Coronavirus

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6min2470

Like money, social media has a funny way of peeling the layers off a person, revealing the individual hiding behind the flexing or generosity. It’s said that with great power, comes great responsibility and it’s in how one utilizes that “power” which tells you wassup.

This is in light of Lasizwe Dambuza’s distasteful post in which he patronised people he supposedly bought electricity for, saying they should use ugesi weR100 wisely. As if he was dangling his phallus, he included notifications from his banker about the purchases he made with each person’s meter number in the open for his 637000+ followers to see yesterday morning.

Lasizwe's post. From Lasizwe's Twitter
Lasizwe’s post. From Lasizwe’s Twitter

While some of his followers lashed-out at Khanyi Mbau’s younger brother, he was equally applauded by people who said he’s acts will encourage other celebrities to do the same. Later in the evening he tried, cringingly so, to amend for the callous behaviour in the morning with a post of himself using his electricity wisely, by switching off lights he doesn’t need. This at a time when Eskom isn’t so desperate for allies.

I don’t know Lasizwe personally, but I can only assume the naivety of youth bullied him into a corner. But influencer philanthropy has become commonplace in South Africa with the growing number of social media users in the country. Thus presenting levels to this giving-game being played.

 

Social Distancing at the Ekurhuleni Food Bank launch. Somhale Foundation
Social Distancing at the Ekurhuleni Food Bank launch. Somhale Foundation

While Lasizwe might be viewed as a boorish philanthropic influencer, Somizi Mhlongo and his lover Mohale Motaung would be seen as the classier version. The newly-weds launched their Somhale Foundation last week and by Sunday they were in Ekurhuleni giving out grocery vouchers worth R500 to 400 families. The foundation has already partnered with government, with the Somhale Foundation present when Ekurhuleni Mayor Mzawandile Masina and Premier of Gauteng David Makhura launched the Ekurhuleni Food Bank.

Their collaboration with the government further helps in distributing necessities to families in need. It doesn’t reek of erraticness, which often leaves recipients of the goodwill feeling less than human. There’s planning.

Mohale giving out food vouchers. Somhale Foundation
Mohale giving out food vouchers. Somhale Foundation

One could blame them for publicising the charity work, but what’s interesting is that they’ve encouraged Somizi’s three million Instagram followers to donate whatever they have-be it blankets, food, clothes- to the Somhale Foundation so that they’ll disperse in the areas they’ve identified. You have to admit it though, if you believe the couple is doing this to boost their egos, they’re sure putting in a lot of work.

Bonang Matheba’s Twitter timeline is littered with gratitude from people she’s given grocery vouchers to. This is the generic nauseating stuff of celebrities on social media. It does not look sincere when throngs of people on her TL detail their struggle, like beggars, looking for the mighty Queen B to come to the rescue. In her defence she did encourage people to Directly Message her, but it’s tasteless to have those exchanges on social media for people to see.

But it’s something we have to make peace with, the growing number of pseudo-donors because such acts are just consequences of living in a capitalist society where the environment encourages people to put themselves before others…even when giving to others.

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8min4411

In light of how the Coronavirus has gripped most of the globe, it’s more than understandable why people are being bullied by panic, anxiety and a legit sense of unease when they think of the ramifications of this outbreak. But Back To The City festival founder and organiser Osmic Menoe sees the glass half-full, despite being forced to postpone the annual Freedom Day festival to October this year.

Okamalumekoolkat performing on the Redbull stage at Back To The City. Photo by Bonginkosi Ntiwane
Okamalumekoolkat performing on the Redbull stage at Back To The City. Photo by Bonginkosi Ntiwane

“We had already bought [plane] tickets for the international artists, we had paid the security companies. We do our wristbands in China, so that was already paid for. There’s a project we’ve been working on, we’ve printed CDs and vinyl’s in America…there’s a sizable amount of money already that’s been spent, but the beauty about it is that none of it is a loss because all we just had to do was shift things you know, because these are suppliers we’ve always been working with,” Osmic tells Tha Bravado.

“All we had to do, was to say ‘look, just shift delivery to a later date. Security companies we’ve already paid you, instead of rendering the services in April, you now rendering the services in October’ and another blessing in disguise is that, six month later is another festival-it’s another Back to The City for 2021, so it also enabled us to renegotiate certain contracts and certain deals…and a month later [after October] is the Hip Hop Awards. That also assists in terms of renegotiating things. Yes, there’s money that’s been lost but at the same time, shit happens man.”

Ritual Media, which Osmic owns is behind BTTC, the South African Hip Hop Awards and the South African Hip Hop Museum.  Drudgery is probably not the word to describe the work Ritual Media staff will go through, but they’ll be breaking their sweat in the next 12 months, looking at the proximity of their projects.

For over a decade thousands of youth have religiously gathered in Johannesburg’s Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown, to celebrate Freedom Day through Hip Hop. In what was supposed to be the 14th installment of the Back to The City International Hip Hop festival in a few weeks, will now take place on October 10th.

“Obviously we looked at the month of September, we thought there’s Heritage day which is the 24th possibly a lot of people will be doing stuff then. We obviously looked at June and we thought to ourselves chances are, the lockdown might either still be in effect or coming to an end. So for us, seven months away from the said date made a little bit more sense, because number one we’re able to spread messages about our new change and number two, we’re able to make sure that we’re in a safe zone.” October 10th also happens to be World Mental Heal Day.

