A Zimbabwe concert this week by Bryan Adams is drawing criticism towards the singer with people believing performing the show is a sign of support towards the regime of Robert Mugabe.
The Globe and Mail reports the show slated for Harare International Conference Centre (HICC) on Friday (Jan. 24) was sold out 10 hours after it was first announced with ticket prices seemingly out of the grasp of most of the country's population.
But while Stephen Harper's government hasn't made any specific statements on the gig, the fact they boycotted a United Nations tourism concert to Zimbabwe in 2013 would suggest they're not exactly enamored with Adams' planned concert. As well, critics believe the country's human-rights violations and various sanctions resulting from Mugabe's questionable election processes should be enough for Adams to reconsider.
"We will continue to work with the people of Zimbabwe to foster a more peaceful, democratic and prosperous future for all, one that respects the fundamental human rights of the Zimbabwean people," a spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said. "We hope that would be the goal for all those visiting Zimbabwe."
"Bryan is an international artist with a worldwide audience, whether it is Pakistan or Vietnam or Zimbabwe," Adams' longtime manager Bruce Allen replied via e-mail to the outlet. "To paraphrase what he has said over the course of his 30-plus year career, 'Everywhere he goes, kids wanna rock.' Music will, I hope, always remain a universal language."
Meanwhile, others such as Zimbabwean novelist Petina Gappah says the gig is a chance for the country to satiate a "real hunger for contact with the outside world" while Zimbabwean newspaper columnist Vince Musewe says it's "inappropriate." Musewe also says if Adams wants to create change for the country's population he should refuse to perform. "High-profile people should refuse to go to African countries where ordinary people are fighting their rulers."
The controversy isn't the first regarding musicians performing in countries with less than stellar human rights. USA Today reports last year alone saw Mariah Carey performing in Angola, Jennifer Lopez performing in Turkmenistan and Kanye West playing before the grandson of Kazakhstan president Nursultan Nazarbayev who has been accused of several human rights violations.
As for Zimbabwe, AllAfrica.com reports a civil service strike was averted today with workers accepting a $54 salary increase. The annual wage of would be an estimated $500 with the increase, up from $446 according to RadioVop Zimbabwe.
Adams has made no comment regarding the Zimbabwe concert controversy. He continues his Bare Bones tour with stops in South Africa throughout the end of January before a seven-date Canada trek hitting the Prairies and Western Canada next month.