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A microphone for the masses
Owen Chirinda, Magamba Network
April 24, 2013

Zimbabwe is the only country in which art shivers in pain, the church is in business, the audiences evade tax and policy makers are half-hearted.

The Zimbabwean arts industry has, over the years, suffered greatly due to the economic challenges that the country faced. Until recently, what has happened is that artistic output has been on the decrease and quality has subsequently dropped as well. In the past decade national radio was dominated by foreign music, which influenced local art.

This prompted the then minister of information and publicity, Jonathan Moyo, to introduce the much contested and restrictive 75% local airplay. While national stations are guilty for peddling propaganda, this policy helped catapult some local urban musicians to fame and the urban grooves movement owes much to him.

In a blog by Qhoshi's KoQhoshi, local music and art has been described as lacking quality in the past, ZTV has been blamed for recycling old dramas and not focusing on the new stuff from all corners of Zimbabwe. Who is to blame and why?

Why this has been so is partly due to censorship and the fact that we are a people devoid of appreciation. Some DJs downplay other musicians' products, the audience doesn’t pay licenses and advertisers are not forthcoming. Until a time when authorities loosen their grip on the so called ‘independent media’ and Zimbabweans own up to the fact that they are not entirely American musicians or actors, that they have a responsibility to pay for what they view and uplift our own hip-hop, jazz and urban artistic trends, we will not have anything to take pride in. Promotional efforts, studio time, rich lyrics and echoes of poems will forever stay in the abyss.

Zimbabwe has songbirds, its poets tear horizons of lyricism, b-boys defy the instruments but creativity is muffled on national platforms. Who has to own up? The artist is toiling in the war zone, constantly learning and consuming foreign familiar concepts through the world-wide-web but commanders are shooting them in the foot. Writers scribble their way through infinite pages but words end up being multiplied in the photocopying machines of Harare.

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