The death of award winning Bulawayo artist, Calvin has generated much debate regarding the marginalization of Ndebele musicians in Zimbabwe.
On one side, local groups feel that Ndebele musicians are not being played on national radio, resulting in them living in poverty. They say Shona musicians are getting airplay and support and are always booked for shows.
On the other hand, Ndebele musicians have to move out of Bulawayo if they want to make a name.
Mthwakazi, a local group, demonstrated at Calvin ‘s funeral with a large poster written Justice For Cal_vin Nhliziyo.
Many Zimbabweans on social media have jumped onto the debate, with opinion Sharply divided.
Popular activist, Vimbainashe Musvaburi, supported the view that Bulawayo artists are living in poverty and wrote on Facebook:
In response, a Facebook user called Joseph GP wrote:
Reading the comments on here it seems most insinuate that shonas are against ndebeles and therefore giving the theory that Cal Vin wasnt as successful because the shonas failed him & presumably the progress of matebeleland artists is being stifled by mashonas. Hmmm i hv a bit of a problem with that.
First off am not saying there isnt tribalism. I am born & bred in bulawayo and love bulawayo so much. i will here share my observations & views:
1). Locals in Bulawayo are obviosuly into various demographics. music in terms of trends and popularity is mainly driven by the young demographic.
2). this young demographic in bulawayo love consuming SA music. I am still yet to meet a 15 year old searching to know what local artists play. U find them in public carrying those portable sound systems playing nothing other than SA house music.
3). Not only do they love SA music but they hv adopted SA dress code and language. I am one of the few who has resisted adopting SA zulu phrases as I think our ndebele version is awesome. But ey the young generation doesnt care about that. Its a matter of prestige with them & frankly they dont like anything with the tag “made in zimbabwe”
4). People in Bulawayo r generally slow & lack initiativeness myself included. I had to admit that first & worked very hard to get out of that bubble. Still even today i hv noticed that if i dont become vigilant I find myself slipping into docileness. But oops many wont admit that and will sadly take this 4th point as an insult.
5). there has been an on-going feud between Bulawayo artists & Bulawayo promoters dating as far back as 2010. Interesting to note that the feud has nothing to do with someone being shona or ndebele. In cases I hv researched on its ndebele artists vs ndebele promoters. Read this article where local artists complained about local promoters.
Pay particular attention to the arrogance of the promoter, Babongile Sikhonjwa. https://www.chronicle.co.zw/promoters-not-facilitating-inter-collaborations-dj-cooperman/
6). In 2010 bulawayo promoter Omega Sibanda once said, “The problem with the artists we have is that they can not maintain standards…..I can’t take somebody to perform at an upmarket place and then the next day they go and ‘organise’ their own show at a rundown place”. Here is the full article link https://www.newsday.co.zw/2010/11/2010-11-19-bulawayo-musicians-promoters-trade-accusations/
7). Coming back to a lack of initiaveness I want to point out that sometimes local artists should not wait for the promoters. If promoters are not doing anything why not try to grab the bull by its horns & do something about it? Everyone in Bulawayo knows the comedians Mkhula.
Those guys r a perfect example of what u can achieve if u go out there and market yourself. They did quiet a lot by themselves and even in SA I hear they went there and rocked johannesburg. Instead of kumirira umwe munhu or ukumelela omunye umuntu to do things for u why cant u take advantage of the platforms we hv facebook, youtube go out there and be aggressive.
I also notice this is exactly what Cal Vin did. He worked hard for himself and am sure that lovely man would hv achieved way more had he continued to b alive. So to the local artists learn from people like Cal Vin, Mkhula, etc. They demonstrated a level of responsibility, initiativeness & continued to grow.
8). To those saying Cal Vin didnt achieve much I beg to differ. Honestly I didnt know about him until his death. When i did some research on him online I was surprised at the amazing work he had done. Truly from Bulawayo here in Luveve am impressed with what he achieved. May his soul rest in peace and may others learn from him.
9). Finally lets stop this attitude bantu bako bulawayo to always blame the other side for our lack of progress. It causes us to b blind to our own mistakes. Bulawayo we are a big family and on our own we can make it. We r big enough to fill our own stadiums & music halls to listen to our artists.
What is your take on the subject?