SADLY, 2023 will go down in the history as a tragic year for the arts, particularly music.
The general elections held on 23 and 24 August were roundly condemned as neither free, fair nor credible.
What was worse, musicians also joined the gravy train, with a number of them becoming members of the infamous Zanu PF-affiliated group Artistes for ED. Theirs was to rally support for the incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Holy Ten, Enzo Ishall, Ricky Fire, Poptain, DJ Fantan, Levels, Rhibe and Kiky BadAzz were all behind the re-election of President Mnangagwa. The campaign trail brought with it a windfall to the artistes who swayed the youth vote towards Zanu PF.
Just like Mabvuku MP Pedzai “Scott” Sakupwanya who flew US boxing legend Floyd Mayweather into Harare as part of his campaign trail, artistes became actively involved in politics. And as fate would have it, Zimbabwe lost renowned mbira musician Ambuya Stella Chiweshe. Below we look at 2023 in retrospect.
Zimbabwean-born and Germany-based mbira player Ambuya Stella Chiweshe died on 20 January 2023 aged 77.
The iconic Ambuya Chiweshe succumbed to brain tumour in Harare and was laid to rest in Nekati Village under Chief Masembura, some 40 kilometres from Bindura.
Lovingly called Ambuya Chiweshe not because she was a spirit medium but because she lived by her traditional customs and values, she was accorded a state-assisted funeral by President Mnangagwa.
Despite Nyaradzo funeral parlour providing an expensive casket that carried her body to Nekati village, her body was removed from the casket and wrapped in a reed mat (rukukwe) and cloth before being lowered into the grave.
The family said this was done in accordance with her desire to easily be connected with her ancestral spirits.
Zimbabweans were again plunged into mourning following the death of Afropop singer Garry Mapanzure who was killed in a car accident in his hometown of Masvingo. Garry, (25) died from serious injuries sustained during a head-on collision on the Beitbridge-Masvingo highway on 13 October.
Mapanzure’s death brought the country’s healthcare system into the spotlight, with the family criticising the government for a poor health delivery system. In their view, Garry, who reportedly waited 12 hours for an ambulance to arrive, would have survived had the healthcare system been stable.
Zimbabwean renowned sculptor Dominic Benhura was featured on Good Morning Cincinnati, a US television show hosted by Sheila Gray.
Benhura staged a month-long exhibition of hi is latest sculptures at Eden Park, Krohn Conservatory.
On the show Benhura said his sculptures could relate to people across the world because art was a universal language.
And the subjects of his sculptures are common among people from different backgrounds and influences.
Theatre actor Jasen Mphepo and his gifted cast have kept generations of Zimbabwean audiences engaged and glued to the set for many years.
Mphepo runs the “Little Theatre”, a stone’s throw away from central Harare. Yep, it is little in name, but not so tiny in the quality of the productions stemming from this hidden hub on Enterprise Road.
“Half Empty Half Full”, a yesteryear play, had a short run from 18 to 20 May 2023.
If you have watched Al Jazeera’s explosive documentary on Zimbabwe, titled Gold Mafia, you would certainly want to watch what they dished out on Enterprise . . . oops . . . Mnangagwa Road!
Oh well, needless to add that the President of the country is also heavily implicated in the Gold Mafia blockbuster.
Starring seasoned actor Teddy Mangawa and Tafadzwa Hananda, the two-man hander is still as relevant now as it was a decade ago.
South Africa-based Zimbabwean lead guitarist virtuoso Louis Mhlanga performed at the launch of the Jazz & Soul Festival at Sherwood Gold Club.
The inaugural three-day festival was held on 26 May until 28 May 2023, with performances by Victor Kunonga, Diana Samkange, Black Site, WaChari from Mutare, Jeys Marabini from Bulawayo, Selmor Mtukudzi, Benari Note, Xtra Mile, IYF-Koreans and Mbeu and the Mhodzi Tribe.
Rapper Holy Ten stirred a hornet’s nest after throwing tantrums at his erstwhile collaborator Winky D.
Social media users unfollowed him in their thousands on Instagram, sending a clear message to the Delilah singer that he was not invincible.
The Pressure hitmaker aka Mujaya had a fallout with Winky D following the release of their collaboration simply titled Ibotso off the politically charged album, Eureka Eureka. Ibotso denounces corruption by government officials and the political elites. The problem started after Holy Ten announced his support for Zanu PF after which he was gifted with a Range Rover Sport by President Mnangagwa’s sons.
American rapper Rick Ross performed in Zimbabwe for the first time on 18 November at the Harare International Conference Centre.
South Africa’s chart topper Nasty C led a coterie of young Zimbabwean rappers as curtain raisers for Rick Ross.
Rozay, as he is popularly known, was brought to Zimbabwe courtesy of Roar Entertainment, a music promotions company linked to Zanu PF gold baron Sakupwanya. The concert was held on 17 November 2023, a day critics say was meant to celebrate the coup which toppled President Mugabe.
Retired American boxing legend Floyd Mayweather arrived in Harare at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport to a hero’s welcome.
Clad in a camo outfit, black T-shirt and a matching flat base cap flipped sideways, The Money Man arrived aboard his private jet emblazoned with his surname Mayweather.
He would also hand over a boxing ring in Mabvuku today where Zanu PF’s Sakupwanya, his host, was vying for a parliamentary seat.
UB40, the popular English reggae and pop band, is billed to perform in Zimbabwe on 25 May at Old Hararians Sports Club.
The Harare concert coincided with the Africa Day celebrations. However, controversy surrounded the concert after the other members of the original UB40 issued a statement denouncing the show, saying it was in fact Ali Campbell and not the real UB40 who came to Harare