Clive Malunga

MUSICIANS MUST BUILD POSITIVE IMAGE OF COUNTRY

Starting a career in music is not the easiest thing in the world. Often you have to wear more than one hat. You have to be an entrepreneur, employer, artist and marketer all at the same time. You must generate ideas, negotiate contracts, produce and record your music as well as promote it. These multiple roles played by one person mean you won’t  have time to relax. After working very hard, it is still possible that your first products may not be well received by the public. The survival trick is to learn to deal with your challenges and disappointments without being sidetracked from your main goal. Seek advice from established artists and others that may be willing to assist; persevere and never give up! Getting a mentor may help to reduce the pain of starting up and minimise the risk of failure. Today, I want to recount to you how I ventured into music. I hope that my story will inspire new artists who might be on the verge giving-up because of the challenges they are experiencing.  I also highlight some decisions I made along the course of my career which have made a big difference. 

I joined the music industry in 1985. Because information on music was not as easily available as it is now, I sought the assistance of people I knew whom I hoped would be able to help. I approached Comrade Charles Ndhlovu, who was the deputy minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Culture, who readily agreed to assist me. Cde Ndhlovu and the late Cde Mike Munyati introduced me to the late Mr Zexie Manatsa in Southerton. Mr Zexie Manatsa agreed to help me with my rehearsals and studio recording.  I rehearsed with the Green Arrows Band for almost six months.  The Green Arrows Band at that time consisted of Sabastian Manatsa on lead guitar, Stanely Manatsa on bass guitar, Costa on rhythm guitar and Mudhara Mabhehw’ani who assisted me with the arrangement of my first two songs.

My first studio recording was with the Green Arrows Band in the presence of Cde Charles Ndhlovu, Cde Mike Munyati and Mukoma Zexie Manatsa. During the recording, Cde Charles Ndhlovu instructed Bothwell Nyamondera (the studio producer) to put the music on tape so that he ( Cde Charles Ndhlovu) would find some brass section players who were supposed to enhance the two songs. 

Besides being deputy minister, Cde Ndhlovu was also director of Film Production Services which was based in Newlands. I made several visits to his office to find out the progress with the enhancement of the records. Surprisingly, each time he would refuse to see me until he instructed his receptionist not to talk to me and the premises guards to bar me from entering the offices. I made more vain attempts to recover my tape but even more perplexingly, Cde Ndhlovu started denying ever getting a tape from me.

I reported the issue at ZANU (PF) HQ  to Cde Mayor Urimbo who tried his best to solve the matter amicably, but to no avail.  Many comrades became aware of my predicament and one of the comrades at ZANU (PF) HQ advised me to confront Cde Charles Ndhlovu at Parliament during a parliamentary session.

I arrived at Parliament before a parliamentary session had started.  Some guards who knew me allowed me to enter in order to talk to the deputy minister. When he saw me, Cde Ndhlovu instructed the security agents to take me out of Parliament Building. Only, the timely intervention of Cde Morris Nyagumbo saved my situation. Cde Hebert Mahlaba also joined us when I had just started narrating the problem. Cde Ndhlovu was ordered to return my cassette and I collected it the following day from Cde Hebert Mahlaba’s office. I could not go back to the Green Arrows Band for personal reasons. I then approached the Blues Revolution at Machipisa Night Club and all the band members agreed to assist me with my music recording.  It has been quite a journey! Music, like all creative endeavours, requires someone with a thick skin.

Development refers to a myriad of strategies adopted for the transformation of society from existing or current states to desired states. The concept encompasses multiple dimensions such as political participation, economic growth, cultural awareness, social cohesion, gender equity, improved life expectancy and access to health and education. This broad view of development means national progress is not something society can assign to be the responsibility of only certain categories of people such as politicians, economists and business executives. All people have different roles  to play to bring about development.  We are either jointly responsible for achievement of national progress or jointly culpable for the lack of it.

 Musicians have a role to play in the process of national development as promoters of social cohesion , propagators of national culture, preachers of patriotism  and builders of “national confidence. ” While musicians have a right to belong to political parties of their choices, such affiliations should never blind them from national aspirations.  Political parties come and go; the people and their culture are more enduring. Musicians must help build a positive image of our country and, through their voices, dances, trumpets and percussions, seek to improve the welfare of Zimbabweans.

The land must reverberate with sounds that promote unity, love, peace and harmony. Our songs, our dances and indeed all our arts must also strongly condemn corruption which has become very rampant in our society. Music must seek the restoration of uprightness, patriotism, the fear of God and national pride.

Since I became a musician, I have made it my responsibility to partner the state in building the country and solving problems of great concern to society.  I urge all artists to contribute towards national good rather than choose to antagonize and undermine the state. Here is a synopsis of some of the contributions I have made.

In 1986, I donated all my royalties of the popular song ‘Commander’ to the Zimbabwe-Mozambique Friendship Association (ZIMOFA). The money was meant for the support Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) who were guarding the Mutare to Beira oil pipeline during the Mozambican civil war.  Beira is our nearest port and thus the Beira corridor is the cheapest route to bring goods into Zimbabwe. 

Jenaguru Arts Centre went further by honouring men and women who perished while fighting for the liberation of our country.  We donated substantial amounts of money to the ruling party to contribute towards the reburial of the brave sons and daughters who were buried in shallow unmarked graves. We cannot forget those who sacrificed for us. I urge all musicians with a clear conscience to join the crusade. It is us the people of Zimbabwe who must recognise, thank and celebrate the lives of our heroes.

 Jenaguru was later invited by the Mozambican government in conjunction with ZIMOFA to tour Chimoio, Beira and Tete where we played music and entertained the armed forces of Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

After my tour of Mozambique that was sponsored by ZIMOFA, I was invited to entertain members of the Zimbabwean government at the Sheraton Hotel. I was backed by the Harare Mambos Band and what an unforgettable moment for me it was!

Musicians should learn to take a position even if the position is difficult but necessary for the benefit of the nation. Jenaguru has a good relationship with the Zimbabwe Defence Forces up to this day because of what we did many years ago. When I approached the then Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF), the late Cde Vitalis (Gava) Zvinavashe for assistance to shoot the Nesango video, it was not difficult for me get the support. Presently, the Joint Operation Command has asked me to produce a war movie called Nesango. The shooting of the film started in 2020 and is still going on.

The Government of Zimbabwe has indicated great intention to promote local culture and arts by including ‘culture and arts subjects’ such Heritage Studies and Visual and Performing Arts   in the national school curriculum and by setting up a ministry with a culture mandate from 1980. The government’s noble intentions have, however, not been adequately translated into the provision of resources and infrastructure to promote the arts. In my view, the main challenge has been on the selection of the people who lead the ministry responsible for the arts.

Since independence, ministers who do not have  in-depth knowledge of our arts and culture have been chosen to lead the ministry with an arts mandate. Having PhDs or master’s degrees, as I see it, do not suffice to make one knowledgeable about our culture. It’s high time the appointing authority should consider normalising the arts and culture sector by appointing an accomplished artist or cultural practitioner to head the ministry. A people in any given situation is identified by their languages, songs, dress, literature, musical instruments and dances. Thus, this issue needs urgent redress.

I have travelled extensively to Japan and South Korea. In those countries the arts and culture are taken seriously.  There is massive public investment in infrastructure and technologies that promote the arts. Consequently, South Korean films and dances are recognised the world over. I believe we can do as much if not  better,  here because  we have a very rich and diversified culture.  We must be proud to be Zimbabwean.