Constance van Niekerk, Vereeniging
Bindura, in Mashonaland Central Province, is a small mining town some 88km north-east of Harare the capital city of Zimbabwe.
This was originally chief Chipindura’s settlement and when the whites came they named it “Kimberly Reefs” because they could not pronounce “Chipindura”, calling him “Bindura”. In 1913 the town assumed the name: Bindura. It is at the epicentre of Trojan Nickel Mine, Freda Rebecca Mine and Ran Mine, whose activities became the economic engine providing sustenance to Bindura and Mashonaland Central Province.
On the 13th of April 2013 all Entertainment and Arts roads virtually led to Bindura for the 3rd Edition of Bindura Arts Festival, at Chipadze Stadium. The festival was organised under the theme: Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV/Aids.
The first edition of the Arts festival was held in 2011 at the Coach House Inn, where the celebrated entertainer: Alick Macheso received “The Golden Award“for his steadfast, torch-bearing contribution to putting this town of Bindura and Mashonaland Central Province on the Zimbabwe Entertainment and Arts map.
The Chairperson of the Bindura Arts Festival and Founder of the Bindura Arts Festival Trust, Umtali Saidi explained that, “We bring in the finest and the biggest performers in Zimbabwe to perform on stage with the local artists, something they can’t do on their own. When many people or stack holders come to see the big artists, they will also see the up and coming artists.”
Comedian-cum-musician Freddy Manjalima popularly known as “Kapfupi” was the first performer, at this year’s festival, followed by upcoming reggae artist Mr Nice Time then a string of other performers came on stage including the heavyweights Sulumani Chimbetu and Winky D.
Umtali Saidi said “Over 20 upcoming groups got the platform to showcase their artistic abilities unveiling amazing talent in Virimayi Nhedenga and his Dziva reMbira Crew.”
The posters advertising the festival were eye-catching and very colourful. Unfortunately, however; they were misleading as they featured artists who may not to have been contracted to perform there, such as the “Zima” and “Nama” award winning duo of Africa Revenge of the 2004 famous song “Wanga”. This group disbanded in 2005 and yet eight years down the line, they appear on a poster for a show in Bindura. Could this have been a publicity stunt misleading people into thinking that this Qhaya music group was back? Obviously, organisers of such a huge annual event must have known about the band’s eight year disbandment. Suppose they did not know, why would the organisers put a band’s name on their line-up without first confirming with the band?
In defence, Saidi retorted, “We never had Africa Revenge in our plans at all, until Maizon (Tazvitya) suggested they were part of him (his act) and they are helping him in his career. We had three big names to sell our show and that was it. The rest were up and coming”
However, Maizon Tazvitya, an upcoming jazz artist who recently moved to Bindura from Hwange is another artist on the poster who did not perform.
Maizon, a new kid on the block, really needed this opportunity for exposure and to market himself. For months, he prepared for this show and was looking forward to performing on such a prestigious platform. Sharing the stage with renowned artists, Sulu and Winky D would have done a lot for his career. This was the break he needed; after all, the festival is “to give upcoming artists a chance to showcase their artistic skills”.
Unfortunately, the day before the festival, Saidi called Maizon, changing the agreed fee. “Maizon was asking far too much for his worth.” was Saidi’s explanation.
Maizon is an unknown artist, he could have indeed been asking for too much money. However, did Saidi only realise that the fee was too much a day before the event? When the posters were made and Maizon’s face was put there, had they not had an agreement? All these questions are yet to be answered as Saidi craftily eluded them.
When asked for a comment, all Maizon said was, “I think the organisers should try to accept new people as their own and do it for the love of art.”
Sometime during the festival, there were introductions of political party parliamentary candidates.
One of the artists who performed at the festival said, “Look, it was a good idea but what they need to do next time is to hire a PA system that meets the standards of such festivals of that magnitudes and also stick away from using events like that as political rallies. Some of us artists do not want to be associated with any political party.”
On being questioned, one Bindura political party official responded that the event was funded by
their party, so they were allowed to introduce their candidates.
“I’m very happy to have coordinated an annual mega event that attracted the finest and the best in Zimbabwe to perform on stage with local artists in Bindura and I hope they got the opportunity for professional development and I’m glad I made Bindura a significant performing arts town, ensuring the town won’t be left out in the development of arts and we made a forum were Bindura artists and around Zimbabwe received visibility and acknowledgement,” said a satisfied Saidi.
The Bindura Arts Festival is a superb event which needs adequate planning and enough sponsorship. Organisers of such an elite event should also be knowledgeable and committed to the development of art in the province. After all has been said and done hats off to the organisers for coming up with such an excellent idea, despite all the hitches and glitches the objective of putting Bindura on the map was indeed achieved