where else but in Africa do the victors of war maintain the monuments of their former enemies, who they defeated?

Have we, as Africans run out of heroes to build monuments to, that we clamour to defend the monuments of our very own villains?

Whose idols & monuments do I want my kids in an independent Africa seeing daily? British imperialists or liberation struggle heroes?

I believe we need to give more prominence to glorifying our liberators instead of allowing the relics of our colonisers to abide, as if we didn’t win. It’s a cultural issue.

I am okay with a remote grave or shrine somewhere at a historical site. But I want my kids to be seeing statues of our liberators about town; people who actually defeated the evil of colonialism, and not monuments to the architects of our subjugation.

I want my kids surrounded by symbols honouring the heroes, not the villains.

I say fuck it, put them in a museum. Those who wanna worship at the foot of Cecil John Rhodes can go and visit him there, like they do his grave.

Anyone who wants to genuflect at the feet of their statues is free to do so, but our public spaces should reflect the realities of not just our history but our existing realities and the future we want.

We have enough idols worth erecting; the Mandelas and Sobukwes and Bikos and Nkomos and Tongogaras and Sankaras and Nehandas deserve the honour of commanding our parks and traffic circles and university quads, because they fought to free those spaces from the CJRs and Beits and Jamesons and Victorias and Elizabeths and their legacies.

Decolonising the mind is not an event, it is a process. A part of this process is removing the notion that the alabaster master is inviolate.

I am glad that is no longer an issue, and the statue has been taken down. This can open up a larger conversation across Africa about how we maintain our colonial relics at the expense of our traditional ones (many of which were destroyed).

Just one more thing – if you think “there are bigger issues” than a statue to “focus” on, that’s your choice. Please proceed to focus on those bigger issues, or anything else you feel is worthy of your attention.

You do not have to be “distracted” by all this “hullabaloo” about a statue; nothing and nobody is preventing you from doing all the “better things to do”.

It is time to free our minds.

Why Zimbabwe Is Like Kill Bill (It Is Not What You Think)

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The Kill Bill movies have to be some of the best film-making of all time, and I could spend all day narrating my favourite scenes.

Like Black Mamba telling Vivica’s daughter that if she’s still sore when she grows up, she can come after her, and the little girl just has a “What the holy fuck” look on her face.

When she opens the door to dude’s caravan and gets a shotgun full of rock salt; I laughed when was blown 20 meters away. Then punching her way out of the coffin she was buried alive in. Even the whole Pai Mei sequence where she learnt that shit.

Goodness me, when she chopped up Gogo Yubari and the Crazy 88 in that restaurant with the crazy Japanese girl rock band, then told Sophie not to leave. And the whole garden fight with Oren? Class.

The Bruce Lee suit. The music, especially “Bang bang, my baby shot me down”. When she used the Five-Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique on Bill, and he exclaimed (like all defeated kung-fu movie villains before him) “The Five-Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique!”. And my dude, Haturo Hanzo!

There’s a lot to love, but one scene has always had particular significance for me because I play it out almost every single morning.

To put this in context, I’m working on getting something done, so I only managed to get to bed at 3 am. The late bedtime was partly because of a massive power outage that began with the rain and had me, like my girl Tweet once sang, smoking cigarettes at night.

Anyway, so I sleep at 0300 hours, and awoke at 0630. This was not voluntary, as I planned to kay-oh until at least eight. I awoke an hour and a half before alarm because I really needed to piss.

Now remember that scene when Black Mamba has woken from her coma, and is in the back of Buck’s Pussy Wagon? And she’s staring at her feet willing herself to get up and get moving, because her legs have atrophied and she can’t walk?

And she’s staring at her feet and repeatedly saying “Wiggle your big toe”.

That’s me, when I’m snug in bed and I’m dying for a pee but I can’t make myself get up and go.

This morning, it took me twenty minutes.

It usually takes an hour.

NB: If you thought this’d be about politics, sorry to disappoint you. I couldn’t give two shakes of an octogenarian’s cock about the way ZANU politics are being doctored.

J Lo, Apparently, Has Got A Big Booty

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So I woke up at four in the morning, as I usually do.

As is the norm, I checked for emails, then flipped open my twitter and newspapers. There was The Herald up to its usual bullshit, trying to shoehorn MPs into a scandal of their own making. Just another day in Zimbabwe, then.

But hark! What clarion call doth the magical intertubes ring out? Jennifer Lopez has a new music video? Featuring Iggy Azalea, O She of the Plastic Cakes (well, the other one)? And it is titled “Booty“?

Well, for research purposes, I obviously had to head over to the YooToob and check it out for myself. And this is what I saw.

Actually, instead of telling you what this video is, I’ll start by telling you what it’s not.

This is not piña coladas and getting caught in the rain. There are no planes, trains and automobiles. This video does not have J Lo in a drop-top, hair streaming behind her, rolling down a palm-lined Miami boulevard on a summer’s day.

There is no night-time shot cruising down the Strip, Vegas lights brightly mirrored on a glossy black SUV. This video has no helicopter shots of a speedboat, which kinda surprised me for a Hype Williams show. There isn’t even a single swimming pool in sight.

There is no black limo or Rolls Royce pulling up to the obligatory private jet, a music video staple now appropriated by Nigerian “artists” in particular, and Africans in general.

There isn’t even a group dancing shot, preferably on a busy street or in a traffic jam; I know, right? A J Lo video with no “break it down” and a group jive?

