For weeks the social media has been awash with promotional posters of an event christened Summer Music Festival.
As per the poster the event was slated for December 22 at Civo Stadium in Lilongwe. The line-up of artists was as appetising as it could get. South Africa’s multi-award winning afro-pop group were billed as headliners of the event.
The list also included another South African act, actor and comedian Shorty. On the local front the posters indicated Black Missionaries, Wailing Brothers, Macelba, Kell Kay, Wikise, Phyzix, Kim of Diamonds, Jay Jay Cee and Charisma as among the performers.
But the show, which was allegedly being organised by two South Africans identified as Thuli Denver and Cleo, had mystery and elements of crookedness littered all over it from the start. As days of the show drew closer, our investigations revealed that no payment had been made to service providers or the music acts.
When we checked with venue owners,the Civo Stadium manager said no such booking had been made as regards that particular show.
Another thing which ought to have made any sensible person ask a question or two about this show was its lack of a local coordinating point. A show of such magnitude needed a serious local presence not mere WhatsApp texts and calls.
With all these glaring mishaps it was rather unfortunate to see a number of local artists still keeping their belief in this scam of a show, even after the media had reported on its inadequacies and Mafikizolo had distanced themselves from the show.
On the part of local artists it revealed one thing: desperation. For many it was an opportunity too good to be missed. With the fees associated with making such appearances, it was an opportunity to enforce their festive season budgets.
They did not know that by maintaining their names in this suspicious set-up they were exposing their fans to the potential of being duped into buying tickets for a non-existent show.
This case has also exposed lack of professionalism of most artists and less value that they attach to their trade. You do not allow an event organiser to get your name and face on their promotional posters before a single tambala is deposited in your account.
It is high time local artists stood up to the true values of professionalism and not falling for anything that appears to glitter. They always complain that local event organisers offer them less than they get from international acts, but at the end of the day it has everything to do with their weak bargaining power.
A name and brand in this trade need to be guarded from any possible exploitation. The local artists showed too much respect to these South African conmen. A simple five-minute interaction with them could tell one that they were not for real.
This kind of desperation for a platform is what had Steve Spesho and sibling Miracle Chinga stuck in South Africa after they over-trusted a promoter.
Kudos to rappers Gwamba and Fredokiss, the only two artists who refused to have their names and faces on the posters before the organisers showed real commitment. That is how brands need to be protected from unscrupulous minds in the game.
It is our hope that lessons have been learnt from this unfortunate case. Our artists should learn to interrogate deeply every offer that is brought on their plate. Their value at the end of the day is only as good as they hold it themselves.