MBARE Netball Complex stands proud in the middle of the sprawling high density suburb it is named after.
It shares its boundaries with another iconic building, Stodart Hall. The venue is much loved and has become part of the DNA of the ever growing Zimdancehall movement.
Originally built to host sporting events, the venue is now increasingly used to host dancehall shows. Many rags to riches stories trace their beginnings there. A number of youths have been turned into dancehall superstars after performing at the venue.
The Netball Complex is to Mbare youths what Old Trafford is to many in the City of Manchester – a theatre of dreams. It was no surprise that Killer T decided to host his latest show at the complex, a show meant to celebrate the artiste’s fifth anniversary in the music industry. Top artists like Seh Calaz, Freeman, Kinnah, Soul Jah Love, Shinsoman, Stunner, Jah Signal, Nutty O and Empress Massina among many others, were billed to perform. So was an array of DJ’s that included DJ Cables, Judgment Yard and PTK.
The idea to celebrate his journey in music with fellow artists was indeed a noble idea with the show progressing well with DJ’s taking turns to entertain the crowd before artists took over the role much later.
Killer T had a good outing mixing old and new songs in a set that was a little over half an hour long. For a main act, his set was rather short and he left many fans demanding more. The night arguably belonged to Freeman, Seh Calaz, Hwindi President and Kinnah. The aforementioned stars proved beyond doubt that they are the most underrated dancehall acts in Zimbabwe as they put up neat and entertaining sets. Female chanter Empress Massina also delivered an electric performance, but for Bonto Man and Shacky T, the night might be one they want to quickly forget.
Mbare youths are arguably the most vocal dancehall fans in the country and are quick to register their displeasure in the most violent and deplorable ways. The culture of throwing missiles on stage seems to have possessed dancehall fans and in the process tainting the name of dancehall – an ugly-culture that stakeholders must find ways to bring to an end.
As said, the complex is a theatre of dreams and many a dancehall trialist wishes to be exposed to that powerful fan base in the dancehall community. Some artists even know the fans personally as they roam the same dusty streets of Mbare daily, but when the fans think it’s a bad set – they are unforgiving.
Bonto Man was the first to witness the ugly-culture, a few songs into his rather energetic and promising set, missiles rained from all corners of the complex leaving the artist with no choice but to take the walk of shame, leaving the stage way before his time. Shack T’s set was also cut short following another missile mania.
As if that was not enough, more missiles were thrown on stage when Seh Calaz took time to appear on stage even after the MC had announced that he was the next act. Missile throwing has characterised many dancehall functions and it is unfortunate that even international artists have come face to face to face with these unrepentant hooligans. The practice is indeed shameful and has prompted many to dismiss dancehall fans as a rowdy lot, it has indeed turned into an UGLY-CULTURE.
Same old Sauro
Soul Jah Love is indeed one of the many success stories of the Zimdancehall revolution. He is a popular and loved on the streets of almost every ghetto. He has many mega hits to his name and one would expect the musician to be a true superstar – but it’s a different story, a story many believe is of the chanter’s own making.
On many occasions, the musician has been accused of not attending shows and, when he does either he comes late or he performs just for a few songs much to the displeasure of music fans, but it seems he cares not. The artist was billed to perform at the anniversary and many a fan braved the chilly weather waiting for the star. To their disappointment he did not turn up despite assurances by the MC, including even some people from his camp. His absence was not taken lightly by ghetto youths, who vented their anger by resorting to their tried and tested ugly-culture.
The missiles went on for more than 30 minutes forcing everyone in the VIP stands, including this writer to find cover under the stage whilst some guests found shelter in toilets and outside the venue nearly causing stampedes. The fans had been waiting for Soul Jah Love all night and the artist chose not to respect their wishes. One wonders the thought process behind the musician.
In the midst of the missiles, one visibly shaken fan posed a question to this writer; “Nhai mdara, kana Soul Jah Love asingade kuimbira isusu, anoda kuimbira ani, haasi avekuzvifonera here? It was a good question at the wrong time, with missiles all over, my priority was safety but now that I managed to escape unhurt – allow me to ask:
Dear Soul Jah Love, if you snub those that stood by you in your formative years, who then will you treat with respect? Why have you forsaken your support base; that you cannot even sing just two songs at the same Netball Complex that made you into who you are today?