A Zimbabwean arts industry where everybody needs to support each other

Oliver Mutukudzi was the personification of “no one is better than all of us.” He believed in community.

 

By Royce Mapaike
There is a gap in the arts sector. A serious gap between the young generation and the old. There is a communication gap. Less talk and more accusations and suspicions. An age gap huge enough to sink a train. There is also a knowledge and skills gap between the two.

And sadder is the obvious uneasy, and rather strained, relationship between the old and the young. There is too much name calling. Too much bad blood.

The old calling the young too ambitious, untalented and shallow. The young calling the old unimaginative, backward, boxed or too closed, enemies of progress and new ideas bent on stalling the development of the sector.

The old believe the young should sit in the terraces a bit, watch how things are done and learn the ropes properly.

On the other hand the young are very impatient and very emotional. They call the old bitter, archaic and want them to step aside so they can show them how things are done.

In this cold war the gap keeps growing, and getting toxic every year. And each year so many opportunities and great creative ideas are swallowed by the gap and never to come back again.

Reflecting on Tuku’s legacy we could not help but marvel at how he was so different. Tuku could walk with anyone, young and old. He worked with anyone too, young and old.
The number of his collaborations with different artistes is testimony to that. So is the number of young artistes he encouraged or helped one way or another. Tuku was the best example of how we should all live and work within the sector.
He believed in togetherness, working in harmony. He was the personification of “no one is better than all of us.” He believed in community.
The humbleness of fellow senior musicians at the funeral of Oliver Mutukudzi
At Tuku’s farewell concert both young and old shared the stage. There was no gap. The tension was less. The old and young stood together and bid their hero farewell.
It was humbling to see the likes of Thomas Mapfumo, Aleck Macheso, Bob Nyabinde and other ‘‘madalas” mourning Tuku.
Their being there to many was a story of survival, through their art. They reminded the young that it’s possible to make a living from your talent if you are committed and resilient.

Let’s not forget Thomas Mapfumo and Tuku started singing in the late 70s. Tuku died still active — actually he was one of the most consistent musician of our time.

The hope is he didn’t go away with his secrets — especially on how to be productive and stay relevant for over 40 years in the arts!

To be honest fighting each other won’t work for the sector. It will only make those good at fighting prosper. And those good at fighting should actually try professional boxing (there are opportunities there) and not art.
 The arts are collaborative by their nature. The arts are about partnerships, about team work. It is only when we realise that each one of us, the old and the young, has a role to play in building this sector that we will go forward.

As individuals we will not achieve much. The future of the sector is in both generations, old and young, working together.

Mapaike is with Exquisite Entertainment. Send your feedback to rmapaike@gmail.com or whatsapp 084 224 3475

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