Clive Malunga

I STAND WITH MUKUDZEI MUKOMBE

The hardest burden I have ever had to bear was being misunderstood by my friends. There is nothing stranger, more awkward and more frustrating than a friend you are trying to assist holding misperceptions about your motives. It is awfully painful when the mistrust is being created by a third party with a hidden agenda. Then, you really wonder why your friend is agreeing to be turned against you. I found myself in such a situation in the past. In 2005, I lobbied the Ministry of Industry and Commerce via  Zimtrade to include Cde Dick Chingaira ( AKA Cde Chinx) and Cde Max Mapfumo in my band that was set to perform at the Aichi World Exposition 2005. The then director of Production Services, Cde Justice Dhliwayo agreed. We all felt that war veteran artists had never been given an opportunity to market Zimbabwe at such big fora . However, the then Zimtrade Chief Executive Officer, Ms Elizabeth Nerwande, had other ideas.  She said she would only have Jenaguru Band without Cde Chinx and Cde Max Mapfumo. To press her to include my fellow comrades, I said I wouldn’t go without them. When Ms Nerwande realised that I was adamant about going with the duo, she decided to drop me and my band and go with only Cde Chinx and Cde Max Mapfumo instead. She had a meeting with them and I wonder what she told them that immediately drew a wedge between my colleagues and me. My fellow comrades suddenly turned against me.  That I was the one who had come up with the idea of  going to Aichi World Expo Japan, as a group of three singers backed by Jenaguru Music Band did not matter to them anymore. We had even recorded a promo for the Expo together in English, Ndebele, Shona and Japanese.  My managing director and I had even arranged to tour Japan with the two comrades after the Aichi Expo to introduce them to a new audience which I thought they lacked. I never expected my fellow comrades to turn against me in that spectacular fashion. Rehearsals for the Aichi Expo were conducted at the National Sports Stadium for two weeks. I observed that administrators from the Ministry of Industry and Commerce were not worried about the act and how it would look like in front of an international audience.  Most of them were  just excited about a  lifetime chance to go to Japan and getting hefty allowances. I bought my own tickets for all the Jenaguru Band members to fly to Aichi Expo 2005.  I arrived at Aichi Expo with my musical group three days after all the other members of the Zimbabwean team had already reached Japan. When I visited the Zimbabwe stand, no one wanted to talk to me and my group. Zimtrade had created a big schism between me and my fellow comrades. The only person who stood by me during the Aichi World Exposition 2005 was Chief Chiyadzwa. He was at the Expo showcasing his curio artefacts and felt sorry about how I was illtreated. I was both baffled and worried to find that Zimbabwe’s dance group performed to recorded music during their given time on stage. Before the Expo my Japanese friends and I had written two books about the beauty of Zimbabwe.  I thought it was appropriate at such an occasion to use the books to market Zimbabwe. Ms Nerwande and her confidante, Mr Munyaradzi Hwengwere , refused the offer saying they could write better. On seeing that my own country was snubbing me, Japanese government officials invited me to perform at their expo stand. I, in turn, invited my fellow Zimbabweans to come and support me with  their presence during my performance.  Not even one official or artist came. The Zimbabwean team at World Expo 2005 stayed at Hilton Hotel, one of Japan’s most expensive hotels. By comparison, the American and British teams were staying at cheaper hotels. Zimbabwean officials were focused on personal satisfaction: marketing the country seemed secondary to them. The officials leading the team were busy scouting for cars (they went to the Toyota manufacturing plant in Aichi) and never cared about what happened at the Expo. One day, I confronted Ms Nerwande and Mr Munyaradzi Hwengwere and threatened to expose them through CNN and BBC that they were failing the nation of Zimbabwe. After realising that I was not bluffing, they called me to Hilton Hotel and  Ms Abgail Dhamasane ( their treasurer) gave me a sealed envelope. I opened it latter and found out that they were trying to silence me with a bribe of US$6000. The positive result of my confrontation with the Zimtrade officials was that the next day my band and I were invited to play live music at the Zimbabwe stand. From then on, activity and human traffic at the stand significantly improved. After the Expo I remained in Japan with my band to tour many different places in Japan. However, when I returned from Japan, I went to see Honourable Mumbengegwi who was then Minister of Industry and Commerce and reported everything that had happened at Aichi Expo. Later, the Minister did his own investigations which confirmed my story.   In my view, the World Exposition, like all international cultural tours, is used as a money making venture for the officials of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and Zimtrade. Yet, these platforms must help the country to market itself. People given the honour of working for the country must do so selflessly. As I see it, the institutions that have a mandate to support the arts in Zimbabwe have a notoriety for having officials who mostly pursue their personal interests at the expense of national interest. The government must put a stop to this. The National Arts Council of Zimbabwe is grossly underperforming.  It does not have any comprehensive  “on the ground programme” to develop the arts in the country. Their “paper programmes ” are not visible on the ground. Rather than being a body that is highly active for the development of the arts sector, the Council has become a conduit for siphoning national resources for the personal benefit of officials. They do not consult artists on anything, yet they are supposed to work with artists to uplift artists and develop the country.  After observing all the shortcomings of the National Arts Council, I collected all the useless granite trophies they had been awarding me back to their offices. All the granite trophies they award artists are not supported by decent cheques. A trophy ought to be accompanied by a reasonable sum of money as a way of appreciating as well as empowering the artist.  I appreciate very well why Jah Prayzah has decided to distance himself from the National Arts Council awards. The awards are meaningless and a mockery to the arts industry. Awards must be meaningful. Jenaguru awarded Thomas Mapfumo a 21 carat gold star, written “Thomas Mapfumo- King of Chimurenga Music”. Recently Jenaguru built a mausoleum, including a statue, worth US$20 000 for Tinei Chikupo. Musicians must be honoured in a way that shows their true value and which does not depreciate them.