By Maynard Manyowa
Birmingham stages inaugural Zimbabwe British Entertainment Awards
COMMUNITY LEADERS have hailed the launch of entertainment awards aimed at honouring the work of black Zimbabweans living in the United Kingdom.
At least 8 Zimbabweans, 3 companies and 1 Facebook group were conferred during the inaugural Zimbabwe British Entertainment Awards (ZimBrits) held at the Hilton Metropole in Birmingham on February 1.
The classy affair, a brainchild of Zimbabwean promoter Kudzaishe Chipadza and Ruth Dhliwayo claims it ‘aims to build and unify the expat entertainment industry in the United Kingdom.’
There were 75 nominees across different categories, ranging from Best Female DJ, Best Dancer, Event of the Year, and incredibly, Social Media Group of the Year in a move to honour the efforts of social media influencers in shaping the dissemination and marketing of entertainment related content.
Although the awards offered no monetary reward, organisers of the event told The Voice that recognition of hard work was extremely important.
“Expat artists are always up against it. They compete with local artists from back home, yet they service the needs of the black community here in the UK. They hardly qualify for awards back home and they are not recognised that much there, but they contribute so much into communities here in the UK, performing and entertaining at UK events.”, said chief organiser Kudzai Chipadza.
Chipadza added that he hoped the awards would bring the entire immigrant entertainment industry together, provide a platform for networking, and provide some form of value and motivation for artists, performers and companies.
“Our awards are a pioneering event which looks to bring people together, celebrate them, but more importantly give birth to a new culture among Zimbabweans in the UK. A culture where we celebrate our own people, honour them, and support them,” he added.
The night belonged to Matipa Makore, a young dancer who scooped an award, before sending the entire crowd into a frenzy when she performed her song-dance rendition of Beyoncé’s hit song, Diva.
Mel Chihera, popularly known as DJ Mel walked away with the Best Female DJ award, fighting off stiff competition from Tatenda Chokufa (DJ TeeChooks), a female DJ who is equally popular in the UK.
Soon after her award, DJ Mel was in an upbeat mood. “I appreciate the award. It means a lot to me. But from here its back to work. I have bookings this coming weekend and I intend to put on a show and keep striving for the best.”
She reserved kind words for those who lost out to her. “The industry is tough and male dominated. All these ladies who were nominated are doing amazing work,” she added.
Nominations for all awards were drawn up from the public, and an online voting platform used to determine who scooped prizes.
The show was sponsored by money transfer giant Mukuru, who recently grabbed headlines in South Africa for donating thousands of pounds to a star refugee student who broke high school academic records but was unable to attend university due to financial constraints.
Nyasha Mupfeka, Mukuru’s executive, said that his company had funded the awards because they believe they “brought people from different circles together.
“We believe this seed will continue to grow and offer opportunities for different sectors to work together, fostering oneness in our Zimbabwean community.”
Mupfeka said Mukuru would continue to sponsor noble ideas and fund community initiatives in the UK.
“We will continue to engage charities, churches and other organisations, support them and develop lasting partnerships. Communities ought to live like family. Mukuru is more than just money transfer, we are a family.”
Community leaders in the UK have also praised the awards and said celebration of black excellence by black leaders was overdue.
Todd Maforimbo, the leader of the British Zimbabwe Community and human rights activist, said the awards were bigger than the event itself.
“Immigrant communities go through a lot. But the one thing that has hindered black people in the UK is the lack of unity of purpose, and a spirit of oneness. To see my community come together is significant. Next year will be bigger,” he said.
An estimated 500,000 Zimbabweans were living in the UK as of 2006, making for a sizeable community capable of running very profitable inter-nationality micro-economies.
The awards will be held again at a date yet to be announced in February 2021.