Godwin Muzari and Nyore Madzianike
Open air concerts in the rainy season are a risk, as Alick Macheso or more precisely his concert organisers, discovered at the weekend.
It was around 2am on Saturday when the sky opened up to a heavy downpour in Harare. It had rained earlier in some parts of the capital, but Budiriro 2 had only received light showers.
It seemed the gods had only given showers of blessings to the high-density suburb that hosted Macheso’s show on the night and most merrymakers were almost certain their partying spirits would not be dampened by the wet weather.
The showers had come and gone, clearing fears of an aborted gig.
A few stars dotted in the distant dark umbrella seemed to show off the sky’s glittering smile that apparently assured merrymakers of a pleasant night of uninterrupted dance, music, fun and obviously booze.
They started flocking into Charehwa Matombo Bar at Budiriro 2 shops as early as 8pm on Friday with anxiety exuding from their anticipatory actions as they moved in.
Progress Chipfumo was on stage at around 9pm and his energetic act kept revellers on their feet.
The outdoor venue continued to swell up with music fans. A great night was beckoning.
They came in as individuals, pairs and groups to this show that was considered as rare by many.
Macheso had last performed in this area many months ago and his combination with talented Chipfumo was something juicy to look forward to.
With superb delivery of songs like “Mangerengere”, “Wakaramba Vana” and “Ndawana Wangu”, Chipfumo exacerbated the merry-making mood of the night.
Towards midnight, the mood went a gear up when Macheso joined Chipfumo on stage. The party was heading towards its peak. Deafening wild cheers from the crowd pierced the night.
Most of the revellers seemed to be rapidly getting more energy from the wise waters.
There was pushing and shoving here and there. Over-excited imbibers sprayed the air with beer in celebration. Intermittent whistling and ululating signalled exaggerated sparkle.
Macheso and his band were now on stage and many were prepared to get lost in the fun. And the king of sungura did not disappoint.
He started churning out hit after hit.
About two hours into his performance, the unexpected and unwanted scenario for merrymakers began unfolding.
The sky went darker, lightning splitting solid clouds here and there.
Scattered raindrops fell, signalling the possibility of a heavy downpour within the shortest time anticipated.
Signs of a heavy downpour were written all over the sky and there was no need for a meteorologist to tell when the rains would come.
Suddenly, heavy rains came and pounded revellers.
Some die-hard Macheso followers remained standing in the open, as a few were allowed to take shelter on the stage.
Macheso went off the stage as revellers invaded his space, but the band continued performing. The insecure roof on the stage gave in to the downpour and leaks allowed heavy rains to pound the stage.
A pool of water formed on the stage, but the band continued performing. The fans on stage continued dancing in the vast pool that gave huge risk of electrical mishap as instrument cables swam in water.
As the downpour continued, Macheso had to join the band and fans on stage. It was a rare phenomenon for many. Macheso and his fans on the same stage!
He was there, right in the middle of the crowd and the party continued.
Others that had taken refuge in nearby sheds came back to the open space for leisure baptism as they danced in the rain.
Organisers of the show were caught napping as they failed to provide shelter for the people, most of whom were forced to take cover in nearby bars and cars.
Quite clearly, show organisers did not plan with the weather in mind. Cases of events being cancelled, abandoned or postponed because of unfavourable weather conditions have been told and it seems a few take care.
The Budiriro show was a great lesson, not only to Macheso and owners of Charehwa Matombo Bar, but to other artistes and event organisers on the importance of considering weather patterns when planning their events.
Weather reports or forecasts are important as they help to determine future climate expectations, giving room for event organisers to put in place all the things needed under certain weather conditions.
In winter, some event organisers would respond to the cold weather by putting put some braziers to keep revellers warm.
Although Macheso acknowledged that organisers made misjudgement on the night, he also encouraged other artistes to take note of weather reports when planning for their shows.
“It is true that we normally ignore things like weather reports, but they are important,” he said. “We normally leave the responsibility of pitching tents on the venue to owners of the places and promoters, but it is important that we, as artists, check with them before the show.
“This will also help us avoid inconveniences like what happened tonight. We never thought of relying on these weather reports over the past years. I am sure this will go a long way for better planning for our forthcoming shows.
“I am really sorry to our fans who came through to our show tonight and I promise that this will not happen again as we are going to purchase a big tent to pitch at outdoor venues where they do not have such.”
Macheso said he had to continue performing despite the rain because of the value he attaches to his fans.
“We had to continue performing,” he said. “We had to accommodate fans on stage because it was not their fault that there was no tent above their heads.
“These are our people. Orchestra Mberikwazvo is a band of the people. We will never abandon them in whatever circumstances. We had to continue with the dance in the rain until the morning.”
The rain stopped at 3.30am and the party continued in full throttle, ending at around 6am.