Understanding the Risks: Musicians Facing On-Stage Assaults in Outskirts Performances

Understanding the Risks: Musicians Facing On-Stage Assaults in Outskirts Performances

A few years back, the renowned sungura artist Alick Macheso was enjoying himself on stage in Zvishavane as usual, fully immersed in his performance. He entertained the audience with popular songs like “Tafadzwa”, “Madhuve”, “Shedia”, “Madhau”, and “Murume”. Following tradition, he would occasionally pause to take song requests from the crowd.

The atmosphere seemed perfect, with a lively audience and pleasant summer weather. As the concert reached its peak, enthusiastic fans crowded closer to the stage, showing their appreciation for Macheso’s musical talents by generously tipping him with crisp US bills, mostly in $100 and $50 denominations. However, as the night progressed and dawn approached, his security team appeared on stage to escort him out, triggering an unexpected turn of events. One fan brandished a machete, previously concealed, and demanded that Macheso continue performing, arguing that their payment entitled them to dictate the course of the show. Sensing the potential danger, Macheso reluctantly agreed to comply with their demands.

“Iiii, ndatya kuti ndikaburuka pastage vana vevanhu vangagurwe mitezo (I had security, but I had to comply as I realised people could lose their limbs in a scuffle),” Macheso reportedly told his close confidants after the disturbing incident.

Suluman “Sulu” Chimbetu, a Dendera artist, has encountered numerous confrontations with these unique types of fans. Recently, his performance in Mazowe was disrupted due to violent altercations between rival machete-wielding groups.

“I was on stage just like any other normal day. As we were going about our business, all hell broke loose. A guy in the crowd pulled out a machete and charged towards his target, who then sought refuge on stage.

“Sadly, that did not stop the attacker, who went on to strike his victim before my eyes. It was a typical horror scene, to say the least. My team and I immediately abandoned the stage,” he said.

Outside the venue, a full-scale machete war ensued.

“They did not have respect for anyone,” Sulu continued.

“In fact, we struggled to leave the venue, as some of them violently instructed us to go back on stage. It is disturbing to note such culture has become prevalent.

“We are losing a lot of lives due to such barbaric acts, and I feel it is time for the authorities to take stern action. Live shows are meant to entertain people . . . As musicians, we are not safe at all.”

Hip-hop artist Holy Ten experienced vandalism to his car in Zvishavane, perpetrated by aggressive individuals who were seeking retribution. According to the musician’s manager, Tinashe Guvava, the attack occurred because they declined to extend their performance beyond the agreed-upon hours.

“Our contract stated that we were supposed to perform from 7pm and end the show at midnight, which we did.

“However, the crowd demanded we play until sunrise.

“We could not extend because our shows are charged per hour and the promoter was not going to cover the extra hours,” he said.

“The misunderstanding resulted in them attacking us and destroying our cars. As I speak, I do not think we will be comfortable performing in Zvishavane again.”

During 2020, reports emerged that Zimdancehall singer Shinsoman was allegedly detained against his will at a Chegutu concert, compelled to perform his song “Mawaya-waya” repeatedly for an extended duration.

“I had a show in Kwekwe with Freeman and all they (rogue fans) did was fight. In Chegutu, it was total horror. They made me sing for hours. After performing one song, they would make me repeat it,” he was quoted saying.

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