IT’S Christmas Eve.
The booming sound off the state-of-the-art PA system is heard in the serene area of Chikurumadziwa, about 30km from Machakaire village in Makanda area, Wedza South Constituency.
The sound often heard on this day for consecutive years was last heard in 2019 before the outbreak of Covid-19.
For the past two years, Christmas celebrations have been ordinary in this area, resorting to default settings, with growth points and local shops regaining their statuses as hosts to many.
The booming sound was welcomed by people from all ages as they prepared to renew their romance with “happiness”. The young men from all corners of the constituency had been saving money to spend while the young women had their new outfits stashed somewhere safe awaiting this day.
Of course, the annual event, Wedza Arts Festival, has given birth to relationships as well as breaking marriages — it's a story for another day.
Wedza Arts Festival, popularly known as KwaTinmac, is a major music event that has become popular in Wedza District and the whole of Mashonaland East Province.
It is the brainchild of businessman, Wedza South legislator, Arts and Sports Deputy minister and Zanu PF's national youth affairs secretary Tinoda Machakaire. The music fiesta is held at an open space adjacent to his rural home.
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Scores of haulage and UD trucks were seen wounding their way to the venue from different places across the district including Chikurumadziwa. Some people were ferried from as far as Zvidhuri, Chigondo, Matukwana and Chisasike among others.
The music event has also attracted a number of top artistes and on this day, sungura icon Alick Macheso and Jah Prayzah were to perform. In this part of the area, seeing Jah Prayzah and Macheso live on stage is a memorable if not a lifetime achievement.
With these musicians often booked at other joints on Christmas Day back in the city, they usually perform briefly in the afternoon hence even the elderly get a chance to see them on stage. From gospel musician Dorcas Moyo to dancehall sensation, they all did well on the stage.
The atmosphere became electric as Macheso and his Orchestra Mberikwazvo took over the stage. Baba Sharo did not disappoint. His bass guitar-playing prowess was a marvel to watch.
His stage antics spiced up with chants from Jonasi Kasamba while dancer Majuice exhibiting his skills is all what the Wedzarians needed. Macheso was accompanied to the stage by Machakaire and a number of Zanu PF officials.
It was smooth, there was no resistance. The media personel especially videographers and photographers were busy capturing the moments.
Macheso, Machakaire and Zanu PF Mashonaland East provincial youth league chairperson Isaac Tasikani all denounced drug and substance abuse. The Third Generation Band got on stage some minutes after Macheso.
The band started playing waiting for their leader and vocalist Jah Prayzah to come up to the stage. A silver Range Rover arrived, the lanky musician neatly dressed and surrounded by both heavily and less built men made his was past the VIP area to the stage.
Accompanied by Machakaire, Jah Prayzah got to the stage. He didn't grab the microphone as the routine — someone whispered something to him.
He got off the stage and accompanied by his security and Zanu PF officials, the Sungano singer was taken to a tent where he was made to meet and greet the traditional leaders among them Chief Ruzane.
His band stopped playing briefly. Upon returning to the stage, and unlike Macheso, Jah Prayzah barred journalists and politicians from accessing the stage.
This was the moment which the state broadcaster, ZTV, was waiting for but the security team had none of it. The Zanu PF officials were angered by the move where the ZBC cameraperson was barred from filming the event. They also wanted Jah Prayzah's performance to be aired on national television but that was not it.
Efforts to engage the security personel and even Jah Prayzah himself to allow ZTV and other journalists to access the stage were in vain. Instead, the musician had brought his own media team.
One of Jah Prayzah's security team pulled a sucker punch. He told journalists one of the two reasons why the band didn't want ZTV and other media houses to film his performance.
"Jah Prayzah is a brand, we now value what is aired. We are here for an arts festival and here we can be associated with politics. If you want footage, our media team will give you," said the member.
Journalists and the politicians tried to engage the musician's long time ally Mabla 10 to allow filming of the performance but in vain.
The team insisted that their media team would give the journalists footage if they really wanted it. And boom, another reason came.
One of the security personel said Jah Prayzah wasn't feeling well, a bit weak, hence no need for his performance to be filmed — all to protect his identity and brand.
"Jah (Prayzah) is not feeling well, he just came from the hospital. He is having problems with his voice box. He is not fully fit, you can't film his performance because he is not at his best," said the personel.
Both journalists and politicians took a back seat but thanks to the ICT era-some had to use their mobile phones to film. There was anger in the VIP arena and discussions were held on the musician's move to refuse ZTV the opportunity to film his performance.
To the politicians, it was mere sabotage and to the journalists it was sheer arrogance. The organisers, who wanted to hype the event with Jah Prayzah as the guest artiste had to resort to sungura ace Mark Ngwazi.
Ngwazi delivered. The two day non-stop music fiesta continued into Boxing Day. The revellers endured the cold nights as they enjoyed this show of their lifetime.
Some women even brought blankets and slept with their children in the open only to be part of the must fiesta. It was a successful music extravaganza, perhaps the most attended event of the year.
But, the story is on how Jah Prayzah humbled the media and personnel and Zanu PF officials.