On Saturday 21 November, 2015, www.metal4africa.com issued two first-of-their-kind awards to members of the local metal community in Cape Town. One Guardian Of South African Metal Award was received by Zain Domo of The Unscene on behalf of the late Riaan Van Eck, and another awarded to Antonio Manuel, owner of Gandalf’s and ROAR live music venue. The purpose of the Guardian Of South African Metal Award is to acknowledge people who act out in alignment with M4A belief principles. In this article, these belief principles will be described in direct words from “the voice” behind this project.
“This is an idea we’ve had for some time already. We never wanted it to become an annual or other kind of regular thing. I mean, we don’t want to feel forced to give out one every year just for the sake of tradition and then not actually finding somebody who truly warrants it – or devaluing what it means to those who have already received it by giving new ones away to people who have not displayed similar degrees of commitment to these belief principles as those who received it before them. We like to think of this as the highest honour that can be bestowed upon those who do as we admire them to be doing, and for the right reasons as to why we admire them.”
“However, we do intend to create more as and when we observe somebody in our community reaching what in our view amounts to a sort of ‘critical mass’ in their endeavor, and especially those people not specifically connected to www.metal4africa.com, but who are acting out in alignment with our own strongest belief principles. We wish to acknowledge them and thank them for doing the kind of work which we value so highly as that, in the perfect world, we would even have been doing it ourselves. We hope that this also projects a strong and tangible message to the greater community to show people that whatever efforts individuals are willing to put in beyond the call of duty do not go thankless. In essence, these awards are not given by just our small team at www.metal4africa.com, but we feel should be regarded as something simply in our care to hand over to these special individuals on behalf of our readership as a whole.” ~ Patrick Davidson (news writer / representative, www.metal4africa.com)
“It is unfortunate that the man who actually inspired this idea – not because it was his idea, but because his efforts and generosity towards his community, in our opinion, deserved this level of acknowledgement already while he lived – actually has not lived to see it realized. The tragic loss of Riaan Van Eck in a motorcycle accident in September this year reminded us that one should not wait too long to tell people how much you appreciate them, as you might never have that chance otherwise. I would like to share some words now that echo the sentiments I tried to express at Riaan’s funeral in September.”
“The first award of this kind is dedicated to the memory of a man who arrived in our midst after returning home from years abroad and immediately seeded himself into our local scene. Riaan was a friend to all, and he simply did not offer those to whom he attached himself even an option of friendship – he just was, and we had to accept it. But more significantly, he honoured his friendships by getting actively involved with his friends and their interests. Nobody had to ask Riaan to do things, or nag him to get something done once he had committed himself to a task. He was never afraid of physical work and would arrive at many gigs early, availing himself to whatever duties he could in order to make life easier for those under more pressure than himself. These tasks ranged from menial things like moving furniture and carrying amps to running merch stalls, access control, and even fixing things, right through to providing entertainment and keeping people happy. Although Riaan was known by some as the Burning Tone merch guy, or the True Believer host, or the metal4africa security guard (yes, he even did that one time when our contracted guys were late to arrive), he did not do these things as an “official affiliate” to any particular brand. This is why we liked him so much! He served South African metal as a whole, and wherever he felt was needed. And then his input extended to financial aid as well. I will not divulge too much detail suffice to say that Riaan – who himself lived a modest lifestyle – put a substantial amount of his earnings towards assisting a number of local bands who needed it to engage in things like tours, album launches or even just getting merchandise printed. He asked no reward in return. He was not kissing arse. I believe that Riaan just wanted to see those who he surrounded himself with to enjoy what they were doing as much as he enjoyed it himself. Riaan Van Eck might not have thought of himself that way, but he was truly a Guardian Of South African Metal.” ~ Patrick Davidson
