Joe Wailer speaks on Midlands Arts Festival
Admore Kudita, caught up with Joe Wailer, the founder of the Midlands Arts and Culture Festival to find out about the event and what makes the promoter of Midlands’ biggest arts event tock.
SE: What is MACfest and over time how many artists have graced your stage and where is your venue?
JW: The festival was started in 2008 by myself. The idea was to give local artists a platform to express themselves. Our main focus is youth development and professional growth. Our programme caters for youths, women, prisoners and artists with disabilities. MACfest is a multi-disciplinary festival encompassing, music, dance, theatre, visual arts, literal arts and film. Major highlights this year will be a debut by 2010 Oscar award winner, Prudence Mabhena, Carl Joshua Ncube, Tongai Moyo documentary the show goes on and a story reading session by the Czech Republic embassy. This year’s festival will be held from the September 15 to 20. We use various venues: MSU, cathedral, main stage is at Midlands Hotel. MACfest Zimbabwe is also on Facebook.
SE: What is the greatest attendance figure you have garnered to date?
JW: Each year we grace over 200 artists.
SE: Do you run workshops with the festival?
JW: Culture fund Trust of Zimbabwe have again availed $6000 for the festival. Yes, we run workshops for all arts genres in partnership with Pamberi Trust and MSU.
SE: Corporate sponsorship?
JW: A big thank you to Culture fund who have continued to have faith in festival. There is something brewing up which I cannot mention at the moment. Karikoga Kaseke, the ZTA Ceo is now a patron of the festival and ZTA is our official organizing partner starting this year.
SE: What will they do for the festival; are they actually bringing money in?
JW: Help with fundraising and marketing. We are keen to make MACfest Zimbabwe one of the biggest if not the biggest festival in Zimbabwe. College Press has come on board with over 80 book prizes for our poetry Slam. We thank them so much for that.
SE: What team do you have to run festival?
JW: We have an organising committee in place with 25 members and an advisory board of 9 people.
SE: Do you find that Midlands artists are getting their fair share?
JW: MACfest Zimbabwe is a platform for the Midlands artists to market themselves. There is an abundance of talent in the province who were not being exposed. We have so many artists migrating to Harare and this is what we seek to curb.
SE: Turning to the person Joe Wailer. Who is he?
JW: I am a reggae artist with five albums namely Beautiful Zimbabwe, Unite Africa, Rise and Shine, Not Afraid and Chant Down Babylon.
SE: Why that moniker, Joe Wailer?
JW: Oh! My father was a great fan of the Wailers. People used to call him “mdara wailer” so as his son I became Joe Wailer. I grew up listening to a lot of reggae music, the roots type. My inspiration cometh from the music of Joseph Hill and culture. Reggae music is spiritual upliftment. Reggae music is about peace and love. Show me a Rastaman and I will show you the image of god. You can find my profile and music on www.
SE: What is Rasta all about?
JW: Rasta is all about consciousness. It is about who we really are and our relationship with the Creator. Purity of mind, purity of body and purity of soul.
SE: On the current dancehall craze. What are ghetto youths rushing for in dancehall? Is it as they call it in Jamaica slackness?
JW: True dat. The so called dancehall is just but a passing phase.
SE: Why do you say it’s a passing phase? There was Shabba Ranks, Buju now they’ve got Vybz Kartel and Winky D now that’s a stretch?
JW: Play any Bob Marley track and you will know what I am talking about. Buju is in prison, Vybes has committed suicide. That’s dancehall for you. Violence, crime, foul language. No no no. I have no beef with the youths. 80% of the artists at MACfest are youths. What we cannot promote is slackness.
We promote not only our arts but our culture as well. This is why you will never see the likes of Beverly performing at MACfest or any artists who promotes slackness.
Slack lyrics include crude sexuality, homophobia, violence, drugs. It is the opposite of social conscious lyrics preached by Bob Marley. We the elders must teach the youths.