Bongani Ndlovu, Showbiz Correspondent
WHEN you enter your favourite watering hole or attend a show, one of the first people you meet at the entrance, besides the cashier, are heavily built individuals directing human traffic in and out of the venue.
Call them amabhawu, monya or ndimba ndimba, bouncers have been part of the entertainment business for a long time and they are here to stay.
With nicknames like Viper, Undertaker, Sgebenga, VID or Nyamazana, their demeanour is chilling and intimidating. They always have an unsightly scowl of some sort across their faces as they man entrances at local nightspots showing off a no-nonsense mood.
Many people have had run-ins with a bouncer with some getting beatings from them in forms of hot claps that echo from a distant signalling that someone is being disciplined for their unruly behaviour. However, for a certain group of bouncers, they want to do away with this type of crowd control and handle people better, however problematic they are.
These are the Bulawayo Scorpions. Their red uniform stands out plus when they are wearing it, they look like they mean business. For the better part of last year, the Bulawayo Scorpions have been spotted at various shows around the city after being established at the beginning of last year.
The chairman of the organisation, John “Viper” Mhangwa, said they wanted to change the bad reputation that bouncers have come to be associated with.
“We’re dealing with human beings here not animals. Even if the person has drunk themselves to a drunken stupor, it doesn’t take away the fact that they’re your customer and that’s where you get your bread and butter. So that’s why we set up this organisation so that we formalise our profession,” said Viper.
“We can’t be just bouncers that walk around the streets intimidating people. We want to be bouncers with brains and what counts is the brain of a person, not the size of their body. Our aim when we set up this organisation was to protect those who need protection.”
Clad in their red golf shirts, the bouncers do not work in Bulawayo alone, but also travel to as far as Harare to handle shows. Next Saturday, they will be providing security during the Davido show.
The Bulawayo Scorpions will also be on the job at the Uhuru Festival at the Large City Hall Car Park and the Jah Prayzah show at Hartsfield Tshisanyama that are being held in the city on the same day.
To be part of the scorpions, one has to pay a joining fee of $5, thereafter they will be assigned to different jobs as they come in on a rotational basis.
“After you join, bouncers are assigned to shows on a rotational basis. Everyone is kitted up and those who are not experienced at the job, shadow the ones who have been doing it for a long time,” said Viper.
Apart from bouncing, the group of heavily built men have other hobbies. Although its not surprising that most of them are body builders, a majority are into contact sports such as Taekwondo, boxing and Karate.
Said one of the bouncers, Thembinkosi “Nyamazana” Lunga, who uses body building to keep fit: “Boxing is a sport that I take very seriously. It keeps me fit and healthy and I encourage people to take it up.”
All in all, the bouncers are just regular people who, when you get to know them joke around, support football teams, have fears, can discuss politics, economics and other topics.
Others are electricians by profession but do bouncing to supplement their daily income.
It is only when one frequents the nightspots often enough that one can pry a smile from the bouncers as they warmly greet you as you enter the establishment for your night out.