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Namas Draw Fire Over Jah Prayzah Gong

The awarding of Jah Prayzah’s song Ndini Ndamubata as the Outstanding Song of the year ahead of Soul Jah Love’s Pamamonya Ipapo at the Natio...

The awarding of Jah Prayzah’s song Ndini Ndamubata as the Outstanding Song of the year ahead of Soul Jah Love’s Pamamonya Ipapo at the National Arts Merit Awards (Nama) at Reps Theatre in Harare on Saturday night has triggered an uproar, dividing opinion on the showbiz scene.

Organised by National Arts Council of Zimbabwe, Nama awards have always been riddled with controversy, as their selection criteria has constantly come under scrutiny.

Some artistes and players in the sector have openly said they have lost confidence in the awards and will not participate again until the arts governing body is dissolved.

Critics said Jah Prayzah’s song did not deserve the award, with the audience, on the awards night, booing the dreadlocked musician in protest, as he walked to the podium to receive the gong, his third on the night.

Arts critic, Plot Mhako yesterday claimed the award-winners were predetermined and Nama had lost a moral mandate.
Namas Draw Fire Over Jah Prayzah Gong
“The nomination process had several glaring anomalies and the awarding process did not make things better,” he said.

“How can two entire categories have nominees and not qualify to get a winner?

“That’s a mockery and an insult to artists and that’s regrettable coming from National Arts Council.

“Then you have a song released five weeks before nomination closes, and not having made an impact beating a national anthem that played for the full year? It’s a farce.”

Sultry musician, Ammara Brown yesterday said the awards were “not based on facts, they are based on opinions”.

“A panel of anonymous judges observes your work and battles it out among themselves,” she said.

“My numbers don’t lie.

“Ammartia, you are the biggest Zimbabwean fan base under any female by far (sic).

“My debut album reached Number two on iTunes in its first week.

“While Akiliz has climbed Trace Africa charts, it hit half a million views in six weeks.”

Top filmmaker and Wenera executive producer, Eddie Ndhlovu said: “Awards should be about popularity and what the audience want.

“It is not about three or four people sitting in a room choosing who should win or lose.

“Let the people decide, who they want to win.’
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The failure to award winners in some categories, despite receiving nominations, has also been met with mixed feelings, with people saying it is impractical for organisers to come up with nominees and fail to honour winners.

Adjudicators panel chairperson, Ruby Magosvongwe defended Nama, saying the awards honour and uphold originality, creativity and excellence.

“Nama does not measure the popularity of the submitted works, but its quality, originality creativity and innovation,” she said.

“National Arts Merit Awards are about innovation, creativity and excellence, therefore, one needs to be outstanding as adjudged by the given criteria.”
On how they came up with nominees, but later fail to have winners for the Literary Arts Awards’ Outstanding First Creative Published Works and Outstanding Children’s Book categories, Magosvongwe said adjudicators noted some fundamental technical editing shortcomings.

“A high number of literary works are self-publications, these have numerous errors and unforgivable grammatical and technical mistakes, thus, affecting the ultimate products, as well as exposing writers’ glaring editing shortcomings,” she explained.

“Many artistes do not invest in hiring producers, as they prefer to produce and direct the filming of the video themselves and this compromises the quality of the submitted video products.”

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