You’re only successful when you make it outside Zim
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.