Dr SHAKES: A CASE OF A PROPHET NOT RECOGNISED IN HIS OWN COUNTRY
“Nation mourns…” is a favourite headline for local newspapers when a well known public figure, mostly politicians, die.
There is normally no qualification who exactly is mourning, except those in the media like to club everyone together as mourning their favorite person
This was so until the nation mourned a real hero, the late comedian Lungelo Smallz Gina and then suddenly the headlines were not of a nation "mourning".
Only just a few weeks ago did the nation wake up to news of Gina’s death, sparking nationwide sorry met only by total silence from those in power.
Little recognition was given to Gina by politicians or those in authority more generally, within and outside the arts, at least not in the magnitude the country expected. But social media could not let a legacy go down unnoticed, they used all creative means to elevate Gina’s status to a national hero.
Just before his death, Gina had engaged in a conversation with Bonginkhosi Dr Shakes Dlamini, under the banner of The Bridge podcasts, decrying the treatment of local comedians in the country.
Bonginkhosi Dr Shakes Dlamini at one of his comedy tour of various countries in SADC.
Quite poignantly, the two comedians called for “track suits” for those of them who represent the nation outside the borders. The tracksuit was a powerful euphemism for something even deeper.
It was not to be taken literally. It was a reference to how footballers, swimmers, athletes and just about anyone who represent the country outside the borders is given something (a tracksuit with the flag colours as a reference) as the nation’s way of saying ‘we recognize you’.
In the eyes of both Gina and Dlamini, the track suit became a figurative representation of something the country gives in recognition to anyone hoisting the Swazi flag outside the borders. Gina is gone and Dlamini is alone still without a “tracksuit” even as he tours the region nd proving to all and sundry that "Swazis are talented".
In the last few weeks Dlamini has been traversing the entire SADC region showcasing his comic skills to an appreciative SADC audience. “No ne has said or done anything for me from the arts and culture during this tour. I am alone here doing my thing but still without a tracksuit,” Dlamini said in an interview with The Bridge before bursting into laughter.
Dlamini has been touring Botswana, Lesotho, and Zambia, showcasing to the region what the country can produce. And he has been met with warm hands, something he says he appreciates.
Dlamini was first booked in Botswana where he performed to a full audience before his talents were recognized by the organisers and was booked in Lesotho and later Zambia. While in Zambia he performed at the Zed Laughter festival and cemented his name a naturally gifted comedian.
Dr shakes with other comedias in one of his SADC tours (courtesy pic).
Dlamini told the Bridge that it was a missed opportunity that he has been performing in all these places without even a "tracksuit" with Swazi flag colours, something that he says would have promoted tourism.
“If I come on stage with anything that visually represents your country you do not even have to introduce yourself. But for us we are given nothing by our line ministry. We are just alone hosting the country’s flag with nothing,” said Dlamini to The Bridge.
Dlamini said his trip was so successful that some of the festival organisers have implored him to emulate the experience in Botswana and take it to eSwatini and they will support him pull the shows through. Dlamini says he will do it.
"Dr Shakes", as Dlamini is affectionately known, was recognized and later invited to the Botswana festival after he started his video sketches as a lawyer representing people who were trending on social media.
Asked what the one thing is he wishes the country copied, Dlamini said it was the treatment of comedians and the pay that accompanies their performance. He said of all the countries he visited Botswana paid best and was by far well organized.
Dlamini is expected to return to the country next week after making one last stop in Botswana for one last performance.
Gina is still fresh in his grave but must be tossing that even after his death, his voices to give comedians their "tracksuits" still not honoured.