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IT’S TIME WE SUPPORT OUR OWN- ARTISTS

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Mbabane – Aren’t we all glad the worst is over with the pandemic, yes we might not be out of the woods yet but, its certainly better than last year.

With the easing of the global pandemic, we have seen events slowly coming back to life. Our diary in the entertainment department now starts getting busy as early as Wednesday till Sunday. It’s safe to say the entertainment industry has come back in full force, like the return of big festivals like MTN Bushfire and Epic Gig recently.

Since I’ve had the honour of being in this chair, I’ve been privileged to attend most of the events, as I reintroduce myself into the industry.  My first show was one night with Zwile Bhembe, it was held in May at Happy Valley Hotel, what a performance! I must admit that I had no idea who he was, or his type of music, but boy was I pleasantly surprised and enjoyed myself.

Honour

I also had the honour of gracing Banele Dlamini’s live recording in June, such talent. What stood out for me mostly was seeing half the Gospel players come out to support one of their own, from Bhelakazi, Nondumiso Nhleko and others, this is what we need. Without revealing my age, this is my kind of set-up, but as my job would have it, I have to attend to all genres of music. It sparked a thought of why don’t we have more one-man shows by locals, without adding outside acts? Why don’t we have our very own locals headlining all major shows? Why do we have to bring in international acts at our events, are we saying we won’t have fun until we have outsiders?

How will the world respect our artists if we don’t support them fully all the way, to a standard that we hope to get from the South African acts? I spoke to Gospel sensation Nduduzo Matse. He echoed my words and said, “We need to embrace our own artists. If we could have people come to a stadium at the Dubai Expo to see emaswati and appreciate our music, it tells you how much outsiders love our music,” shared Matse. He went on to say another liswati who also performed at the Expo was our very own Symphony. The Dubai Expo was held in March this year.

He went on to say locals should also play their part and decide to empower local artists. “They mustn’t just love us, but they must trust us, and believe we can now fill up or our own shows,” shared Matse. He’s currently travelling on a media tour in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, to promote his latest song titled Uzensa kahle zonkizinto that he released last month. I also spoke to Lindelwa Mafa Vice President of Eswatini Arts Music Association (SWAMA) who has advocated for local’s music for years. Mgcaki as she affectionately calls me said, “It’s like you were listening to my show early in the week, I was talking about the same thing. It’s high time we support our very own, this also means that the local artists as well need to up their game,” said Mafa. She further mentioned that when she started playing local music, most people didn’t understand it, but they later embraced it, and paid attention.  “Once in a while it’s ok to bring in outside artists, but we are ready to host events with our own artists only,” shared the broadcaster.

Rusty

President of SWAMA Lutfo Dlamini shared the same sentiments. “After the pandemic I thought artists would be rusty after a long absence due to COVID-19, but I was pleasantly surprised that our local artists came back fired up,” shared Dlamini. He went on to say they are hosting a local artist’s only show  next month dubbed the Eswatini Farmers Market.  Kudos to them. Dlamini said, “The ministry and relevant councils should promote them; they mustn’t sideline them once they comment on issues. My wish is that we have money and be deliberate about promoting locals,” shared Dlamini.

He concluded by saying we must not lose another liswati to the world because we didn’t support them fully. He made mention of Sibusiso Vilane, a liswati, after conquering Mount Everest in May 26, 2003, the then President Thabo Mbeki gave Vilane a South African flag, yet he’s one of our own.  He also made mention of Uncle Waffles who’s already at international standards, that we don’t lose her to the world because we don’t support our own. He also shared that in other countries like England and USA the music industry contributes greatly towards the economy. As I conclude my piece, my plea is that we all support our very own; we have rich talent in our kingdom. The relevant structures, councils, corporate companies, banks, should pour into our own local artists, so that they can grow their brands here at home first. My ideal top ten for the first local only artists would go like this. Of course there’s so much more talent other than my top 10!

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