I am a Dinaka/Kiba practitioner. Can i get paid for my service?

In spite being one of the oldest genres in Southern Africa, Dinaka/Kiba music and dance is one of the most neglected and underrated art forms in modern day South Africa.

A situational analysis of the Arts and Culture Industry in South Africa reveals contemporary art forms such as jazz, house, afro-pop, hip hop and kwaito just to mention a few, are the most appreciated.

The dominance of these contemporary art forms over their traditional counterparts on the arts and culture landscape is so deeply entrenched. Those who raise this issue might be dismissed as hopeless and bitter. What makes matters worse is that the lack of remuneration among Dinaka/Kiba practitioners has long been internalized by rural communities as ‘okay’.

Contemporary art forms are perceived as the ‘hippiest’ and ‘happening’. Hence mani-a-followers do not mind spending money for products, performance at concerts and sponsored gigs.

Of course yes, contemporary artists need to be paid for their craft. They have bills to pay, families to feed, right?

We now know through an article published in the Sunday World dated 21 February 2016 that for instance, house musician Donald charges R35 000, Hugh Masekela (may his soul rest in peace) R280 000(say what), Chomee R40 000, Nathi R50 000 and legendary Ray Phiri (may his soul rest in peace) R240 000 for so called appearance fees, with terms and conditions nogal. The underlying justification for these figures is that these individual artists perform alongside a crew which also needs to be paid.

Meanwhile in Ga Molepo, a 22 member Dinaka/Kiba music and dance ensemble charges a meagre R300 for a performance. Such performance fees are unconditional and have remained so for decades. Throughout the years, paying Dinaka/Kiba ensembles close to nothing has become a norm within black communities. This questionable norm is standard practice in most regions of Limpopo where Dinaka/Kiba can be found. At times, some groups are not even paid for their performances. Instead, they are given food and drinks (majwala) as compensation for their performance.

The idea that Dinaka/Kiba artists can perform about 10 songs for 6 to 8 hours and not be equally remunerated is mind boggling. Many residents seem to have accepted the blatant economic marginalization of Dinaka/Kiba artists as normal. For instance, there is opposition to the raising of performance fees from R300 to R1500 at Mankgaile, Ga Molepo. The truth is that even the R1500 performance fee falls short of what a 22 member Dinaka/Kiba ensemble ought to get paid.

That said, one could argue that contemporary artists are commercially viable than traditional artists.  The argument could be extended by stating that Dinaka/Kiba practitioners are more charitable than their contemporary counterparts.

However, a closer look at the living conditions of Dinaka/Kiba artists tells a different story. In spite of their unique inborn talents, most of them struggle to put bread on the table. In a capitalist society that is South Africa, is it a sin for a Dinaka/Kiba practitioner to get paid for their service?