Namas must generate credibility, acceptance

HARARE - With February 18 set as the date for the 16th edition of the National Arts Merit Awards (Nama), the onus is now on the organisers to ensure that they put in place an event which will win the endorsement of all the stakeholders.

The Namas are Zimbabwe’s only multi-disciplinary awards and as such it is not surprising that they deservedly attract a lot of scrutiny.

It is therefore important for organisers to continually refine the entire Nama process from nomination right up to the adjudication.

We appreciate the fact that last year, the organisers addressed the absence of transparency around the adjudication panel and process, which had been a recurrent bone of contention since the inception of the awards.

At the 15th edition held at the 7 Arts Theatre in Harare, the Nama adjudication panel was made public.

The adjudication panel featured respectable and experienced arts personalities who included visual arts guru Saki Mafundikwa, film director Patience Tawengwa, music producers Peter Muparutsa and Clive Mono Mukundu, poet and editor Chirikure Chirikure and many more.

And as had been suggested by various stakeholders, the chairperson of the adjudication panel, film-maker Ben Mahaka, gave a report detailing how the various award-winners had been selected. Even though arts followers questioned the suitability of some winners who made it to the podium last year, making public the adjudication panel went a long way in enhancing the credibility of the awards.

We are also generally happy with the fact that the self-nomination, which we feel offers a leeway to undeserving artists to have their work considered, has been largely been discarded.

According to the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (Nacz), the 775 entries submitted this year were mostly from production houses, studios, music stables, galleries, arts organisations and associations as well as from monitors who were appointed by Nacz to identify excelling artists in the various categories.

Though the organisers should be lauded for taking on board suggestions from stakeholders and for ensuring the continuation of the awards despite the prevailing economic challenges, it is important to remind them that a lot still needs to be done to take the gongs to the next level.

The organisers must continue to go out of their way to address concerns raised by artists and critics.

Hopefully, the February 18 event will be held in a manner which will generate credibility and wider acceptance among arts stakeholders.

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