HARARE – On Saturday, Bulawayo, the City of Kings became the first city apart from Harare to successfully host the annual National Arts Merit Awards (NAMA).
Internationally acclaimed artiste Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi who had earlier staged a fundraising concert for the Nama was the guest of honour.
The night however, belonged to dendera music star Suluman Chimbetu who scooped three awards including the “People’s Choice”.
Held at the Large City Hall, the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe-organised prize-giving gala was attended by among others; Education, Sport, Arts and Culture minister David Coltart and his deputy Lazarus Dokora, soccer legend Peter Ndlovu and a host of local celebrities.
Ndlovu who presented one of the awards, was also at hand to receive a Nama on behalf of Mokoomba, a group from his home area of Binga.
The sole state broadcasting television ZTV screened the event live after snubbing the gala for the past four years.
Indeed, Saturday was the night for Bulawayo artistes as the majority of them including Albert Nyathi, Mageshi, Iyasa walked away with various prizes while veteran artist and Amakhosi director Cont Mhlanga presented one of the awards.
Like Mtukudzi who fundraised for the Nama, internationally-renowned sculptor Dominic Benhura gave the guest of honour a sculpture as a way of expressing his appreciation to the arts industry and Nama initiative.
Over the past 11 years the event was only held in the capital, Harare and the success of Bulawayo event will go a long way in demonstrating that the national awards should move from one town to the other.
Harpers Mapimhidze of Dancers Association in an interview with the Daily News expressed his gratitude to the Nama for recognising dancers in the country.
“Over the years dancing has not been taken seriously by the society, the profession is regarded as unholy — but I would like to thank the national arts body Nacz for recognising us — dancers.
“We are motivated and happy to note that we are being appreciated by the country at large.
The Nama awards were launched in February 2002 with the purpose of encouraging creativity and recognising outstanding artistes’ achievements.