NAMA returns to Bulawayo amid mixed reactions

Mbulelo Mpofu

BULAWAYO welcomed back the National Arts Merit Awards (NAMA), but not everyone was happy with the event that honoured over 40 brilliant artists, groups and organisations at the Zimbabwe International Exhibition Centre on Saturday night.

The theme of the country’s premier awards ceremony was #Kwan22, and it reflected the spirit of the night as the arts sector celebrated its achievements and potential.

The National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ) and Jacaranda Culture and Media Corporation (JCMC) organised the annual artistic extravaganza, attended by Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Judith Ncube.

She praised the city’s vibrant culture and art scene and hailed NAMA’s return as a recognition of Bulawayo as the country’s cultural hub.

“Culture and art are still alive in this beautiful city. The coming of NAMA to Bulawayo is a clear endorsement and acknowledgement of Bulawayo as a cultural hub,” said Minister Ncube.

Below are the major talking points of the night:           


The venue was not full, but there was a sizable crowd of arts lovers who came to witness the celebration of artistic talent.

People from different parts of the country showed up to support the event. Despite some rumours of division in the arts sector, the night showed a remarkable display of respect and unity among the arts practitioners who came to cheer for their nominated peers.

The event also attracted top government officials, representatives of NACZ, NGZ, and the Ministry of Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture.


The attendees dressed to impress, showing their sense of style and occasion on the red carpet and the stage. From elegant suits to traditional outfits and stunning nightwear, the guests showed off their flair and opulence.

Mzoe7, clad in cowhide, was a showstopper, while radio presenter Miss Red dazzled in a black dress.


 The night was also filled with entertainment, as various artists took to the stage to showcase their talent and skills.

Renowned dub-poet, Albert Nyathi, rising musicians Baba Harare, Noluntu J, Master H, Calvin Mangena, MJ Sings, Bhekiwe, Tamy Moyo and Msiz’Kay, and gospel singer Everton Mlalazi and traditional music group Indonsakusa delivered captivating performances that had the audience dancing and clapping. The performers exhibited excellent choreography and vocal delivery, showing that they had prepared well for the night.


However, the event was not without its flaws, as some aspects of the organisation left much to be desired.

The organisers failed to provide clear guidance and signs for the guests, resulting in confusion and frustration at entry points.

Some of the guests complained that the security personnel were rude and hostile towards them, something that the organisers should address.

The red carpet area was also chaotic, as there was no one to control the crowd and some people interfered with the TV interviews.

The area also looked cramped and small. Moreover, some of the ushers seemed unaware of the prominent figures in the arts sector and struggled to help them find their seats, which was a sign of poor identification and coordination.


The speeches at the ceremony were long and dull, and failed to capture the audience’s interest.

The audience would clap and murmur impatiently before the speeches were over. The general feeling among the audience was that the speeches should have been shorter and fewer.


The hosts of the night were three skilled and seasoned media personalities: Arthur Evans, Charleen Mangweni-Furusa, and radio personality Nokuthula Sithole aka Noxy Divine Diva. They did a great job of keeping the event lively and engaging. The organisers also involved different people from the creative and cultural industries to present the awards, which showed diversity and inclusion. The award presentation was smooth and fast, with no technical hiccups with the display of the nominees on the big screen.

However, a major concern was the absence of some of the big names in the arts sector, such as Jah Prayzah and Winky D, who sent representatives to collect their awards.

This raised questions about their respect for the local awards. The audience was disappointed and angry, as some of them had bought tickets hoping to see these musical stars and felt cheated.

The night ended with both happiness and sorrow for those who won and those who lost. Kinah-The-Music, who won the Outstanding Newcomer award in the music category, was ecstatic and grateful.

“I still can’t believe that this has happened. It means a whole lot to me. It means that dreams are valid and we should dare to dream bigger,” he said.

On the other hand, veteran art practitioner and Earground boss, Plot Mhako, was bitter and vocal.

“I have been nominated for NAMA four consecutive years and never won. I feel indifferent. I will not allow them to include my name in future. One day, I will speak out. Today (Saturday), I will sound bitter if I do,” he posted on Facebook

Singer Saintfloew, who had the most nominations, did not win any of the awards, and most of the performers were not nominees either. 

NAMA winners list:


Outstanding Female Dancer  — Deborah Kabongo in Fame in a Frame

· Outstanding Male Dancer  — Sean Mambwere in The Chronicles

· Outstanding Dance Group  — Salt and Light  — The Chronicles

· Outstanding Dance Choreographer  — Terence Kapesa  — A man from Bulawayo  — Saintffloew


· Outstanding 2-Dimensional Work  — Wire Car by Christwish Mulunga

· Outstanding 3-Dimensional Work  — Charging Gorilla by Ray Chataira

· Outstanding Mixed Media Work  — Sins of our forefathers

· Outstanding Exhibition  — Pamoyo Sihlengeni  — (Solo Exhibition at National Gallery of Zimbabwe-Bulawayo: curated by Doris Kamupira)


· Outstanding Poet  — Ngonidzashe Paradza aka Mambo Guramatunhu

· Outstanding Comedian (None)

· Outstanding Social Media Skit -Admire Takudzwa Mushambi aka Mama Vee


· Outstanding Journalist – (Print) Sindiso Dube –Alpha Media

· Outstanding Journalist – (Radio)  — Chamvary  — ZiFM stereo

· Outstanding Journalist – (Television)  — Collete Musanyera  — ZTV

 · Outstanding Online Media (Khumbulani Muleya  — Heart and Soul)


· Outstanding Actor  — Dean Jones as Lago in Aladdin

· Outstanding Actress  — Musawenkosi Sibanda as ALL MOTHER: Simunye We are One

· Outstanding Theatrical Production  — Simunye We are One, directed by Mongi Wekhaya Mthombeni produced by Shearwater


· Outstanding First Creative Published Work  — The Train House on Lobengula Street by Fatima Kara 

· Outstanding Children’s Book  — The Haunted Pumkin by Mai Sarungano Folktales

· Outstanding Fiction book  — UKhethiwe by Zibusiso Mabonisa

· Outstanding Poetry Book — Shamhu yezera renyu by Memory Chirere


· Outstanding Actor   — Everson K Chieza as Jabulani in the November Promise

· Outstanding Actress  — Bonakele Agnes Ncube as Dudu in High School Diary

· Outstanding Music Video  — Damage  — Tahle wedzinza — Directed by Jonathan Samukange

· Outstanding Screen Production (Television)  — High School Diary  — John Mabuyane

· Outstanding Screen Production (short length film)  — Daughter of the soil by Derrick Manieca

· Outstanding Screen Production (full length film) — White yet Black by Steve Chikosi


· Outstanding Newcomer  — Kinah-the-Music (Shekinah Nathan Ndlovu)

· Outstanding Female Musician  — Feli Nandi

· Outstanding Male Musician  — Enzo Ishall

· Outstanding Song  — Bhebhi Rako Raroorwa by Enzo Ishall

· Outstanding Album  — Chiremerera by Jah Prayzah


· Promoter of the Year  — Chipaz Promotions

· Artist in the Diaspora  — Learnmore Jonasi Mwanyenyeka aka Long John (Stand Up Comedy) based in the US.

 · Arts Personality of the Year  — Clive Mono Mukundu

 · Arts Service Award  — Robert Malcolm McLaren

 · Lifetime Achievement Award  — Dr Thompson Kumbirayi Tsodzo

 · People’s Choice Award  — Winky D (Wallace Chirimuko)

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