HARARE - The National Merit Awards (Nama) 2016 was quite a spectacle happening on the eve of Valentine’s Day and what a coincidence that the two men ruling the roast on the night, Jah Prayzah and Winky D came donning red — the colour of love.
Winky D, who won the People’s Choice Award and song of the Year Award for his hit song Disappear, wore a complete red suit complemented by a red hat while Jah Prayzah, who won the Outstanding Male Musician and Outstanding Album, wore a red “army” jacket, red hat and black trousers.
There is no doubt that this was their year although they are others who believe Killer T, who was nominated in three award categories, lost out unfairly.
But it is always like that; life will never be fair!
With the presentation being beamed throughout the country by the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation TV, I would say this year’s event was packaged well save for the rather dull presentation by the Masters of Ceremonies (MCs) who failed to live up to expectations and keep the audience alive.
The MCs killed the sparkle as their jokes were dry and uninspiring.
It was indeed one of the worst performances I have seen in recent years.
Next year, the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (Nacz), as custodians of the gala, should be advised to choose their MCs wisely because these guys hold and drive the show.
The council should desist from just picking anyone from radio to be MCs “because they are popular on air”.
Being popular on radio where only the voice is being aired is different from standing in front of a packed theatre and delivering jokes that are entertaining and messages that are educative.
Also there was something wrong with the microphones on the podium because most of the recipients and even the presenters were so tall they had to bend down to reach them.
Towering singers like Jah Prayzah and Tendai Manatsa were the most affected as they had to really bend down.
One of the Nama 2016 colourful highlights was the inclusion of guest presenters, celebrated showbiz fathers and their sons who presented the award trophies.
Among the colourful list of guest presenters were musicians Mechanic Manyeruke and son Guspy Warrior. Zexie Manatsa and musician son Tendai, Mono Mukundu and musician son Takunda, Willon Tight and musician son Gary, Bob Nyabinde and musician son Aggabu; playwright Stephen Chifunyise and musician son David, Actor Daves Guzha and son Tendai.
There were also lighter moments when comedian Doc Vikela tore into superstar musician Oliver Mtukudzi whom he described as “too dark”.
After Nama 2016 presentation I talked to a number of artists to hear their views also on the gala’s main highlights and what they think should be improved.
Arts administrator and manager for Mokoomba, Marcus Gora says his special mention goes to Killer T whose album Ngoma Ndaimba did very well throughout 2015 but did not win.
Gora believes there was a lot a of work put into the Nama awards and “I would like to congratulate the Nacz, partners, winners, nominees for this improved and successful edition in 2016 and the whole creative community in Zimbabwe for their commitment and hard work in a difficult operating environment.
“There will always be a need to improve and also to engage and consult widely so the awards continue to develop.
“There is always room to improve when it comes to presentation, stage design, a tight running sheet for the event which makes it shorter and more entertaining.
“The adjudication process should be more research and monitoring based. The awards should also get to a point where the winning prizes are more lucrative in monetary and career advancing value.”
Singer Goodchild said it was painful going through the 2016 winners list and not seeing Killer T!
“We all thought he outdid himself and should have picked something either Album of the Year or People’s Choice Award or even Song of the year. One of those three awards is his.
“But not easily so though because Winky D also deserved his Peoples’ Choice award as he was voted for by the people and Jah Prayzah also made noise with his Jerusalem album whose launch at the HICC had the current sitting vice president as the guest of honour!
All those ingredients definitely make his album stand out — he put in work and managed to chuff the adjudicators.”
Bassist Edith WeUtonga Katiji is of the opinion that the Nacz did well with the presentation.
“You could see that there was a thought-out concept. Some things might not have gone according to plan but it was thought-out.
“The Outstanding Female Musician award was a tight contest and for me any of the three ladies could have won it and I’m glad with the result. Tariro, Hope and Selmor deserved to be on that list.”
Guitarist Mono “Gwenyagitare” Mukundu believes this year was the best Nama so far.
“The production was on-point, no technical glitches as usual and like any awards show in the world controversy will always be there on the winners. We all know the Kanye West stories where he always feels someone else should have won, that’s common but otherwise it’s a great improvement.
Musician Filbert Marova says Nama should be commended for a job well done again this year although he has one problem with their nomination process.
“Why should artists be made to submit their work for nomination? Shouldn’t there be a committee of arts critics or professionals tasked with the selection of deserving art works for nominations like how they used to do it for Zima?
“It is possible that some artistic work deserving recognition may not be considered because not all artists submit their work and so in the end only submitted projects get nominated for the awards and since there has to be a winner, someone wins without necessarily being the best.”