The festival’s purpose is to celebrate Hip-Hop and youth culture through an afternoon/evening of live performances, graffiti and exhibitions with the aim of bringing the youth back to the city, in Joburg. The show features artists representing different corners of South African Hip Hop. This unique youth event is a first of its kind in South Africa. The showcase is always full of activities such as a mini educational Summit, live performances, skateboarding, BMXing, live graffiti art, merchandising and exhibitions, all under the bridge at the corners of Henry Nxumalo and Bree streets.

A skater at Back To The City. Photo by Bonginkosi Ntiwane
CAPTURED ONA BOARD: A skater at Back To The City. Photo by Bonginkosi Ntiwane

This year’s BTTC was understood to be the penultimate after Osmic announced that end of the festival’s run a few years ago. There was incontestable conviction about the festival not ever happening, with fans even being sold end of day ticket packages until a beverage broke the thirst. “Hennessy is now our official naming partner, hence the festival is called Hennessy Back To The City International Hip Hop festival. We’re joined at the hip for the next coming three years. For the fact that we’ve got someone [Hennessy] who believes in culture and whose been in culture for so long. It’s also something very new for them to partner with something that’s very large scale, you it’s an exclusive brand. It just goes to show how much they believe in African Hip Hop”

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9min3491

So someone took a shot of Oprah’s trademark spirited salvo of gift-giving to her audience and made a crass meme ridiculing artists, creatives, freelancers and entrepreneurs who find themselves in precarious positions because of the Coronavirus outbreak. It’s no joke, kuya nyiwa and kusazo nyiwa for a coupla months.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) more than 209,000 people have been infected by the Coronavirus and just below 10,000 people have died. These numbers are expected to rise, with countries such as the US and South Africa still in the early stages of this pandemic. Mzansi President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday announced a National state of Disaster, banning all large gatherings.

Oprah Winfrey meme
Oprah Winfrey meme

It has affected global finances, the sport industry and has forced politicians to unify. But the art and entertainment industry, which more often than not isn’t taken serious, has also taken a heavy blow that has left its contributors stressed about where the next pay cheque will come from.

“This is pretty much 80% of my income so it’s definitely been a major crisis to deal with,” says Akio, DJ and Creative Director at Kool Out. “I’ve had about 15 bookings cancelled for the 3 weeks next month and that includes 2 countries outside South Africa. Beyond that, everything has been considered “put on hold” since we don’t really know what’s going to happen. If it reaches into June, then I have to cancel my US tour and possibly my Europe tour in August.”

The DJ recently got back to South African after a series of gigs in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. “Getting back in was pretty smooth, but I was worried. I think the strictest measures only begin today [Wednesday]. Also, the country I was in isn’t high risk and only confirmed their first case on Monday.”

Actress Nyeleti Ndubane, whose show Alice In Wonderland at the Pieter Torien Theatre in Montecasino has been cancelled with only a week left in the production, admits she is panic mode. “What scares me the most is the fact that this current state of uncertainty that is affecting all areas of our lives is something we just have to live with ‘until further notice’. I’m a performer. This Corona situation is making it impossible for me to do what I love- and the worst part is that this will be my reality- until further notice…”

For Melanie Ramjee, a PR specialist at Tutone Communications the pandemic has forced her clients to postpone big events such as the Boys II Men South African tour as well as the Scorpion King Live concert which were both meant to take place next month.  “…business wise [I’m] beyond panic. There’s obviously no money coming in, my husband is also in entertainment and we both don’t have business insurance, so ja they’ll be overheads this month where we probably won’t make ends meet,” she says.

“I think people are not making light of it in the industry, maybe outside of the [art/entertainment] industry people don’t take it as serious. I’m in a few WhatsApp groups with publicists and another one with music industry females and everybody is super panicked record labels…all gigs have been cancelled- that means artists and DJs are not making any income. I think the ramifications are a lot longer than we think they are, I think even when we get on our feet and things have calmed down, because I just feel we’re on the first wave. I think when that does happen, people will be paying bills that they probably could not have paid for three months…umm, I think as much as South Africans do wanna have fun and we joke about stuff and everything is a laugh,  this is serious.”

For a patron, if a gig is cancelled or postponed there’s always an option of a refund. But event organisers are left in tatters if they’ve already paid deposits to artists set to perform, in addition to the money invested in marketing and promoting a gig.

“I think it’s different for different cases,” says Ramjee. “I can only talk for my shows. For Boys II Men, they won’t return the money because they were paid 50% upfront, we just postponed the event. I think a lot of events are postponed until further notice, so a lot of the artists will keep the 50%. I don’t know of any instances where artists have been asked back for the money. But definitely from the promoters side, they have to return refunds to the public, they will stand at a loss if the event doesn’t happen in future. The return of funds, depends on your contract, really the truth is, there won’t be this sorta clause in the contract because it’s an act of God per se. People are gonna have to review their contract moving forward how that works. But definitely I don’t know of cases where artists have been asked for the money back, but then again some artists get paid on the day of the show or the day before if they don’t have proper management with contracts.”


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