One of the great things about being home is seeing how proud your fellow man is of their home. A lot of things bring people together and for the most part of Zimbabwe, Chibuku brings people together. I have only taken a sip of the stuff and I gotta say, it ain’t a pumpkin ale locally brewed in the Western Cape. It’s traditional beer and the backbone of a get-together for Zimbabwean men. Having spent a day amoungst the Zimbabwean man in Ruwa (a progressing town 10mins outside of Harare), I realised people love tradition.
Chibuku Road To Fame is a campaign created by Chibuku and the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe, that goes around the country and bands perform hoping to win and be drawn for the national final. You could call it Idols less the scratching-of-the-chalkboard voices and the overly dramatic panel. It’s a really great campaign that Zimbabwe needs. It has been running for a couple of years and it seems to be getting better and better. The fans love it, the bands rock the stage and the Chibuku fffffllllllloooooowwwwwwssssssss.
The artists were really good and owned the atmosphere. Mesmerised fans as they were in a trance to the performers on the stage and the best part was (forgive me for what I’m about to say) being in the gents and hearing fans connecting on an emotional level to the lyrics of a song. Music transcends through the air, fuses with the Chibuku and you have the most entertained crowd in the country. And this was only Ruwa, I could only imagine what it was like in other cities like Bulawayo.
As the day went on, the crowd got happier, and the entertainment was on peak. People had to dance for a free bottle of Chibuku. I tell you, I saw people bust a move and the crowd were the judges. The crowd would shout “SUPER” and the dancer will stay and move onto the next round. If they shouted “GAUYE” (loosely translated: he must come back to us in the crowd) the dancer would have to get off the stage. The funniest part was when the MCs made the dancer repeat what the crowd just said. So best believe, you knew if you failed to dance. I guess this was Zimbabwe’s version of the gladiator ring. And they were ruthless! But Chibuku was so awesome, every participant got one. The joy on their faces, WOW!
Not only was there a dance off but there was a grand draw. A lorry pulled up with one trailer filled with entry forms. When they say the odds are a million to one, you really can’t see how tough those odds are until you see a lorry pull up. Cash prizes were up for grabs and this was not an automated system. Members of the crowd were randomly selected to hop into the trailer and pick an entry form. The Chibuku in the man was the independent electoral committee – there was no rigging. I can guarantee that!
The highlight of the entire event was when the Zimbabwean legend, Alick Macheso, arrived! The crowd went wild, people from outside poured into the venue and the event really came alive. Those that were sleeping were resurrected from their slumbers, and they came alive in a big way. And a legend like Macheso knows how to entertain the crowd. The crowd went from 100 people to roughly 300 in an instant. I saw a guy standing in the front blink, and he was in the middle of the sea of Macheso fans. Did he care? No! Chibuku in one hand, phone in the other and adding his vocals to Macheso’s guitar. He was euphoric!
I have seen talented artists perform live and they are really outstanding at what they do. But when you watch a legend, things are completely different. The highlight for me was when Macheso grabbed a Chibuku bottle, and jammed his guitar with it. I tell you, it was music! Not this “Show me your dab” type of music, it was music. And hearing music is rare so it is easy to pick up! Macheso just owned it, natural, easy and in control. Did not miss a beat, got the crowd’s attention and he really did capture hearts. Flawless! He had me thinking about the days I played the piano (nearly 20 years ago) and how listening to music is the most beautiful thing you could ever do for yourself.
In the current situation of the country, seeing Zimbabweans enjoying their culture and their traditions makes me feel good. It was definitely the Chibuku effect with an added performance by Zimbabwe’s very own “Axe-Man”! People escaped in the day and fell into a world of pure bliss. A comforting feeling for them that really made them forget their problems and zone into the world Chibuku had created. Happiness!
There are more venues to hit, more bands to see and more Chibuku to be shared. With the grand finals next month, I really do believe this is a great campaign. Not because it involves drinking, but due to its ability to bring people together.
I strongly suggest checking out one of the day’s event. You will be caught up in the moment. For updates, check out their Facebook page.
This year’s final will be held at Glamis Arena in Harare on the 29th of September.
Cheers to Chibuku!