“The second award was to acknowledge Antonio Manuel, owner of Gandalf’s and ROAR. For an amount of years beginning to approach two decades, Antonio has grown closer and in strength of unity with the metal community which forms an important cornerstone of his business. He provides our community with the security of a home for metal bands in Cape Town, and his venue offers a platform for many young musicians to cut their teeth and build up confidence and stage craft. Furthermore, Antonio has done everything reasonable and within his power to keep nightlife for us as affordable as possible. He respects the financial limitations of the poorest of metalheads and finds ways in which they can still participate in their passion. He has invested in what many will argue has been the consistently best venue sound on the local circuit, and for those who have put in effort enough to prove themselves good for it, he makes this available at no charge. Of course, this is all just good business. What has truly marked Antonio out as extraordinary is his show of solidarity with the genre outside of his most immediate business interests. In 2014, Antonio hosted the first Brutal Band Braai at Trenchtown where he invited the entire metal band community and other noteworthy people to a free-for-all “tjop en dop”, providing meat and liquor at no charge. The motivation for this was to not only help the bands to network and build stronger cooperation and friendship circles, but also to provide a suitable environment for younger bands to connect on personal levels with older bands and gain knowledge from those who have many more years of experience. Furthermore, Antonio used his 2014 Brutal Band Braai to announce the launch of another initiative: his Metal Band Bursary where a band gets selected to invest the sum of a few thousand rand in cash along with other donations from various industry players that he pulls onboard. Antonio might not think of himself this way, but he is truly a Guardian Of South African Metal.”
“It was decided to use Antonio’s 2015 Brutal Band Braai on Saturday as the most suitable platform to hand over these awards. Especially for Antonio, since most of the people who value his ongoing support and commitment to developing those who keep his own business’ doors open were all in attendance to lend authenticity to the gesture. There could not have been a better time or place. For Riaan, this was the most suitable place because anybody who attended the first Brutal Band Braai would recall that Riaan spent hours and hours with smoke in his eyes braaing the meat enjoyed by the hundred or so in attendance.” ~ Patrick Davidson
On www.metal4africa.com’s strongest belief principles:
“This news website – and those various elements that surround it, such as the M4A SummerFest and WinterFest day festivals – was created on the basis of an ideology: by the African Metal bands and their fans to represent the greatest interest for the African Metal bands and their fans. Our belief principles are thus most strongly tied in with what will bring the most benefit to the aspiring local metal musicians and the fans of local metal bands. Our strongest attention and efforts will always be committed to that which allows ‘him’ or ‘her’ their best chances towards self-realization in these endeavors. That is this organization’s first and most invested interest; the reason for which it was created in 2006 when at that time there was a lack of anything comparable.”
“This does not mean that we reject or do not value the efforts of other organizations, persons, or business entities which do other kinds of work. Indeed, we often work with many of them and are always looking for ways to further cooperation. It remains important, however, that we keep www.metal4africa.com on track with it’s own mission objectives and to leave the other spaces open for those who are better equipped to engage it. That is why we have never attempted to import popular international bands from beyond the boundaries of Africa as many fans of metal have often requested of us to do. We value the work that these other entities are doing – especially with building bridges for international metal to be welcomed into our country – but it is more important now than ever before that we remember what our role is to play when it is so easy to be distracted by all of these other excellent opportunities. Our role is to put every effort into better equipping local musicians, and to try and build those bridges which can transport more African metal into international territories. To this end, we would like to acknowledge those who have put in the greatest efforts along these same specific lines of thought.” ~ Patrick Davidson
At this time there are other people of interest in South Africa whose efforts are being observed so as to warrant such an award. More immediately, however, we would like to thank those who have made the creation of these items possible by crediting Deon Brand and his colleagues at Waterjet Extreme, and Donovan Ashley for financing the initiative.
We would also like to mention that this token of public acknowledgement is in no way intended to challenge, duplicate, or replace the South African Metal Music Awards (see previous article here) hosted annually in Gauteng since 2014. We would like to credit the organizers of SAMMA for inspiring us at www.metal4africa.com with their strong initiative to create our own with completely different principles and objectives in play, and for using this variant of the concept only to expand the public acknowledgement to other noteworthy individuals who may not necessarily be musicians.
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