Features In focus

Our stars should be role models

MARTIN NKOLOMBA
EVERY society has stars, those people who inspire a following based on what they do or a thing or things they possess, material and otherwise.
If that is true, then in Zambia we too, have our own stars and these have come in different forms.
My write-up today is essentially about the conduct of our so-called stars in music and entertainment generally when they have performed or appeared at public events.
For years, our artistes have never ‘failed’ to wow people at public functions, be it concerts, shows or awards-giving events.
Like many other people, I find celebrities likable and the reason is not difficult to comprehend. These human beings simply have some sort of influence on certain people.
Albeit, I need to say that it is not all stars I like – which is normal – as no individual in this world would ever be able to like everything. What is not liked may not necessarily be bad, although many times people dislike things for that selfsame reason.
Stars command a lot of respect among their followers because of their unique attributes and exceptional ability and their influence has far-reaching implications on society.
In Zambia, there has been a perceived boom in the music industry thanks to the deliberate initiative by some stakeholders to promote Zambian music, whose offshoots have sometimes excited many and caused palpitations among many others.
In the recent past, Zambian music has enjoyed a considerable amount of airplay on many of our radio and television stations, including our public broadcaster Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC).
There has been drama equally as our country’s arts fraternity has been evolving. Some of our celebrities have been portrayed at gigs and similar events in ways that have raised a lot of dust among many in the country.
The controversy has been reverberated by media coverage, especially the print media.
While there seems to have been a good number of people who have enjoyed the coverage, there is also an overwhelming number of who have found the coverage offensive.
Many people have contended that there has been just too much display of nudity among our stars, whose fan base comprises young people in the majority.
The main culprit, it appears, have been female artistes, whose dressing has sparked much controversy everywhere, more so in the media, both mainstream and online.
They have been spotted in tricky attire. Sometimes what should be hidden has somewhat been exposed to the public eye. To some it has been exciting, especially fashion lovers and those with a taste for that type of hedonism. To others, it has been jaw-dropping.
But how has all this sat with our social order? Have they in any way gone against our traditions, norms and values? These are vital questions and they must be treated as such.
Obviously most of what we are seeing is foreign culture. Foreign culture is good if adapted well to the norms of the recipient society. It is also important that such culture is in line with what is socially acceptable.
Unfortunately, some of our artistes have consciously or blindly copied certain negative aspects of pop culture from some developed countries. This has related to conduct at shows as well as prestigious award-giving events, where for instance people have dressed in extremely revealing ways. It should not be forgotten too that bad elements of Western culture have invaded our culture through music videos and even movies.
Evidence of what I am saying abounds. All someone needs to do is to go on the worldwide web, the internet, to see the reality of what I am saying.
Our artistes should probably just emulate those positive elements of Western culture, especially as it relates to shows. They should learn how to organise such shows well as their colleagues in the Western world.
The trouble has been that many of our artistes have copied the negative elements of Western pop culture and sought to entrench them in Zambia, which is regrettable.
Over and above, these artistes have actually been seen on many occasions to have beaten the originators of such culture at their own game.
Some of the things they have done while on stage and at important events have the potential to even shock hardcore proponents of the most controversial types of Western culture.
Our artistes have done well so far, they have demonstrated that they possess the drive to make things happen for themselves and for our country. One thing they need to do, though, is not to depart from socially acceptable conduct whether at shows or just other functions.
Our dear artistes should always realise that as celebrities, they are role models in society and fashion their conduct in a manner befitting that status.
I am not prescribing specific conduct for them, but simply urging them to tone down and align their comportment with our norms and values. That will greatly improve their image and hopefully revenue.
The author is Zambia Daily Mail sub editor

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