You’re only suc­cess­ful when you make it out­side Zim

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page -

SO Mbo Ma­hocs is now a su­per celebrity here in Bu­l­awayo. To be hon­est she was a celebrity way be­fore her role as Chichi in the South African soap Scan­dal. Some of us who came into con­tact with her while she was young and dream­ing of star­dom knew she was go­ing to make it big one day. She has loads of tal­ent and her hu­mil­ity is un­par­al­leled. Even now that she is a big star you still don’t have to beg her for a selfie in the street — she gives those in hun­dreds and without think­ing twice. Meet her in the streets of Bu­l­awayo she still stops to talk to any­one.

A few months ago I had the plea­sure of meet­ing her in one of our lo­cal restau­rants. She had brought her par­ents out for lunch. She stopped by my ta­ble and we talked — about lots of things art-re­lated. And she kept say­ing she was still the same Mbon­isi we knew years back. The lights and so­phis­ti­ca­tion of Johannesburg life has not changed her. But in the eyes of our peo­ple it had. Mbo Ma­hocs was no longer or­di­nary. She was now a god­dess. Though she had been on lo­cal tele­vi­sion be­fore her role in Scan­dal but never had peo­ple screamed her name and gone crazy like they did af­ter Scan­dal. I wit­nessed this my­self on two oc­ca­sions. First, on that very day I met her at the restau­rant scores of peo­ple kept troop­ing in and out of the restau­rant just to take pho­tos with her and ask her about Chichi and Scan­dal. These fans nearly mopped the ground she walked with their hands and clothes.

The sec­ond oc­ca­sion was when she vis­ited her for­mer school, Eve­line Girls High. The whole school went crazy. I was amazed at how some se­nior teach­ers even fol­lowed her to the school hall where she was giv­ing a talk to the school drama club. They all wanted to shake her hands. “She is our girl and she is now a star. We want to shake her hands,” one teacher said as she fol­lowed oth­ers who had trooped into the hall to meet the big star who had passed through their hands.

Mbo Ma­hocs is not the only one whose star rose and shone brighter af­ter mak­ing it out­side Zimbabwe. An­other ex­am­ple is Bekezela. Bekezela started his mu­si­cal ca­reer here at Amakhosi. He even recorded some of the songs peo­ple are crazy about now long back. But while here no one paid any at­ten­tion to him or his tal­ent. He was just an­other dreamer. Then he went to South Africa and BOOM! He is now a star and his mu­sic ap­pre­ci­ated by many. It’s sad that our tal­ent has to be recog­nised first out­side be­fore we re­ally em­brace them and also ap­pre­ci­ate them. This has to change.

True, it is dif­fi­cult to have a celebrity cul­ture in Bu­l­awayo. Celebrity life has its de­mands, and most of the de­mands the city can­not af­ford. Celebrity life needs a lot of money. Cash flow­ing into the sec­tor and to artistes. There are few gigs in the city. Mean­ing­ful gigs that give artistes money. When our artistes spend money it’s usu­ally from other sources and not from their artis­tic ex­ploits. And that is the prob­lem and a rea­son why the celebrity cul­ture has not taken root.

Any­way, away from celebrity and their lives this past week Bu­l­awayo hosted the Eu­ro­pean Film Fes­ti­val. It was an awe­some event. Great at­mo­sphere. Great set up. The films were a mixed bag but that is what a fes­ti­val is meant to be — mixed bag to carter for a va­ri­ety of tastes. Thank you so much to the Eu­ro­pean del­e­ga­tion for bring­ing the fes­ti­val to Bu­l­awayo. It is our hope that lo­cal film­mak­ers will be in­spired by the fes­ti­val to have a small fes­ti­val of their own and to make more films.

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