Tafadzwa Zimoyo, Harare Bureau

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic which greatly affected the arts sector, this year’s edition of the National Arts Merit Awards (Nama) has been postponed to 2022, with event organisers announcing that they will instead host what has been termed Nama Legends Awards, next year.

The Legends Awards ceremony will be held on February 27 and will be hosted virtually because of Covid-19 restrictions and regulations.

It will run under the theme “Our Legacy, Our Pride,” celebrating the 40th anniversary of Zimbabwe.

National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ) director Nicholas Moyo Moyo made the announcement yesterday at the Jacaranda Culture and Media Corporation, where he also shared other latest developments.

“Next year is not only about honouring living legends in the arts industry. Its a different awards show, but is running under Nama. Those deceased will not qualify in the categories and if one living legend selected died during the period of selection before February 27, he or she qualifies to be honoured and will receive the award posthumously.

“This will be a unique event in the sense that on the night, we shall honour 40 legends as we celebrate 40 years of Independence.

“The Living Legends Awards provide a strategic postponement of the competitive 20th Nama whose hosting hung in the balance due to Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown. That means the prestigious competitive annual awards are therefore, postponed for a year owing to the impact of the Covid-19 disease on creativity and the arts sector in particular over the past eight months.”

Moyo said in reaching the decision to postpone the competitive Nama, NACZ was cognisant of the fact that lack of activity in the sector has greatly affected the ability of artistes to flourish in their usual spaces.

“While we recognise that some arts disciplines have been able to operate under the stringent lockdown conditions, the whole integrity of Nama stands to be compromised in a situation where there were significant inhibitions to creativity created by the stringent lockdown regulations,” he said.

“In this regard, the postponed Nama will be held in February, 2022 and will reward works created in the period December 1, 2019 to November 30, 2021. This extended period is to allow artistes to resume their operations in light of the relaxed Covid-19 regulations.”

Moyo said by hosting the Living Legends Awards, the desire was to reflect on the developments in the cultural and creative industries over the past 40 years and celebrate achievements by providing honorary awards to the people who were influential during that period in shaping various sub-sectors.

“The awards are a special honour and recognition to legendary creatives who have raised the flag of the country over the stated period,” he said.

“The Living Legends Awards are thus meant to inspire practitioners in the sector which is re-opening post-Covid-19 to take advantage of the new creative environment and get back to their creative spaces and produce artworks that will make them the future legends.”

Nama executive producer, Napoleon Nyanhi said a golf day had been scheduled for December 4 ahead of awards show promotion.

“We decided not to wait for the awards show for a whole year, but thought of engaging our artistes, cooperate world, media and sponsors to come, network and interact while playing golf,” he said.

We are happy that we have partnered several companies including Old Mutual, Kayse Connect and Delta Corporation. We want the brand to continue.”

Kayse Connect representative Elton Kurima pledged full support for NAMA, especially on artistes’ welfare.