When United Refineries CEO Busisa Moyo remarked during a Press conference that he would like to see Bulawayo follow in the footsteps of the likes of Hollywood and have what he termed Bulawayowood, there was an outbreak of laughter among those present.
Moyo had just pulled the ultimate coup de grace, having announced that Roil, a brand under United Refineries, would be the official sponsors of this year’s Bulawayo Arts Awards.
While there was amusement at the suggestion that Bulawayo’s arts scene could ever rival the titans of entertainment production in Los Angeles, those in attendance were eager to give this dreamer their ear and here what else he had to say.
When all is said and done, a man who announces that his company will fork out $20 000 from its coffers for an award ceremony is surely allowed to dream.
“We’re about Buy Zimbabwe and we’re about Buy Bulawayo. In addition to consuming products that are made outside, Nollywood, Bollywood, Hollywood, let’s also think of Bulawayowood although I don’t know whether that makes sense.
“Let’s consider our own artistes. In African culture we’ve got a unique thing called cousin brothers or cousin sisters. I’m sure that out there you’ve got a cousin brother that’s involved in the production of a local product or arts material. Therefore they’re all looking to us as a public as a market,” he said.
In a city where artistes usually complain about lack of support from the corporate world and where artistes themselves have been accused of failing to grab the initiative or innovate, the Bulawayo Arts Awards has been a remarkable illustration of both.
The usual tug-of-wars or name calling between artistes has been largely absent while business has shown its willingness to hold hands with the city’s arts scene. It is this melting pot of business and the arts that United Refineries wishes to stir with authority.
“Innovation sometimes requires you to combine two unique things, things that normally don’t live in the same room. And as a Bulawayo company and as the people of Bulawayo we’re innovating to cross-pollinate two sectors of the economy, the creative arts and the industry. There’re similarities between the industry and the creative arts. We’re all at that part of our evolution where we would like to promote the consumption of locally made products,” he said.
While United Refineries had come on board for the awards specifically, Moyo said the partnership was an indication of the direction that he hoped to see the rest of the country taking.
“All great nations began this way, consuming their own products then outsiders joined them. This is after their products have improved quality and improved standard. So this unique combination that we’re witnessing is a journey in the life of the Bulawayo Arts Awards and a journey in the life of United Refineries.
“Sometimes indlela ziyabambana and today our paths have crossed. We’re joining forces to make a clarion call and encourage fellow Bulawayans and fellow Zimbabweans to consume that what we produce,” he said.
Meanwhile, the leading weekly newspaper in the region, Sunday News, has joined the awards as the official media partner.
“We are a Bulawayo-based newspaper though with a footprint across the country and we felt there is no better way of showing our endorsement of this beautiful project to uplift arts in the region than being the official media partner to spread the word about these awards,” said Sunday News editor, Limukani Ncube.