Clive Malunga


As we meet this week, a dark cloud hangs over the arts community in Zimbabwe following the demise of Zexie  Manatsa. Manatsa was a music giant who produced many timeless hit songs such “Chipo Chiroorwa”, “Tiyi Hobvu”, Vaparidzi Vawanda” and  ” Tsuro Soccer Star”. According to a statement released by the National Arts Council, ” Manatsa was a uniquely talented artist who was not only concerned about his musical career but also shared his talent with other musicians notably leading to the formation of the Sunrise Kwela Kings at Jairosi Jiri Centre in Bulawayo where he advocated the inclusion of musical skills training.”  Dr Oliver Mtukudzi once said he learned how to play the electric guitar from Manatsa and in 2006 Zexie was the first person to win the Cheuka Shure / Bheki Emuvha ZIMA award which was handed over to him by Oliver Mutukudzi. Therein lay his greatness; his ability to inspire and help others to succeed. I pass my heartfelt condolences to his family and the entire music fraternity. May his soul rest in eternal peace.

True greatness is measured by the number of faces who smile when they hear your name, John Wesley succinctly said, “Let me do all the good I can, to all the people I can, as often as I can, for I shall not pass this way again.”  What a great personal resolution which is as relevant today as it was decades ago when he made it. Sharing brings comfort and spiritual strength to an individual artist. Disappointingly, there have not been much willingness by individuals to share their talents to support others in the music industry.  For most musicians, success has only been about personal achievement; personal bank accounts, personal awards and personal glory. In my view, this lack of eagerness to hold a struggling brother’s hands and excessive focus on self has hampered the rate of development in our sector.  If music teachers had also acted like musicians, our music industry would have been history.

There is need for local artists to collaborate locally and internationally. Platforms have to be created for frequent interaction between artists to allow for cross – pollination of ideas, sharing of skills and building of professional networks.  Imagine how beneficial it would have been if Dr Oliver Mutukudzi had shared his international contacts (which could be world-wide) with many local musicians. Jethro Shasha, arguably the best drummer to come out of Zimbabwe, died and left with his exquisite drumming expertise. Jonah Sithole as well as Elisha Josamu passed on with their amazing guitar playing skills.  Sekuru David Gweshe was a doyen of traditional music and  dance  but died without passing that knowledge to others.  Are we a country of selfish musicians? Or is it because we just lack professional maturity to put in place systems that can allow us to learn best practices from each other for the good of us all?  I posit that local artists need to develop strategies for sharing and documenting their contacts, skills and knowledge for their own good and for the good of future generations.  Selfless collaborations will help our industry to develop and grow in leaps and bounds.

I firmly believe that our strength as artists must be measured by the number of other artists who have succeeded because we have shown them the way to music promoters, music managers and world music festivals. It must be the responsibility of every prominent artist to assist upcoming musicians to take root and grow through giving technical, moral and material support. Personally, I see it as my duty to help other musicians and I have used every opportunity to do so. From 1992 through to 2006, I brought the music industry together through the annual Jenaguru Music Festivals. With the support we got from the media, the Jenaguru Festivals used to pull large crowds of people from all corners of the country to Gwanzura Stadium. Musicians would mix and mingle as they shared the stage and that enhanced collegiality among them. In 2002, I made the Four Brothers smile when I toured Japan for two months with the group after the demise of their leader, Marshall Munhumumwe. I persuaded the Bhundu Boys to employ Henry Kuda Matimba after realising his talent. Henry Matimba has gone on to become an international artist. I also assisted Sekuru Gora and Ambuya Beauler Dyoko to record. I am currently helping a group composed of  Simba, Knowledge and John Chibadura; the three sons of the late Sungura legend, John Chibadura. I wish to see them grow to match or surpass the heights that their father had reached before his death.

The mass media has a critical role in building the music industry of a country. In culturally advanced societies, the media plays a key role in internationalising their music and making global stars out of  their artists. As a result, music and the arts contribute significantly to national incomes in those societies. Locally, the media could do the same. The mass media should promote unity rather than sow division among musicians. I strongly feel that programmes such as, Gamba Remumhanzi, run by a local radio station are more divisive and destructive  than constructive.  The programme breeds family disunity as members fight for superiority.  Who will respect us if we spend most of our time castigating each other?  Musicians and the media should seek to build each other through positive criticism.  I am not against criticism where it is deserved but I am saying it must be fair and constructive.  It is against the rules of natural justice to criticise someone who is not there without giving him/her the opportunity to defend himself/ herself.

 Brenda Fassie, for all her musical talent, always courted controversy due to her unruly behaviour. But after her passing on, she has been elevated to national hero status by her followers and the South African media. That is really as it should be. Our arts industry here will not grow if we have a few individuals who think that bad news sells better. Let us correct the mistakes made by our music brothers and sisters without destroying the image of our industry. We must build the music industry rather than destroy it.  Gamba Remumhanzi programme is destroying our industry. For that reason, I call upon artists to sign a petition denouncing the Gamba Remumhanzi programme on National FM.

Those in public office dealing with artists must always treat artists as professionals. Looking down on artists should never be tolerated among those that are expected to serve them. Public servants who work with artists must be selected on the basis of their knowledge of arts as well as their zeal to see the arts sector succeeding.

The arts sector needs protection from the government now more than ever before. Piracy has become so rampant that artists are failing to get decent earnings from their creative work. Musicians invest a lot of money to produce music and my heart bleeds profusely when I see the rewards of the work of artists going into the wrong hands. I call upon the government to effectively enforce existing copyright laws and/or make new laws to plug holes in the current legislation. 

An African proverb says, “If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far go together”. Working together and love for one another will take us far as artists. We must stand together as one big family and speak with one voice. As former US President Lyndon B. Johnson said, “There are no problems we cannot solve together, and very few that we can solve by ourselves.”  We don’t want to keep hearing stories of discord and clashes among artists. Unity is essential for the development of the art sector.