Talent is cheaper than table salt in Zimbabwe – Stephen King had this written down all along

In Zimbabwe where artistes are underpaid, if not ‘‘never paid at all’’ King’s statement sounds more like a bitter truth


By Royce Mapaike

STEPHEN King, the legendary writer mostly known for his horror stories and films once said: “Talent is cheaper than table salt.”

Most artistes, with their false sense of importance, always take this statement at face value and think King was dissing them.

In Zimbabwe where artistes are underpaid, if not ‘‘never paid at all’’ King’s statement sounds more like a bitter truth — the bitter salt one has to take with his/ her food.

It is public knowledge how table salt is so cheap everywhere. Every household, even the poorest, has salt.

The same is also true for talent. Every household in this country has some kind of talent — music, acting, dance, writing and other art forms.

So if there is so much talent in the country why then is it that only a few artistes are successful? Are the successful ones God’s favourite creative children? Are they the lucky ones he chose to push above the rest? The ones destined to shine? Are these few artistes successful because they are super talented?

Or they have something in them or about them, something that gives them an advantage over everyone else? For example was the late Dr Oliver Mtukudzi extra-talented?

How did he manage to achieve such greatness and become an international icon? What should we credit his success to?

Exceptional talent or luck? What about Jah Prayzah? What has he got that others don’t? The same goes for Winky D – our very own Wallace Chirumiko. And why is Iyasa sought after? Why has the group continued to succeed, year in and year out? Are they a lucky group? What exactly is it that makes them stay at the top?

Putting in the hours

For those of us who are not successful the tendency has been to find good justification on why some are successful and we are not. We tend to quickly think the successful are either ‘‘lucky’’ or have rare talent. If they are lucky then we are not. So fate would rather have us poor and unappreciated.

Or rather the successful ones are just super talented and were destined to succeed from the moment they chose their career path. What we never want to believe is that the success we so much envy could just have simple been a result of hard work. Putting in the hours.

We never want to acknowledge hard work. This is more so because most of us never want to put in the hours. We want success without sweating for it.

One reason we have so much tension between the young and the old generation in the arts is this warped belief, rooted more in the young generation’s mind, that they should walk into something that someone else has sweated for and claim its success without dropping a single drop of sweat. Few of these young artistes want to start from zero and move up the ladder.

The Creator of the Universe

Instant success is what most dream about and want. When this success jumps over their head they get frustrated and start throwing bricks and threatening to break glasses and everything within the house. As a sector we need to talk more not about mere talent because everyone has some sort of talent in them.
We need to talk more about putting in the hours. Hard work. We need to sing and shout about the importance of hard work until it becomes a culture. Certainly one artiste that seemed to embody this spirit of hard work is the late Tuku. Over 60 albums is testimony enough.
Stephen King must have perfectly observed our tendency as artistes to ignore the importance of hard work and rightly observed  that “talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.”

The arts sector must preach hard work and nothing else. We must create a culture of putting in the hours before we can dream of any meaningful success.

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