The 2021 edition of the National Arts Merit Awards (NAMA) have come and gone.
This year’s awards were held as NAMA legends @40 Awards, designed to honour 40 living legends that played a pivotal role in the different fields of the country’s art and culture space in the past for decades.
It was run under the theme ‘Our Legacy Our Pride’.
The NAMAs have just turned 20 years.
Napoleon Nyanhi, the executive director at NAMA and his team appears to be doing a good job after the baton was passed on last year to them by the Mighty Movies team who too did very well.
I did enjoy the NAMA.
But, I felt, there were a few legends missing out from the list. The absence of a category for Club Disc Jockeys (DJ) at the NAMAs “hit me’I have been thinking about it for a while now.
The big question is, does the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, and the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ), know that they also represent this industry?
If so, what are they doing for the DJs?
If not, then, which ministry represents this industry? And what have they been doing for them?
“I was watching the awards and it hit me. Why do we not have such a category?” Coleen Danai Goredema aka DJ Naida told Business Times.
She added: “DJs actually pay licensing fees to NACZ so that we play the music. There was a time when the NACZ was actually threatening to arrest Club DJs.”
DJ Naida said Club DJing was an art, but most people think that it’s something anyone can do.
“Most times we add our own artistry to the music pieces to make them more appealing to revellers – and that is an art,” she said.
DJ Naida said a few corporates like Delta and Econet have been very supportive to Club DJs.
After chatting to DJ Naida I realised that the biggest question here was whether artistic pretensions among the DJ world are misplaced.
According to DJ Krimz: “DJing is an art and it plays a part in giving the people new music…most songs are played first in clubs, DJ’s like JahB, also played a part in bringing local music to the forefront.”
“Ndavamboti onawo”, DJ Krimz appealed to the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation.
Over the years though there have been many times I have discovered a local song and introduced it to radio after having heard it in the club first.
Look at the work that the Judgement Yard duo put in to make locals embrace Zim dancehall.
“The input we have put into the industry. The work we did in placing artists where they are today, it cannot be ignored or hushed aside. Zim dancehall wasn’t recognised or celebrated in certain circles” DJ Flava said
“I used to drive from studio to studio from Dzivaresekwa to Warren Park, just for the love of the game I guess.”
Can playing other people’s art pieces to entertain be called art? How is it an art, and how is it different to just switching on the radio?
“Of course, it’s an art. There is a lot of creativity and originality that is required even though it involves working with other artists’ pieces,” Exodus Makumbe aka The Boss DJ told Business Times.
He added: “The world is actually slowly moving away from the traditional live band set up. Live bands are becoming smaller as they incorporate DJs, what is known as high breed entertainment.”
Asked if he was willing to sponsor a category for Club DJ, he said he had the capacity and would be honoured to do so as chairman of Exodus and Company (Pvt) Ltd.
Kennedy Masawi aka DJ Kaycee aka Gigmaster or the Godfather, who has been creating some waves since 1989, believes the establishment of the DJayz Association of Zimbabwe (DAZ) is a game changer in getting the industry the attention it needed.
The association has over 400 members.
“There is a need for unity in the industry, and an understanding of the role of the association itself,” he said.
NACZ director, Nicholas Moyo, said: “The sector defines itself. It’s making progress with the creation of the association but there is still a lot that needs to be done. I was at the launch of the association, but there’s still a need for the definition of the ‘art’.
Moyo added: “My office is open. The vision is to industrialise the entire arts industry and recognise the creative artists- the players, the value chain and activate it.”
It appears like the engine is turning and we will soon see a change.
With so many living legends in the DJing sector and some already passed on without receiving the recognition they deserved like the late Jadiel Masimba aka Jaddie Jam (just mentioning one), the hope is that one day they will be remembered and celebrated annually like all other arts sectors.