The Dubai Expo, which is an annual event, held in UAE (United Arab Emirates), is set aside as a platform that gives opportunity to different nations from across the globe.
Zimbabwe is among the countries that exhibit their work, through any form of art that includes music, theater, craft ornaments and diplomatic meetings with different countries, to exchange notes about their diverse knowledge, cultures, wealth and traditions.
Zimbabwe’s multi-award-winning choreographer, Mehluli Dube popularly known by his stage name Gomez, was among the Zimbabwean artists who had an opportunity to perform at the Dubai Expo this year. He interacted with My Afrika Magazine as he shared with us his experience at the Dubai Expo as a choreographer and what it means being a choreographer in Zimbabwe.
TR: Thank you for giving us this exclusive. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
MG: Mehluli is a Bulawayian boy who grew up in the streets of Mabuthweni and he was raised by his mom (Single parent). I’m from a family of 7 and I being the second of the last.
TR: When did your journey in the arts industry started?
MG: I started performing professional at the age of 11yrs in 2002 under a Theatre performing group for children called ‘Rays of Hope’.
TR: You have travelled across the Globe and headlined several entertainment stages. In terms of atmosphere, what are the major differences in performing home and away from home?
MG: I’ve been privileged to have traveled the world at a very younger age. To me performing was in my blood and every event to me was an opportunity for me to make it a stage.
In terms of atmosphere concerning the home shows and performing outside my home country, everything is professional in terms of value, time, crew, and the stage as a whole.
You will find that there will be 20 to 30 people working with you or your team. The respect you get as a performer is 100 times better than home, before the show starts, you can request for a specific thing, and they will all run around to provide it and that only can make you see your worth.
TR: What has been your finest moments on your journey to the Dubai expo 2021?
MG: Honestly speaking, allow me to mention that the team I was working with they were all amazing and to share the stage with them was one of my finest moments.
Dubai Expo 2020 has been a great and very impactful tour for me even though it was very familiar with the one I once traveled in 2015 Milano Expo 2015 in Italy. The only difference now with Dubai is that this time I was traveling as a responsible artist who now runs his own productions.
I was eyeing for a lot of relevant activities that are familiar with my works and I can safely say to you I picked up a lot of finest aspects and moments that will up my game as ‘Pro-Gomez’.
TR: As an artist what have you benefited from the Dubai expo?
MG: As an artist I have benefited so much, first representing my nation and wearing the national colors is so much benefiting because a lot of great opportunities will come to your doorstep. I also benefited a lot on how you can best work under this ongoing global pandemic and experiencing the traveling arrangements.
The major thing for every artist that we all look up to benefit is our growth as a performer, to go out there and watch other performances and see how you can improve yourself as an artist, for example I got the opportunity to watch Jah Prayzer in a different environment with an audience who doesn’t understand the language but you won’t believe the response by the audience was amazing and with that you get to understand that the world will always appreciate you if you do authentic work that represents you cultural.
TR: How did you manage to get an opportunity to take part in an international stage, the Dubai expo?
MG: When ‘Songs of Queen Lozikeyi’ was created, my name was already there as one of the production team members (Choreographer) and the production was successful and it got the opportunity to be performed in front our President H.E President E D Mnangagwa last year in June, during ‘BAF’ festival and I was also a performer in the production playing ‘Percussion’.
Early this year I received the news from the director of the production that the Production will be showcasing in ‘DubaiExpo2020’ and this time our act will be representing Zimbabwe and it was a huge task to take with both hands.
TR: Back home artists have been lamenting against lack of funding from sponsors and especially the Ministry of Arts and the Cultural fund.
MG: All I can say is that we need to work! work! work! in the name of providing for our families. Complaining consumes a lot of our time and energy and we really need to be careful with that attitude.
I know funds are scarce, but I’ve seen a lot of people achieving severely without any support or sponsorship.
Funding is not enough, and our sector is big.
Zimbabwe has a lot of issues that need attention and funds, and we also need to understand that and find our way of funding our crafts.
TR: Let’s talk about your work current what is your latest national event you have taken part in?
MG: Last year I did ZITF and BAF and this year I’ve already done ZIMA Awards and Dubai Expo 2020, ZITF is already on my calendar.
I might be doing Independence Day but there are still details and arrangements that need to be sorted.
TR: Mehluli you are multi-award-winning artist. Winning award what does it mean to you as an artist?
MG: Winning awards is recognition and especially winning National awards is very good feeling, it’s a clear sign that your work is reaching out to greater audiences. Winning awards awards means there is no going back, create! create! create and keep your followers with you.
TR: Do you mentor upcoming choreographers?
MG: I do a lot. I don’t want this industry to die. I like pushing and working with younger artists and I always challenge them to be versatile if they want to be good Choreographers.
Every production that I get to choreograph I make sure that there are 4 or 5 new faces in my choreography.
TR: Why is it difficult for Zimbabweans to create their own dance moves without ‘copying’, SA’s Dance Dance moves?
MG: This has become a concern.
It was not always like that; this new generation is obsessed with SA trends on social media of which it is not a bad looking at how SA is doing in art industry as whole.
What these young ones are lacking is respect for their cultural dances, they need to research on those dances and create their on moves in line with Msebe or Sungura.
TR: Lastly, from Dubai expo where to?
MG: Back to work as usual, we need to feed our families…
I’m on YouTube: *Mehuli ‘Gomez Dube
Facebook: Gomez saJayden
Instagram: Gomez SaJayden