Third force causing dancehall chaos?

HARARE - Recent events concerning the ill-fated Zimdancehall Sting 2014 event at the City Sports Centre have taken centre stage in the media yet there are some pieces still missing from the whole puzzling affair.

Different versions have been advanced as to what really happened and who caused the mayhem, but instead more questions have been raised than answers, perhaps indicative of the dearth of investigative journalism in the country. 

I feel there is more to this than meets the eye.

This is more than just Seh Calaz versus Soul Jah Love. It is beyond that.

I am not a fan of either of the artistes nor am I a fan of Zimdancehall genre as they call it. I am just a neutral observer.

Partson Chimbodza has borne most of the blame — and rightly so to some extent — but there is more to it.

After reading many versions of what transpired at the aborted November 8 show, I was left with several critical questions.

Did the two artistes actually trade blows? One account says they did while others say it was a near physical exchange.

What had caused fans to throw missiles onto the stage? Did the fans really fight each other? If so, what  really triggered the fight?

Or did the fans really fight  or was it in actual fact a stampede to get out of the venue away from the tear gas smoke which the police say was thrown from Bay 3.

As the melee ensued, one report says there was fighting and looting. What on earth was being looted in the City Sports Centre?

And the most pertinent question is: Who let loose the tear gas canister from Bay 3? Sadly, no report dug deep enough to answer all these questions.

A couple of months ago, Chimbodza had another show where military miscreants are said to have ran amok beating up revellers.

And not so long ago, we had “fights” by promoters themselves where one would organise a huge show only for a rival to set up an even bigger counter gig on the same day.

This eventually escalated into a war of words, threats and all, by the promoters and I suspect therein lies the origins of this problem.

This stinks to high heaven.

Back to Sting 2014. Who really threw the teargas canister in bay 3 or was it at Bay 3 The police said they were investigating who threw the canister.

Let us suppose it was the police who did, why do so in a very confined space like City Sports Centre where they risked causing a stampede and possibly loss of life?

Let us suppose again that it was not the police who threw the canister.

Who did then and where did they get it from and why did they throw it?

I repeat — this stinks to high heaven.

Sabotage cannot be ruled out or is my fertile imagination running away with me?

One source even said after the missile-throwing incidents, the crowd had actually calmed down, so why then use teargas when all seemed calm?

I fear this could be a subtle war between promoters. I recall another incident where one artiste alleges he was made to “diss” another promoter’s show live on air by a rival.

Simply put, we have promoters sprouting from nowhere hell-bent on making a quick buck, but all competing for a dwindling market under hard economic conditions which have eaten into consumers’ spending power.

Several columnists including Robert Zhuwao recently and rightly pointed out that the tenets of Rastafarianism or dancehall have no place for violence.

It is only wayward artistes who tarnish these institutions by creating drug cartels that maim and murder each other.

In light of this, our artistes as well are to blame for trying to bring this “badmanism” to this genre as Farai Shambare labels it

Our radio DJs have also played a huge part in fomenting animosity between artistes as well as advancing the notion of violence by playing and overplaying music with such vile content.

In some of their slots, the DJs pit artistes against each other and it seems the feelings and emotions derived thereof cascade onto the artistes and their followers.

Further to that, some of the DJs play substandard music recorded from backyard studios.

As we speak one can go and record anything get a DJ and make a deal with him to play it for them.

But enough about blame games and witch-hunting.

Suppose Seh Calaz and Soul Jah Love were to combine forces and do projects together like release a single, for charity or hold joint shows, how much crowd-pulling power would they have, combined?

I think it would be immense and both would benefit.

Simply put, they stand to benefit more together than as individuals and the same applies to all artistes.

Promoters as well could at least come up with a well-structured calendar of their intended shows where they give each other space and room.

Granted there is competition for the market, but only good organisational skills can move them forward otherwise they will continue to make losses because of poorly-organised or “sabotaged shows”.

However, all relevant stakeholders need to come together and that includes the National Arts Council, artistes themselves, promoters, music organisations such as Zimura, and the police among others  to map the way forward.

This genre (Zimdancehall) is part of the broader music industry which has shown great potential to create employment for our largely unemployed youths and it cannot be allowed to die just like that.

 

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