‘I was not pushed out of Skyz Metro’

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Soccer Rugby Sport - Sun­day Life Cor­re­spon­dent

AS the stature of Bu­l­awayo’s first com­mer­cial ra­dio sta­tion has risen in leaps and bounds since it started broad­cast in Septem­ber last year, some have spec­u­lated that the man who helped es­tab­lish Skyz Metro, Cont Mh­langa, has been pushed out of the sta­tion. More than any­one, Mh­langa felt the sta­tion’s birth pangs, play­ing a key role as Skyz went head to head with other po­ten­tial broad­cast­ers in a bid to land the right to fi­nally es­tab­lish a com­mer­cial ra­dio sta­tion in the City of Kings. Force­ful and even com­bat­ive dur­ing the li­cens­ing pe­riod, Mh­langa has re­treated to the pe­riph­ery in the past year, only resur­fac­ing from his Lu­pane hide­out dur­ing ma­jor events hosted in Bu­l­awayo. As the sta­tion cel­e­brates its first year an­niver­sary, marked by a mu­sic con­cert at White City Sta­dium on Satur­day night, Mh­langa is ready to set the record straight. In an in­ter­view with Sun­day Life, the play­wright, film­maker and cul­tural ac­tivist said that he had not been forced out of Skyz Metro, but in­stead his ex­ile from the sta­tion was self im­posed. “The si­lence and back­ground role that I’ve adopted for the first year of the sta­tion’s ex­is­tence has been de­lib­er­ate. Some­times when you give birth to some­thing it is bet­ter to just watch it from a dis­tance,” he said. How­ever, Mh­langa said that peo­ple should not mis­take his si­lence or lack of vis­i­bil­ity for im­po­tence, as he could still crack the whip at the sta­tion if he felt that it had lost di­rec­tion. While the god­fa­ther of the Bu­l­awayo arts scene is no longer the face of the sta­tion, he can still call the shots if he de­sired. “I could break ev­ery­thing if I wanted to but that’s not what I want to do. I’m not in­volved in the day to day run­ning of the sta­tion but I’m very much in­volved in the pol­icy mak­ing be­hind the scenes. That’s why I’m in a po­si­tion to tell you that the gig on Satur­day (last night) is the start of a larger, an­nual mu­sic fes­ti­val. Those are things that I’m plan­ning be­hind the scenes” he said.

As a ti­tan of the Bu­l­awayoB arts scene who has dwarfed all other con­tem­po­rari­esconte since in­de­pen­dence, Mh­langa said he had b been in­un­dated with calls from peo­ple who wanted him to sprin­kle a bit of his magic on Skyz Metro’s pro­gram­ming.pro­gram

“My phone is al­way al­ways ring­ing. Peo­ple are al­ways say­ing that they want my touch. How­ever, what I’m say­ing is that some­tim some­times you need to be an ob­server or just a mem­ber of th the au­di­ence. When you’ve got a bird’s eye view of a pro­ject,proj you get to as­sess some­thing bet­ter than when it is in your pocket,” Mh­langa said.

The sta­tion has been grow­ing un­der the lead­er­ship of CEO Qhubani Moy Moyo. When Skyz Metro made an un­cer­tain de­but at the be­gin­ning of Septem­ber last year, many doubted its longevity. Live broad­casts were yet to be­gin, and the sta­tion’s sig­nal was still hit or miss as it strug­gled to c cover the whole of Bu­l­awayo as promised.

From those ten­ta­tive first steps, the sta­tion stag­gered on un­til it started its live broad­casts in Novem­ber. Al­most nine months in into 2017, Skyz Metro is cruis­ing, amass­ing a fol­low­ing that many thought was not pos­si­ble. With na­tion na­tional sta­tions’ hav­ing al­ready es­tab­lished a foothold i in Bu­l­awayo, many thought that Skyz would find the goi go­ing tough.

“No one thought this was pos­si­ble. A sta­tion in Bu­l­awayo play­ing mu­sic from Bu­l­awayo is not pos­si­ble, many peo­ple said. Watch­ing the sta­tion grow over the past year has b been the most sat­is­fy­ing feel­ing ever be­cause it is al­way al­ways great to do some­thing when you’ve got peo­ple doub doubt­ing your ca­pa­bil­i­ties to pull it off,” he said.

Mh­langa said that whilewh ev­ery­one touted Satur­day’s party as the first y year an­niver­sary party, the man­age­ment at Skyz M Metro took it as a launch party, as they had swore that the they would not hold a party when the sta­tion went live lastla year as they was noth­ing yet to cel­e­brate.

“We de­cided on an an­niver­sarya launch be­cause we didn’t want to have a l launch party for a sta­tion that peo­ple didn’t know. In­stead­Ins we wanted peo­ple to come and cel­e­brate with us w when the sta­tion was now on air and well es­tab­lished. I’ I’m glad that our faith has been re­warded,” he said.

The seeds of Mh­langa Mh­langa’s Skyz Metro dream were sown when Mh­langa started op­er­at­ing an own in-house ra­dio sta­tion in the earl early 90s from Amakhosi Cul­tural Cen­tre. Three decades af­ter that vi­sion started tak­ing shape, Mh­langa knows he owes his grat­i­tude to those whose ef­forts led to the sta­tion’s 2016 birth.

“Af­ter all those years of lob­by­ing the dream is now real. I’d like to thank the peo­ple of Bu­l­awayo for wel­com­ing Skyz Metro Metro. I’d also give thanks to those that started with the sta sta­tion last year al­though there’re those who we told four or five years ago that we were es­tab­lish­ing a sta­tion and they stuck with us. They de­serve spe­cial praise be­causeb back then it wasn’t clear the sta­tion would ex­ist but they kept faith with us,” he said.

Bruce Ndlovu

Cont Mh­langa

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