Home » Arts & Culture » Freshlyground Deserved Grounding

Some at Hifa may be genuinely wondering why the Zimbabwean bureaucracy did nothing to expedite the paperwork to allow South African music group Freshlyground to enter the country and perform at the final show of this year’s festival, and in fact why all the delays meant that the group ended up being denied entry to Zimbabwe.

The puzzlement will come from what has happened at some past festivals, when there has been high-end political satire performed without anyone in authority blinking, and what happens almost every week when a Zimbabwean newspaper is quite likely to publish a cartoon poking fun at the President or publishing a column or article that does pretty much the same.

But there is a huge difference.

Those who have performed political satire locally, or who have made their point in a Zimbabwean newspaper, are Zimbabweans. Freshlyground, with their very silly and juvenile video clip a couple of years ago, were not. And because they were not, their clip was not even funny as they claimed, it was just stupid.

There is not just more leeway for a Zimbabwean citizen to criticise the Government, since after all we have all the constitutional right to do so, there is a far greater chance that such criticism will be relevant and if someone is going to try and be funny, then a citizen is likely to be funny, rather than indulging in nursery school humour. The citizen will know both the target and the culture intimately.

This is why most people criticising a foreign country drop the humour and just express their opinions.

This newspaper has been quite strident in its criticism of several countries, and their presidents and prime ministers, over the years. But we, like most in Zimbabwe, serve our criticism plain. We do not make stupid jokes, and like most in Zimbabwe are embarrassed when the occasional Zimbabwean does try out some juvenile humour when criticising foreigners.

And we do not really mind that much when outsiders make their plain, if g, criticism of Zimbabwe.

Several who have done so have been able to not just visit Zimbabwe but even work in Zimbabwe.

If they give the impression that they care, and they are not just using Zimbabwe to aance their own careers, we can take it and if we disagree we will argue right back.

Hifa will have noticed themselves that the ticket sales for that final show were not very wonderful the finale has attracted far larger crowds in the past. And part of that fall in sales was due to using Freshlyground.

Our mail bag, both when the silly video came out and over the last few days, has seen comments from people who are unlikely to have ever voted for President Mugabe, but who feel that Freshlyground should not have a warm welcome in this country.

The festival is now a firm fixture on the Zimbabwean cultural calendar.

The country and people benefit from exposure to foreign artistes, as well as seeing a welcome addition of some local talent. And some art will involve issues that people will see as political, even if it is only general like denouncing the uncaring rich or, for that matter, the freckless poor.

But as we move into satire, and satire directed at specific individuals or groups, this will only work when it is someone from Zimbabwe and even then it will usually only work if that person is clever, rather than juvenile.

Satire does not travel well.

Source : The Herald

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