Documentary propels Zimdancehall to global stage

HARARE - American photojournalist Juan Gomez teamed up with Jibilika Dance Festival founder Plot Mhako to create a documentary on Zimdancehall musicians.

The trailblazing documentary traces the music journeys of artistes who include Winky D, DJ Fantan, Levels, Ras Caleb and Rebel Sharpshooter.

Mhako believes the documentary will propel Zimdancehall to new heights.

“The documentary is a major breakthrough for Zimdancehall. It is featured on Mixologi, a global platform and has been shared on multiple sites and social media,” said the Jibilika boss.

Mhako’s partner on the project — Gomez — explained why he decided to create a Zimdancehall documentary.

  “I have done a lot of research on African music,  mostly based in West Africa. When I arrived in Zimbabwe last year, I noticed that there was a strong connection between Jamaican dancehall and Zimbabwe urban music. I found Zimdancehall as an intriguing genre and thought it deserved some closer analysis,” he said.

The American photojournalist added that he is determined to expose the rest of the world to African music.

“With the rise of Nigerian pop music, the world is slowly getting ready to embrace a new generation of urban African music.

“However, very little attention is paid to many of the different genres outside of West Africa. My hope was to somewhat remedy that situation with the short piece we did.

“The last time I checked, we had received 30 000 views in the first three days, that doesn’t include the amount of sharing on Facebook as well. So I would say the story was a success in bringing attention to this genre,” Gomez said.

The American wants to see local musicians using social media to get the world’s attention on their music.

“Well, I think that the organisation hosting the piece — Mixologi.com — is really excited and wants to create a dialogue between viewers in Zimbabwe/southern Africa and viewers here in the United States.

“Their goal is to expand their viewership by supplying relevant content to viewers abroad.

“However, I think that the conversation has to go both ways. Therefore, it would take artistes and fans in Zimbabwe to utilise the social media platforms at their disposal to continue spreading the word about this genre,” he added.

Gomez also hinted that Zimbabweans should be inspired by the way Ghanaians have made the “Azonto” phenomenon global.

“There should be a conversation between Zimbabweans at home and those in the Diaspora. Who could better tell the story of Zimdancehall than the Zimbabweans themselves?"

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