FIFA Fires Lebo M

A headline on the front page of Sunday World on the 20th June 2010 read “FIFA Sacks Lebo M”. I am not really tabloid media fan but being the inquisitive person I am, the headline made me buy the paper. Inside, the story reported by Theo Nyhaba revealed how the controversial muso and Lion King producer was “red carded”. Apprently Lebo’s company was contracted to deliver music to the closing and opening FIFA WC ceremonies. Trouble brew when Lebo alledgedly hogged all the attention and wanted to have 100% control over all creative matters relating to the event even though his company was part of a consortium entrusted with this enormously vital task.


Theo also reports that Lebo delivered the music late thus delaying the production. Furthermore it’s said that the committee had expected the muso to compose new songs for the events but he instead compiled pre-existing songs. Unimpressed with the end product, they sacked the millionaire artist. Do not feel sorry for him as he apparently won't be crying for a lost gig since the committee will be adding to his millions with a sizeable R7mil as “thanks for nothing” reward. Ok we all know the Organising committee for the World Cup has money (don't ask where this loot comes from) but R7mil (or was it 6) for all that mediocre on the opening ceremony, was that that necessary?


My gripe with this situation is that if you had been watching the opening ceremony you would have noticed that the show was ridiculously whack. The theme was incoherent and the only thing I got from the “story” that they were trying to tell was the calabash thing. Beyond that the whole event was a total chaos with dancers everywhere not knowing exactly what they were doing. The production was a total mess. At the risk of being called an “afro-pessimist” why oh why must we always try too hard to put this African thing on everything we do? We are Africans, everybody knows that... can we now move on. I think this in a way keeps us from evolving creatively. If the only identity we have creatively as Africans especially South Africans is to build mud houses, carry water from the river, circumcision schools, the big 5 etc what else can we ever be but that. I am sick of going to watch a play or a dance piece and having this tired old images being thrust on us as The African Identity.


After watching the opening ceremony I was so disappointed that I turned to facebook to rant. I gave the show a 4/10 on my status and a FB friend, Sthe, commented after another friend said we should be supportive since this is in SA. Sthe replied:

“I am very proud of Africa, but really now lets be honest we could have done better much better... All it takes is looking at past events and perfect them... Problem we try too hard to be "african" and i dont think anyone knows what this africanism means.... Just my 2cents worth”

I could not agree with him more. The choreographer and the creative team behind the show failed dismally to showcase our unique talents. Since the Opening Concert was usurped by FIFA and international stars I feel the opening ceremony should have been the platform for us to show our capabilities. What was that with singers singing for few seconds? I heard the name HHP and as I turned to the screen he was gone. Don’t get me started on Thandiswa Mazwai, she was inaudible (ok it wasn’t her fault but the technical team’s).


The Dung-beetle thing with a ball was cute for like a second and then it was yaaaaaaaaaaaaaawn all the way. The footsteps of mankind in Africa… I mean really was that the best you could come up with? I am not saying we should abandon our stereotypically African images. All I am saying is that we have immense talent in SA. We have great dancers and singers. We missed an opportunity to show the world our talents instead we told them stories that they already know about Africa. There was nothing uniquely SA about the show. Where was the WOW factor? The lowest point for me was when they did the flipping banners to spell out names thing, that was ridiculous and it’s been done so many times. MTN is doing that with the AYOBA word on its ad and OMO is doing it with the flag on its ad. That to me is like using different normal sounds and tools to make music, that’s been done to death. New ideas please!!!


Now with that entire mediocre why is Lebo the only person fired? I think the entire creative team behind the opening ceremony should have been given the boot. The problem with this nation, as is with our politics, is that we are such hypocrites. We scream equal opportunities and uplifting the undiscovered talent yet we don’t practice such. Instead our industry is just as elitist in giving equal opportunities to artist as is our politics with tenders. Yes people like Lebo M and Somizi Mhlongo are good at what they do but are they the only talent we have in this country? It’s clear this people have run out of ideas. Shouldn’t we then try and bring fresh and innovative new talent into the fold?


There are people in this industry who can deliver far better spectacles on this world stage but sadly because this people aren’t affiliated with certain social cliques they would never be given the opportunity to shine. This in my view is selfish and is belittling the standard of talent this nation has. I don’t know what Lupi Ngcayisa’s capabilities beyond being a radio dj are especially in terms of styling but can the SABC tell me that in this entire country there was nobody else with more experience or fresh approach who could have been given the contract to style WC shows’ hosts. I find it disheartening that opportunities within our industry especially where the SABC is concerned are centered on buddy-lines. There should be a rule that prohibits SABC employees in any capacity from being awarded further contracts by the company. The rule should also apply generally that opportunities to produce, choreograph etc for big national events should alternate among different people.


I respect Lebo M but I respectfully think he did not deserve the R7mil he allegedly got. On the same token I think he shouldn’t have been the only one fired. Sadly we all have to endure another tired old mediocre on the closing ceremony since most of the people who worked on the opening ceremony will be working on the closing.

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