Jah Prayzah launching a new album? That has to be the talk of the town no matter what.
And so it was, as expected, where seemingly the whole of Harare had convened at 2 Kings Entertainment which hosted the must-attend gig of the year at the Harare International Conference Centre last Friday.
Expectedly so, there were rave reviews from a media that has all but painted an endlessly unholy, hedonistic, secular humanism and anthropolatory view of the man that is Jah Prayzah as if he were a god. One would be excused for thinking that were Jah Prayzah and The Pope in Rome to die on the same day and there was just one space left in the Vatican Grottoes beneath St Peter’s Basilica in Rome then the Pope would get a pauper’s burial while Jah Prayzah got pride of place beneath St Peter’s Square. He has been made the anointed of Zimbabwe’s arts industry. But fact is, 2 Kings did have a couple of howlers that threatened to draw winces from the patrons at the launch who were paying their way into the show.
For a start, the VIP price of $30 per person was a pain enough on the pocket of the patrons in an economy gasping for breath after select hours at the bottom of the economic ocean. But there were brave people who decided to go for the most expensive tickets on the day and parted with their $30 payments.
After all, you only get the best when you invest in the best. The povo, for $10, would be perched up in the sky with a bird’s eye view; their “punishment” for not being “oiled” enough to pay a little bit more and get a spot nearer Jah Prayzah. Yet the courtyard where the payments were to be made was treacherous. Littered with discarded bottles of cheap whiskey and gin as well as a myriad of broken glass fragments, 2 Kings presided over what was definitely a health and safety disaster waiting to happen.
Any skirmishes and the missiles in Basra, Afghanistan and Syria would have paled in comparison to what the potential war-zone outside the HICC could have descended into being. 2 Kings didn’t give a rats rear about clearing it. Those are, after all, the same guys that wanted to part with a paltry $50 in exchange for the live show services of local protégé Sniper Storm, so it would hardly be surprising that they would be stingy to ensure that the place is cleaned up for the safety of patrons.
They make the penny-pinching Shylock in the “Merchant of Venice” look like a philanthropic angel. The second challenge came when suddenly the Point Of Sale machines (POS) failed to work all of a sudden. The idea of plastic money had died away and it was either cash or transfer from bank account to Ecocash wallet and then finally an Ecocash transaction. Fair enough. Since cash was hardly an option (given that even reserve bank governor John Mangudya is also frantically looking for at least $20 bond notes in cash despite having signed the notes himself) Ecocash was the next viable option. Except nobody had been genius enough to display the short code on a banner outside instead of having the poor lady call out the short code over a million times in one night.
“We forgot to print the poster announcing the short code,” a 2 Kings official conceded rather sheepishly. Trust 2 Kings to want to save so much they didn’t print out a short code on a piece of bond paper! After the hell that was paying to enter, a sad phenomenon awaited inside as well. While there were barriers that separated the haves and the have nots, the former going to the VIP downstairs and the latter upstairs to their perch, it turned out the have nots had a better deal at $10.
A tiny “L” shaped cattle kraal was where all VIP ticket holders were being herded into while the rest of the space was reserved for the VVIPs. In the end, one could only regard the man of the moment Jah with the corner of their eye. At the end of the performance many must have left the venue cross-eyed in a case of strabismus, as the 2 Kings team went the extra mile to get money while squashing the “haves” into a space where they were breathing into each other’s mouths almost literally!
And so it was that the VIPs were looking at Jah Prayzah through a hoarding which looked more like the concentration camps in Hitler’s Germany. And to think that people had voluntarily paid through the nose to be huddled into these sad tiny spaces probably made this the most expensive voluntary concentration camp in the history of the arts, thanks to 2 Kings. Up in the perches, the “have nots” were swaying freely with much space to dance, breathe and sing along like birds than their elitist peers downstairs. Which proved the point that sometimes less is more for sure! Thankfully, for the capitalist atrocities committed by 2 Kings, Jah Prayzah and the entire line-up did not commit any artistic genocide. He gave a polished act on the day and that soothed the hurt egos of the inmates in the concentration camp.
Needless to say, he shone like a Knight outside Buckingham Palace complete with a royal strip that made him look like a majestic guard for a monarch. Red and black was flawless for the soldier on the day! And for what the reigning promoters of the year 2 Kings messed up, Jah Prayzah answered for in his polished set as well as the beautiful display by the cameo artistes led by Oliver Mtukudzi who delivered beautifully on the day. At the end of the day, Jah Prayzah is on top of his game and not even the end of the world can blow out his current shining star.