Bongani Ndlovu, Showbiz Correspondent
Most local artistes have decided to safeguard themselves from the coronavirus outbreak by staying at their homes.
But, for them, this is terrifying as their creative juices are being stifled as the effects of regulations announced by Government against coronavirus set in.
With the cancellation of shows over the past two weeks and the blanket ban on gatherings around recreational facilities such as night clubs, bars and beerhalls, artistes who have been forced to go into self-isolation are now feeling the effects.
Not being able to perform or generally rehearse is not a great thing for them as they fear losing the golden touch and relevance. They, however, have no option but to stay indoors as the country has already recorded three cases of the virus.
“It’s not really that easy (self-isolation) as it has taken away practice, studio and social time. In essence, that’s where most of our inspiration comes from – being with friends and family and being inspired to write from situations arising.
“Also, I’m not able to record or rehearse,” said Amanda Grace, a gospel musician from Bulawayo.
But for dance queen-cum-singer Sandra Ndebele, the cancellation of shows and closing of bars has given her time to sharpen her culinary skills.
“I’m at home until this blows over. I also suggest that people do the same, it can be the difference between life and death. To keep myself busy, I’m constantly in the kitchen refining some recipes and learning new ones,” said Ndebele.
Jah Prayzah whose music album launch was affected by the pandemic said he was at home with his family.
“Everyone (Third Generation band members) is at home. We’ve stopped working as this thing is affecting everyone. As artistes, we were not prepared for it,” he said through his manager Keen Mushapaidze.
He added that the Hokoyo album which they had hoped to launch on Facebook next Tuesday, will likely not be launched again.
“We’re deliberating on the launch of the album and just closely monitoring this situation. We’ll see how it goes,” he said.
Award-winning videographer Vusumuzi “Blaqs” Hlatshwayo who is always up and about, recording music videos for top artistes including Jah Prayzah said he has been working from home for the past week. Considering the nature of his job which exposes him to numerous people, Blaqs said he was unsure if he had the virus or not.
“I’m trying to follow the given approach to stay at home. I don’t know if I’ve been affected because this whole thing will take 14 days for signs and symptoms to manifest.
“I’m feeling fine and have been self-isolating for the past days and only going out to get supplies once in a while,” said Blaqs.
“I’m an introvert, I like staying indoors and it’s helping improve my concentration. I’m in post-production with many of my shoots so I’m dealing with that.So,
I don’t really think this self-isolation is affecting my creativity. If I speak to my friends and family and find out they are alright, I’m less worried.”
Afro Jazz musician Jeys Marabini urged people to stay at home like he is doing.
“This disease has shaken the world very much. I’m at home self-isolating with my family and I hope people stay at home and keep safe.
“They should follow the instructions of the authorities as this virus will eventually pass by. In the meantime, they should minimise movement and social gatherings,” said Marabini.
Former Africa Revenge member, Willis Wataffi, said like everyone else, he has been greatly affected by the pandemic as he is now redundant because of self-isolation.
“Coronavirus has affected our works as our audiences aren’t working and we can’t host live shows which is what puts food on the table. I had to cancel my shows in the UAE because of this natural disaster so my band and I are now stuck at home.
“Also, there’s no fund in Zimbabwe that’s supposed to relieve artistes so we’re in quite a fix,” said Wataffi.
He, however, said his main focus now is to try and raise awareness on coronavirus using his social media accounts.
Umahlekisa Comedy Club director Ntando Van Moyo said as a coping measure, he was telling his jokes online from his Cowdray Park home, while raising awareness.
“I’m totally staying home and even my children are only allowed to play in the yard. Career- wise, I’m only sticking to online content and the most unfortunate thing is that the cancellations adversely affected our Umahlekisa Anniversary celebrations,” said Moyo.
He said although he is trying to keep people entertained online, most cannot keep up with him as data is generally expensive. “Data is the biggest challenge as most people are having challenges following our online content regularly. For me, I have enough for the next two months. But after that, with no shows, I don’t know what will happen.”
Dance groups such as Ezimnyama are keeping in touch as a group through social media.
“It’s not easy to cope in this situation but as we go, I’m sure we’ll manage. We’re used to living our lives as a group and spending our time together, sharing ideas for example.
“But, as we value the lives of our group members, we’ve encouraged them to stay indoors and also adhere to all measures of precaution to prevent the spread of the virus within our communities. We’re therefore exploring ideas via WhatsApp and Facebook because these social tools are important. By the time we meet we’ll be having more scripts for theatrical productions as we can’t sit down and do nothing,” said a spokesperson.
DJ Liz, who gave birth to a baby girl last year said the pandemic has scared her, although she is not letting it hamper her as she is working from home.
“Truth be told, I’m scared. It’s not easy as sitting at home has affected a lot of my daily activities and obviously my plans. For now, I’m doing most of my work from home in order to keep my career alive. I only go out when it’s necessary,” said DJ Liz.
In the diaspora, Austria-based musician Vusa Mkhaya said he was on day 11 of self-isolation.
“I’m self-isolating and today is day number 11. Luckily, I have a home studio so I’ve been busy recording new music and doing a lot of song writing as well,” said Mkhaya yesterday.
UK-based gospel musician, Carole Nyakudya said: “It’s a challenging time for everyone, but we’re praying and trusting that God will intervene. I’m doing quite a number of things just to keep my family and I positive during this period.”
Fortunately for her, she embraced online platforms a long time back so she is still reaching out to people with ease.
“I’m continuing with my work with Zimbolive TV and it helps that we’re an online television portal, so we keep putting out content. I’d like to encourage people to have hope because after this crazy ride, new and wonderful things will evolve so everyone must keep a positive spirit, even on these challenging days and know that better days lie ahead,” Nyakudya said.
As of yesterday, the cases of coronavirus were close to 500 000 with over 22 000 deaths and over 117 000 recoveries worldwide. In Zimbabwe, three cases had been recorded with one fatality while in South Africa, 709 cases had been recorded with no death.