The 2016 edition of Shoko Festival came and passed. Yes, passed! There are not much remnants of Shoko conversations on the Twitter streets, except a few late retweets and some delayed picture uploads. Most people from ‘South of Samora’ don’t even know what Shoko Festival is; all they know is AKA was in Zimbabwe. This was supposed to be one of the biggest festivals this year but it allowed its major acts to eclipse the festival itself. The only talk circulating is of how AKA slayed at a show. Which show? Who hosted that show? Shoko Festival did not build its relevance up to a point where people talk of the festival and not only of its acts.
The Hub UnConference was the only event I would applaud for consistency. All the presentations were well attended and this may be because the audience was enticed by the prospect of free WI-FI and Burgers! Whichever the case it was a success which may not be said for all other Shoko Festival events. The same can be said also for Peace in the Hood which was held in Chitungwiza as the closing event. It was well attended. Well, because it was for free and Judgement Yard was playing. Which sane person in Chitungwiza would not want to miss that?!
The first day was not so bad, but the lack of an audience at the afternoon shows was really alarming. The poetry slams and very talented performances by school kids were stuff the general public could have enjoyed if the ticket prices had been more ‘economically friendly’. Due to all this only the major acts at the King Pinn stage qualified as the highlights of the festival. Winky D and AKA brought the house down and Tamy really brought it to the crowd. But the real question is, is Shoko Festival a musical festival or an urban arts festival?!
The second day was the major mess for Shoko Festival. The crowd was virtually non-existent in the afternoon which was very disappointing considering that it was a Saturday. The majority of the people in the venue were either the media or the performers and not forgetting the event staff.
The evening wasn’t so different either. The audience was not much compared to the first day’s evening audience, only to prove the fact that people came only for AKA and no one cared about the festival. Donovan Goliath who was the main Comedy act was long forgotten even before Jah Prayzah got to the stage. What’s the case here?! No offence to foreign acts but how much time did Mooyh need for their sound check? These guys stretched their sound check for ages and killed Bryan K’s set meaning each and every other set following was in trouble. Bryan K did a few songs and Mooyh started their set. These guys stretched their set, ate into the comedy segment and then forced Donovan Goliath to give us a very cheap performance for someone who travelled over 1000km for the show. Sharky was also a victim as his set was cut too.
Now with this type of a mess it’s easy to pin it on funding right? Wrong. That’s too easy an answer. Speaking of which considering HIFA’s sabbatical one would have expected Shoko Festival to capitalise and to take the centre stage. But, sorry, they aren’t ready and there is way more to do in terms of taking over the internet and tapping into their acts’ fan bases!
As a critical fan of Shoko Festival I do hope that #Shoko2017 will be better organized and with equal attention to all the different creative sectors, and so I wait.
By the way, I did not discuss Winky, Ammara, AKA and Jah Prayzah’s performances because I’m sure you’ve already read about how brilliant they were in 140 characters and more.