Bongani Ndlovu, Showbiz Correspondent
WHEN contemporary musician Hwabaraty burst onto the stage last Friday at the Bulawayo Theatre, he was met with a cold venue as there were not many people. In fact it was nearly empty, save for the handful of people who came through to watch his show dubbed “An evening with Hwabaraty”.
However, Japhet Mlauzi as his parents know him pulled out all the stops complete with a full band and dancers.
Khaya Arts director Future Dube promptly got onto the stage and got the show rolling just after 7PM, introducing Hwabaraty on stage. Undeterred by the paltry crowd that made Bulawayo Theatre a big cavity, he got down to business. On stage, Hwabaraty knows how to whip a crowd through his groovy fusion of mbaqanga, marabi and jazzy music.
The show in itself was not a waste of time to attend as it was engaging, especially if you had paid the mandatory $5 to enter. Hwabaraty had show attendees singing along some of his songs such as Woza Nhlanhla which features Jeys Marabini. One hour 30 minutes later, it was over and the crowd had swelled up a bit.
With so much talent, one was left wondering why Hwabaraty, a Roil Bulawayo Arts Awards nominee, had attracted a small crowd. Was it the $5 admission fee, poor advertising or the venue’s location. Or maybe the music that he is recording and performing does not resonate with the masses?
But wait, what happened to the many listeners on Skyz Metro FM who voted his song Makhwelintaba to the top of the station’s music charts last year?
Where or why aren’t these people coming to his shows when he calls for them?
Perhaps hosting the show in the city in the evening, not in his home neighbourhood Njube where people can just walk to watch him perform live was the problem. These are the many unanswered questions.
For his part, Hwabaraty says he is not deterred by the numbers last Friday.
“It’s not easy to talk me out or discourage me from my goal. I’m a tough character and what happened on Friday only spurs me on. I want to hold more shows in the city whether people attend or not.
“I want to push my passion,” said Hwabaraty.
Even without the support, Hwabaraty has the talent to make it in the music industry. His performance on Friday proved this as it was well thought out and was held without a glitch.
What is sad is that Hwabaraty might turn his talent to the global market, Europe to be frank and Austria to be specific. That is where most talented musicians from Bulawayo go to, Vusa Mkhaya, Insingizi, Nkwali and Future among others and Hwabaraty is no exception as he might be the country’s next cultural export.
“My vision is to reach out to the international community, not only Bulawayo. I gave myself a task to represent Bulawayo to the fullest and I’ll deliver on it,” said Hwabaraty.
And in doing so, Hwabaraty will hold another show next month at the same venue as he says he wants to “keep Bulawayo busy.”