They were all there. The bureaucrats, academics, film industry professionals, media hacks, students and the corporate types – all suited up. Oh and there was some of Africa’s nascent talent drawn from all the countries from within Southern Africa. They took turns on the night of October the 11th to present performances that ranged from good to sublime.
By Admire Kudita
According to Nyiko Shinguri, regional director for Multichoice Africa, speaking at the event, “Until the lion writes its own story, the hunter will always tell the best stories. Africa lives in us. We are nurturing the young lions.”
The occasion was the launch of the Multi Choice Talent Factory Academy of Southern Africa which was held at the Zambia Institute of Mass Communication, an independent professional media training trust and heritage site in the heart of Lusaka. Zambia’s Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services, Dora Siliya, opened the academy.
The speechifying by dignitaries could not, however, detract from the sheer brilliance of an entertainment programme at which various young but potent performing artists sourced from represented countries alternately served up some of the most awe inspiring stage acts. The acrobatic team from Malawi had gravity defying trickery using their bodies with jaw dropping dexterity leaping and contorting their way through hoops and over each other. You had to be there.
The Mozambican duo of twin Elton and Elson dapperly dressed came on with such vocal finesse the crowd sat rapt whilst listening. The ditty was called ‘Amen’ and it was rendered in honour of their mother. Their vibrato heavy harmonies assisted by the electronic piano as a piquant melodic counterpoint, blended seamlessly. Sometimes artists have to beg for crowd participation. These ones did not. The crowd whistled and clapped without exhortation.
Others acquitted themselves remarkably too, such as the girl called Katiriana from Angola who sang a rendition of Oleta Adams’ ‘Get here’. She channeled some of the world’s famous musical chanteuse of the ilk of Mariah Carey with her contralto voice soaring through the gilded night of a hundred stars.
There were others. Special mention must go to Probeatz, the Zimbabwean beat boxer who brought the actual drama to an unrelenting night of joi de vivre. The crowd’s joy quotient surged as he deftly used his solo voice as a percussive instrument. Probeatz’s showmanship and skill was peerless.
Against a collage backdrop showcasing some of Zimbabwe’s tourist destinations, Probeatz rocked the show with his superlative crowd engagement. That vital interplay with an audience is the stuff that performing artists live for. The music from his ‘beat box’ was too realistic. Then he did Zimbabwe’s national anthem of great with his beat box still. There is a type of excellence and skillfulness that has the effect of moving the hardiest in our midst to burst with pride.
Beat boxing lends its origins to the hip hop sub culture, originally from the South Bronx which is a cosmopolitan melting pot of a ghetto. As the genre of hip hop evolved, young people of Jamaican and US origin began to build a sub culture, which has now grown ubiquitous to a point of mutating from region to region into a multi-billion dollar industry. In beat boxing, the human voice is used to conjure up a literal drum and bass sound. Thus, when Probeatz commanded the audience to ‘imagine everything’, he carried all and sundry through a virtual sound scape.
In the end, Probeatz was one of the night’s stand out kids. But he was not alone on stage for the curtain call as the entire cast closed the show together. Thankfully, all the young African gifted ones from the countries represented, understood the vitality of the moment and knew they had been blessed enough to be cultural ambassadors. Those kinds of moments are as rare as meteors in a firmament.