WeUtonga tears into NACZ over Nama

HARARE - Edith “WeUtonga” Katiji has hit out at the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ) for failing to come up with clear criteria governing the selection of National Arts Merit Award (Nama) winners.

The famous bassist and vocalist, who along with Selmor Mtukudzi controversially lost the National Arts Merit Award (Nama) Outstanding Female Musician Award  to Olivia Charamba, believes Nacz is frustrating upcoming musicians.

“In the year under review both Selmor and I contributed immensely to our industry and my worry now is if these monitors from NACZ are unaware of the works that we have done, then that’s so disappointing and discouraging for our young upcoming female musicians,” said WeUtonga in a Facebook post that she later confirmed in a telephone interview.

WeUtonga is convinced that Olivia Charamba, who last recorded in 2009, did not deserve to win regardless of the criteria used.

“The year under review saw me perform not only in Harare, but around the country too. I also performed in East Africa twice, in Uganda and Kenya.

“The fundraising shows  for my son's heart surgery even happened in my absence while I raised the country’s flag in other countries. Yes my son was not well but that did not stop me from working.

“I even raised the flag in India, where they heard Zimbabwean music for the first time and appreciated it. Had the war in Mali not happened I was scheduled to be the first musician from Zimbabwe to perform at the Festival AU Desert. Did any of the Nama monitors bother to check this, I wonder?”

Selmor Mtukudzi, who was also vying for the same award, refused to be drawn into the controversy when the Daily News contacted her.

“I never entered in the Outstanding Female Musician category but I applied for the Outstanding Song Category and my song failed to qualify for the best song,” said Selmor.

“What happened is a lesson to me to work harder in the future. I cannot say whether it was fair or not because Nacz has a board of qualified monitors and I am convinced that they performed their job according to their experience,” she said.

Renowned arts critic Cont Mhlanga concurred with Weutonga’s call for Nacz to come up with clear selection criteria.

“We do not know how they select the winners. If you check you will see that there are no credible adjudicators on the panel meaning that the whole selection process is rotten,” he said.

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