There is no alcohol of any kind, or an indication that these two classy ladies are anywhere near a nightclub populated by homogeneously attractive, racially diverse people all dancing like everyone can’t wait to rip everyone else’s (minimal) clothing off.

No, this is definitely not that.

This is a visibly ageing J Lo trying very hard to prove how fit she still is. It is three minutes of Jennifer flexing and stretching, stretching and flexing. This is ol’ mami doing struggle-twerks to a strange, up-tempo beat that doesn’t know if it’s EDM or salsa-infused reggae.

This is Iggy Azalea (not her real name), who is six foot of vanilla hailing from deepest, whitest Mullumbimby in New South Wales *, Australia, shaking her obviously fake struggle cakes, and mouthing off in what I can only surmise to be a Kim Jones-marries-Misdemeanour-and-raises-an-orphan-in-Atlanta patois. While violently, meaninglessly jerking her waist around and trying to look “sexy”.

This video kind of had an aspirational “Beautiful Liar” quality to it, including a Shakira-doing-the-snake backshot which (obviously) failed miserably.

In conclusion, for a song named booty, it kinda sticks to the overarching theme. Booty by the window, booty by the wall. Want some booty under a shower? There you go. Here’s some bonus oil-covered booty (inevitably).

J Lo dance break! A pause, a pose, a (rather unnecessary and confusing) cigarette and now we have floor booty.

So. The video called booty is about, you guessed it, asses. Asses shaking. Vigorously. And that’s about it, really.

What a struggle masterpiece.

 

Mullumbimby has also produced a beatboxer, which kind of makes you wonder what the local kids get up to down there.

Swazi Princess Sikhanyiso Sings And Raps For Daddy

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Ladies and gentlefolk, meet Her Royal Highness Princess Sikhanyiso Dhlamini of Swaziland.

The princess, nicknamed “Pashu” in the mountain kingdom (don’t ask why, no fucking clue), has a music video.

In this song, titled “Hail Your Majesty”, the princess heaps copious amounts of shit praise upon her daddy, King Mswati III.

Highlights include “The splendour of your touch is magical ...” – I know, I’m uncomfortable too, but I don’t really wanna know!

But my favourite, favouritest part comes when she starts rapping (yes, she raps) at the 2’20 mark.

The time has come and the time is now, for King Mswati’s dreams to manifest within …” – again, oddly discomfiting.

He was just a young prince when he turned eighteen, who coulda known that he would become King?

Well, let’s see. You, me, the passing postman, that homeless dude over there, EVERYfuckingBODY knew that he would become king.

And then she has a little bit of a shuffle, kick and dance! Best. Music. Video. Ever.

I tell you, the internet is a virtual goldmine of wonderful things, and for me, this is definitely today’s Thing.

Wow. These fucking people, eh?

Afrika!

Greatest Song of All Time of the Day

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Now, it’s never happened that a new song has become an instant G.O.A.T. here. Until now.

This is Vakirai, a former schoolmate (and band-mate, but that’s a past life), performing his debut single. It’s great to see one of my brothers keeping the flame lit over in the United States, and look forward to his homecoming, especially if he’s bring music like this home.

The song is called Oliver, in dedication to the great Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi.

Standing on its own, and as the debut single off a warm, guitar-infused Afro-pop album, this new release has immediately entered my Favourites playlist.

Have a listen, and tell me what you think in the comments.

I love it.

SoundCloud | Facebook | Youtube

Not Yet Uhuru

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Today marks the 30th anniversary of Zimbabwe’s independence from colonial rule.

Today we celebrate casting away the yoke of the hated settler, allowing us to move towards our African dream of self-determination and equal opportunity for the black peoples of Zimbabwe.

Today I will braai, and drink whisky, knowing that I, with my opinions and libertarian sentiments and big mouth, am hated by the very state our heroes fought to create.

Today I remember that because of my ideas and opinions I have been legislated against, my lips shackled in the very bonds the settler masters tried to bind our celebrated heroes with.

Today, as usual, I feel a little less free than yesterday.

Today is not MY Independence Day.

Freedom: definitely NOT a festering pile of shyte

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Today, Zimbabweans worldwide “celebrate” their 27th year of independence from settler rule. Yes kids, it’s been a whole 27 years since we threw off the shackles of colonialism, and let us not forget our freedom was not granted, but taken after a long and protracted struggle, in which many of our gallant sons and daughters gave their lives to return our land to its rightful owners.

I should be in advertising.

Anyway, I have definitely been caught up in the patriotic fervour, and am looking forward to celebrating our Independence haaard! Not that a time like this would be used for reflection, self-analysis and (God forbid) debate on our nation’s status and identity over a quarter-century after we “threw off” the proverbial shackles.

Definitely not a time to be questioning ourselves, and our Honourable Members, where things might be going wrong and what we can do to fix them before we…oops, almost overstepped my “freedoms” there.

Yes, we shall celebrate, and those of us still blessed to be living here at home (the true sons and daughters of the proverbial soil) shall enjoy it! I for one definitely won’t be saying shit like this;

I have great respect for the heroes who died for our country – it’s the ones who survived that I have a problem with.

Oh no, lest I be wrongly accused of being un-patriotic and a Blairite agent of neo-imperialistic Western-backed hegemony. Hegemony sounds infectious (but of course Pari can treat it).

So I shall definitely celebrate, and celebrate hard. Hunger, uhm, I mean FAILURE is not an option, so I’ll bask in the glory of our hard-won independence.

Woohoo, freedom!

Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker.Bruce Willis, Die Hard Something-or-other