The 21st NAMA Awards (2023) Ceremony: A Review

It was the night of nights for everything music, film, theatre, dance and all else that falls within the definition of the arts in Zimbabwe. It was the 21st NAMA Awards. The culminating event of over 20 years dedicated to honouring and uplifting the Zimbabwean Arts. 

HICC played host to the event as it usually does and the red carpet was rolled out for government officials, socialites, the very best in our arts industry, and my mother, courtesy of VIP tickets from my good friend Jean.

We arrived fashionably late, the emphasis being on fashion because we dressed up. The afternoon session had already seen MC Tatts and DJ Zimtronix perform, followed by the Red Carpet Show featuring Herman, Poptain and the particularly stunning on the night, Mai Titi.

The 21st NAMA Awards (2023) Ceremony: A Review
Mai Titi

The men were decked out in suits and designer outfits that were a kaleidoscope of colour but yet they still paled in comparison to the gowns the women wore on the night. To call the NAMAs a red carpet affair wouldn't do them justice, for it felt like we were centre stage at Zimbabwe's fashion week. It was couture everywhere you looked and that truly proclaimed it as a night for the stars.

The 21st NAMA Awards (2023) Ceremony: A Review
Some of the stars in attendance 
Image: Twitter/DivasIncOnline

There was a rather sombre mood at HICC as the ceremony began. Partly because people were still trickling but even when the show was in full flow the attendance seemed lower than expected. Understandable since the possibility of Cyclone Freddy reaching Zimbabwe was still on everyone's mind. However, as they say, the show must go on and what a show Zimbabwe's finest artists gave us.

The 21st NAMA Awards (2023) Ceremony: A Review
Hope Masike

The 2023 NAMA Awards were a true representation of what Zimbabwe's music industry has to offer. From Gospel to Rhumba, to Afropop, to Mbira, to the genre of the moment Zimhiphop. It was a feast of sonic pleasure for the eardrums, with new twists to some of our favourites and medleys that left one in awe.

Hosted on the night by Gemma Griffiths, Chief Koti and Charlene Mangweni-Furusa, it was a night of memorable moments. There was a long list of friends and acquaintances,  alongside my mother's possible future (No one knows for future) daughter-in-law among the nominees. It was a night of my mum waiting on the cue from me to applaud and ululate.

The 21st NAMA Awards (2023) Ceremony: A Review
Juntal performing on stage

The HipHop Capital was well represented as Asaph burst on stage alongside Juntal, in a performance that ignited the crowd. Rap and Rhumba were blended together seamlessly, almost as if they always belonged. 

The NAMAs finally recognised what we've all known for a while now, that King Kandoro is one of the funniest comedians around. As the comedian received the Outstanding Comedian Award, he couldn't help but take a parting shot at the Permanent Secretary for Information Nick Mangwana. Kandoro expressed his gratitude to Nick, saying without him his career wouldn't be here and that brought about a fair bit of laughter from the crowd as Nick Mangwana himself was in attendance.

Although lagging behind in a few regards, the NAMAs are taking steps in moving with the times. One such step has been the Outstanding Social Media Skits Award. This year it went to Theophilus Chigumira aka Mai Kirifodhi, and when everyone in the crowd shouted out his tagline as he received his award, I felt rather uncultured in my silence. There's however still a lot of room for improvement in recognising content creators and their work. 

The awards went on without much fanfare or ceremony. Somehow the presentations felt flat and most of the crowd's excitement erupted during the interludes when artists were performing. Kuda Brian Bwititi is absolutely soaked at the moment as he won the Outstanding Screen Production (Television) and Outstanding Screen Production (Short Length Film) awards back to back.

Ishan had everyone on their feet with a beautiful rendition of Lola and awards arrived at the music categories, with surprises, long-coming moments and almost unanimous decisions. Freeman won his first ever NAMA for Outstanding Male Musician and he quickly doubled his tally as he took home the Outstanding Album of the Year a few moments later. The entire auditorium erupted with a near-deafening sound every time Freeman's name was announced. His first NAMA had been long in coming but absolutely deserved, for one of Zimdancehall's most consistent artists.

Zimhiphop finally had its NAMA moment, or should I say moments rather, which started with Leo Magozz taking home the Outstanding Song of the Year with Fire Emoji. A few years ago it would've been unimaginable to think a Zimhiphop would be Song of the Year at the NAMAs. The award was followed shortly by a crowning Zimhiphop performance that stood out as one of the performances of the night. Featuring Andrea the Vocalist, Saintfloew, Leo Magozz, Holy Ten and Voltz JT.

Enough can't be said about Andrea's vocal gift, he opened up the medley that transitioned into Saintfloew's Silas Mavende and I thought I couldn't love that song more but I was proved wrong on the night. The band, alongside the backing vocalists and Saintfloew, delivered the most glorious rendition of Silas Mavende. It was a chorus of songs from everyone in attendance and the band in perfect harmony journeyed from Silas Mavende to the Fire Emoji.

Leo Magozz performing on stage 

At the sound of an emphatic "Handivhunduke" from Holy Ten, the entire crowd was lifted. The crowd had a moment for breath as it was a word for word, from Holy Ten to Leo Magozz and then Voltz JT.

The Special Awards came next. Davison Maruziva received the Arts Service Award, while the Arts Personality of the Year went to Dominic Benhura and Barbara Makhalisa Nkala was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

The 21st NAMA Awards (2023) Ceremony: A Review
Freeman performing on stage
Image: Twitter/namaszim

As The NAMAs celebrated 21 editions, ExQ was also celebrating 21 years in music. The music star was honoured for his years of consistency in the industry and the speeches were capped off by ExQ coming onstage to perform a medley of his hits. He was supported by Freeman, Tocky Vibes and Ammara Brown, as they went through some of their collaboration together. It was a night to appreciate the true art of music.

Theophilus Chigumira aka Mai Kirifodhi was onstage again to receive one of the big ones of the night the People's Choice Awards and that wrapped it up.

The 21st NAMA Awards (2023) Ceremony: A Review
Gemma Griffiths

I wanted more from the hosts on the night and the sound could've been better but it was certainly a great night in celebration of the arts. It's arguable if the 2022 edition was better, although I certainly found it more memorable but overall I love the trajectory the award show is on.

My biggest gripe with NAMA would have to simply be the lack of inclusion. A big of the arts and creative community is people with disability and hosting the biggest award show in the arts at an inaccessible venue leaves them out. Even HICC themselves should think about this. A Conference Centre of international standard surely can't be one without accessibility, especially in 2023. A little food for thought.

Greedysouth rating: 6.8/10

Enjoyed reading this entertainment news report? Support Greedysouth by buying the team a cup of coffee. Your support assists in the production of such quality reports. Thank you.

Post a Comment (0)
Previous Post Next Post