Bongani Ndlovu, Showbiz Correspondent
Chaotic scenes rocked Bulawayo last week after a show pitting Jamaican superstar Busy Signal and South Africa’s Busiswa was abandoned due to crowd trouble during the Southern African Music Arts (Sama) Festival.
Missiles, in the form of cans whisky and beer bottles, rained on stage when Winky D walked off stage because of poor sound.
It was the same in Harare at the Glamis Arena where impatient fans again threw missiles on stage as they were riled by Busy Signal’s band which was still doing sound check at about 10pm.
Local acts — Freeman and Lady Squanda were made to perform with back tracks but poor sound continued to ruin the show.
The show that was held in two legs, was organised by United Kingdom based Y2K Entertainment Promotions.
There seems to be a common thread of poor organisation that links all three shows that Y2K have organised this year, one in the United Kingdom and the two in Zimbabwe.
The Sama Festival in UK at Leicester City witnessed chaotic scenes outside the Leicester Arena thereby spoiling what could have been a historical music festival. The festival featured Oliver Mtukudzi, Fungisai, Winky D and Jah Prayzah.
Hundreds of people shoved and pushed their way into the venue for free, as there were no security personnel to man the entrances, while some fans, who had pre-purchased tickets, failed to make it into the venue.
Away from the chaos outside the venue, the public address system was so poor that fans could hardly hear some vocals, especially when Jah Prayzah was performing.
Judging by what happened in Bulawayo, chaos seems to characterise shows organised by Y2K Entertainment Promotions.
The organisers were largely to blame for the chaos that happened in Bulawayo.
In their wisdom the organisers only opened gates at 10PM for a show that was supposed to start at 6 PM according to information on posters and advance tickets.
Food and beverage vendors also came in around the same time and the stage was not yet set up.
Those who were supposed to set up the stage were still outside waiting to be cleared by the organisers.
This reporter saw Sandra Ndebele’s dancers and Centre Party at around 7PM waiting in a long queue for them to be tagged by a person only known as Holyman. Even Freeman Mugadza and his team who were in charge of the sound were tagged around 10PM.
Hundreds of people were milling around the venue waiting for confirmation that the show was indeed still on.
There were no signs to confirm that Busiswa and Busy Signal were in the city prompting some fans to conclude that the show was off.
Finally the gates were opened and the fans were greeted by people still doing sound checks.
This according to sources was because Y2K delayed in paying for the PA system they preferred which was then taken by organisers of another function.
It has become the norm for many show organisers to bring the main act late on stage and this was partly what caused the Bulawayo chaos.
At 2AM the main acts Busiswa and Busy Signal had not gone on stage. This meant that the show was going to end at around 4AM.The main act is supposed to be on stage by midnight the latest so that by 1AM the show ends.
The same thing happened last year at the Black Motion show at Hartsfield Tshisanyama as the duo got on stage at 2AM after violence had broken out due to their delay in performing.
So for the organisers to solely lay blame for the abandonment of the show on fans being rowdy because of a small reason isn’t justified.
Those who had paid $25 to be in the comfort of the VIP were robbed. That was not a VIP section. They should have called it a section behind the stage only, as there was nothing VIP there, save for the convenience of buying drinks and ablutions, which were also installed late. In any case there was no security as some people were scaling the steel fence from outside to gain free entry to the show as security was lax. According to police sources there were 10 police officers, 10 private security guards and 10 bouncers hired for the show. This was inadequate for the numbers that thronged the Large City Hall car park and when violence erupted secuirty was found wanting.
The National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ) acting communications and marketing manager Cathrine Mthombeni said they had received a report from the organisers Y2K and were going through it.
“NACZ yesterday (Thursday) received a report from the promoter on what transpired. NACZ will assess the report and then engage the promoter and map a way forward. Meanwhile NACZ condemns any form of violence in the entertainment landscape. Regardless of the causes, we deplore hooliganism and call upon all concerned to fight against the ugly scenes of violence,” said Mthombeni.
She said promoters were the ones who should determine whether or not to refund fans their monies.
“Organising shows is a business hence it is the responsibility of the promoter to ensure that clients are properly engaged whenever shows do not happen as planned,” said Mthombeni.
On the issue of security, Mthombeni said Y2K were in charge of it.
“NACZ is not mandated to deal with security issues. Issues of security should always be a priority on the Promoter’s mind. If it means getting comprehensive insurance cover for the show, so be it.”
The fans said they were short-changed by the show organisers.
“I went to both shows and all I can say is that I’m disappointed. I didn’t go to the show to watch Seh Calaz and Killer T as we can attend their shows for $2 anytime. I wanted to enjoy Busy Signal and Busiswa in action,” said a fan who refused to be named.
She said she attends Kalawa shows every year and has never witnessed violence although the show is one of the biggest in the country.