Tonderai Zvimba, Showbiz Reporter
South Africa-based ventriloquist and standup comedian Chik Aljoy, real name Anesu Chikowo, says relocating to South Africa is no guarantee for success.
The 23-year-old stand-up comedian and his puppet Jackie The Monkey rose to fame through his participation in South African talent show SA’s Got Talent in 2016 where he was a semi-finalist. Since then, he has not looked back as comedy is now his full time job.
Having relocated to the neighbouring country in 2011 when he was 15 years old, Chik Aljoy who taught himself ventroquilism (act of stagecraft in which a person (ventriloquist) changes his/her voice so that it appears that the voice is coming from a puppeteered prop) said: “Moving to South Africa doesn’t really mean your career will flourish. You can relocate and nothing works out for you.
“It’s about planning and knowing what your career needs. However, if your career is not flourishing where you are, it’s fair to look for a place that can accommodate your career.”
Reliving his early days in South Africa, the talented artist said at the beginning, it was strange being in South Africa as he was trying to adapt to a new country and learn new languages.
“In Zimbabwe, we only have three main languages, but in South Africa there are 11. Fortunately, it was easy for me to integrate and make friends because I was always the funny guy – I like to talk a lot,” he said.
Now, he can speak four languages including Tswana, Xhosa and Zulu. While he has never been treated differently for being a foreigner as he has learnt to adapt and fit in, he said it was disheartening that some Zimbabwean artists, once they make it outside the country, deny that they are Zimbabweans.
“Unfortunately, most Zimbabwean artists do actually deny that they’re from Zimbabwe. For some, mostly this is because when they move to other countries, they get illegal documentation. This often contradicts with their original documentation.
“It’s also a pity that they end up living in denial, all in the name of acceptance, I’m proud to be Zimbabwean and this is something I will never deny.”
The comedian who is nominated for this year’s Roil Bulawayo Arts Awards in the Outstanding Comedian category said he was grateful for the recognition.
“I’m super excited. It means a lot getting a nomination from home, your city to be precise. Growing up, being recognised back home has always been something I wished,” he said.
To give back to the Bulawayo community, Chik Aljoy is planning to have an annual comedy show in the city together with South Africa-based standup comedian Q Dube.
“I’m organising a comedy show with Q Dube and we’ll be bringing some top African comedians to the City of Kings. I’ve always wanted to do something for my city and I think this will be a great way to express my love for my city as well as exposing new talented comedians,” he said.