Fireworks at Ngoma awards

And to celebrate their tenth anniversary the organising National Arts Committee (NAC) went flat out and invited Oscar winners and South African Tsotsi stars Terry Pheto and Presley Chweneyagae.

But despite the hype that usually characterises the show before the awards night, the ceremony never ceases to disappoint. And this year, the event held last weekend at Lusaka Mulungushi International Conference Center (MICC) was not any different.

Yes, the same flaws that have picture of the Ngoma shows in the past were still very evident.

After putting up what could be termed as a successful award ceremony (compared to past years) last year when mobile company CELTEL Zambia pitched in to co- sponsor the event, this year’s event was definitely far from being impressive. This was inspite of CELTEL once again coming to the aide of Ngoma awards with a donation of K300 million about(U$73,000).

Unlike last year when the stage seemed to come alive with psychedelic lights and African deco. This years stage was bear and had poor lighting and the only deco available were banners of the sponsors.

And even after so many years of the Ngoma, the organisers are still yet to begin appreciating the advantages of using cordless microphones.

Instead, they still prefer having people running onto the stage to remove the corded microphones in between performances. This was done despite the show being live on television.

Even worse was that the microphones which the organisers seemed to have invested so much faith in kept on going and off, leaving the audience to only guess what was being said by emcees comedian Augustine Lungu and Karen Nakawala.

And for people like television personalities Claudette Sindanza, M-nets Kamiza Chikula and former National Arts Council (NAC) chairman, Mumba Kapumpa who were invited to present the awards to deserving recipients, it was mind boggling to see them struggle to unglue the brown envelopes which held the winners names.

After all ‘brown evelopes’ have been linked to gifts given to gain favor.A ribbon or a simple sticker would certainly have done better in place of the glue.

Aside from the many speeches the audience were also subjected to mini advertising promotions done during award presentations made by various company representatives who had been invited to hand out the Ngoma.

By the time Tsotsi star Terry came on stage to present the award, the audience was at it’s wits. And although she seemed to sympathise, she reprimanded the audience saying “I know some of you are anxious, but please remember that we are here to honour these individuals who have worked so hard in the past year,” pleaded Terry when it became evident that the crowd was no longer interested in the proceedings of the show.

And although the performance by ‘ The legends band’ headed by the legendary Brian Chengala at the start of the show showed promise of better things to come, other performers like Celtel Star Search winner Theo failed to impress the audience as did a Malawian guest artiste who only received scattered applause because he performed a gospel song.

And speaking of gospel music, NAC still owes the christian community or perhaps Zambian music fans at large an explanation as to gospel artistes are shunned at the awards.

The only consolation this year was Nathan Nyirenda’s nomination in the Alick Nkhata Award category for best vocal recording, an award which went to Kora award nominee Marsha Moyo who also left Mucky Mwale hanging.

Marsha scooped the award for her new album ‘The fine print’

While Nathan perhaps did deserve to be nominated after the success of his album ‘Mwemakufi’ (My Knees), Ephraim is another artiste whose flare for singing and performing has dazzled the many music enthusiasts.

His album ‘Limo Limo Ndanaka’ continues to be a best seller after it’s release early this year. He has now recorded in Swahili for the international audience.

Surely, shouldn’t such achievement deserve an award or at least a mare nomination? It would have been interesting to see the two battle it out.

Even the Ngosa brothers of Matthew and BJ whose contribution to the music industry cannot be overemphasized, they could have had their day of appreciation had NAC decided to include the category of best gospel artiste.

Better yet, they could have been nominated for the Emmanuel Mulemena award for best male performers which went to K’Millian who shoved off competition from his Sling Beats label mates Hamoba and TY2.

Everybody knows that K’Millian is one Zambia most popular artiste, what with 3 successful albums which includes his most recent album ‘Another Day’. However he is not a performer but a recording artiste whose performing acts are better left in the comfort of his home.

The same goes for Hamoba and TY2 who though better than K’Millian did not deserve to be nominated.

Had Runnel still enjoying the success of “Uwamunobe” (Somebody else’s) been nominated, it would have been a different story. He’s an exciting artiste who knows how to hypnotise the audience with his antics.

However, Lily T was a well deserved winner scooping the award for best female performer in the Joyce Nyirongo Award.

Her vocal abilities are something worth admiring, it is no wonder considering she mentored by the now legendary Maureen Lupo Lilanda, who is afour time Ngoma award winner.

“Last year was time but I had a good feeling this year,” she said before broking into Osalila (Don’t Cry), a song which ironically talks about using one’s talents to get recognition.

The Champion Banda for the best band went to Green Labels who beat past Ngoma winners Amayenge and Distro Kuomboka. One can only wonder where they have been performing for them to be crowned winners.

Other awards given included drama, popular theatre, traditional folk music and dance, creative and visual arts.

After 10 years, the Ngoma still have a long way to go before they can be considered a true reflection of excellence in the arts especially in music.

December 2006
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