Clive Malunga

Mrs. Takahashi: Relentlessly Supporting the Cause

Since 1990 and for a period spanning almost 30 years now, Mrs. Tomoko Takahashi has been a great inspiration behind the work of Jenaguru Arts Centre. She is a Japanese citizen and, co-founder and managing director of Jenaguru Arts Centre.

The incredible woman encouraged me to do many things: to support fellow musicians who may be experiencing some difficulties, to continue with my education, to love humankind, to love nature, to love pets, to work hard, to learn to express gratitude, to apologise when I am wrong, to be humble, to always tell the truth, to self-introspect when things go wrong, to be humble and to be God-fearing. Although I have not accomplished all the above, I am trying my best.

 Mrs. Tomoko Takahashi persuaded me to stop smoking cigarettes and marijuana and to stop drinking beer. When I was at Samacueza Training Camp in Mozambique, I used to smoke Chikwadzi, some loose type of tobacco popularly known as Chimonera in Zimbabwe. At times, by chance I would smoke Mozambican tobacco brands like Polana and 777. I went to the extent of smoking cigars. These were so damaging that one would feel chest pains after smoking them. I also smoked marijuana. When we returned home after the war, I not only continued smoking, but also started peddling marijuana for a living. I was very popular with many musicians because I supplied them with the best weed in town. I used to bring the weed into the country from Malawi and Mozambique. Weed from the Gorongoza area of Mozambique became particularly popular because it could really knock one down or take someone to cloud nine.   Mrs. Takahashi advised me that taking alcohol and weed would impair my judgement on many issues in life. Life would also be shortened by smoking either cigarettes or marijuana. She encouraged me to avoid taking toxic things.

Smoking made me feel and think that I was extremely clever and knew everything. That is hallucination. I used to frequent most night clubs with the best sounds and DJs in town. I would attend disco sessions every week on a Friday or Saturday at Shantels, Archipelago, Bes Disco owned by Baba Bester Kanyama (the Zimbabwe master photographer), Scamps International with the popular DJs Sattie and Biscuit, and Bretts with DJ Josh Makawa. I deluded myself, thinking that I was enjoying myself. I drank and smoked for 14 years. I regret those wasted years. Mrs. Takahashi told me that my judgement was excellent when I am sober.

 Mrs. Takahashi San, as she is popularly known in our music circles, also taught me about healthy eating. She advised me to reduce salt, cooking oil and sugar in my diet.  I completely stopped drinking tea with sugar about 20 years ago.

 I was introduced to the gym for physical training and I have been going to the gym for close to 20 years now. Regular exercise has helped me keep fit.

 I had some habits which I was barely conscious of when I was growing up. For example, I would lick my lower lip when I was spreading jam or margarine on a piece of bread. I was advised to extinguish the habit.  I struggled with it but I am almost done now.

One habit I am still struggling with is my voice control. When I am talking to other people my voice suddenly goes full blast. Mrs. Takahashi says people are judged by how they manage to control their voices. Sometimes I wonder whether this uncontrolled voice came from my ancestors, the Chikunda people! They are known for shouting when they are angered. Or is it because I stayed in a farm community or was it a result of my exposure to so many different characters during the liberation war? It could be a result of the combination of all three.  I am still trying my level best to overcome the problem.

Zimbabwe has benefited immensely from Mrs. Takahashi who has been behind the scenes since 1990. Her immeasurable support contributed to the success of the Jenaguru Music Festivals and the recording of Sekuru Gora, Ambuya Beaula Dyoko, Kuda Henry Matimba, and the Tembo Brothers (John Junior, Simba and Knowledge Chibadura). She has supported the purchase of tombstones for a number of Zimbabwean musicians who passed on.

She is the brains behind the Asian tours by the Jenaguru Music and Dance Group and the production of two books: Zimbabwe and Harvest Time. She is the brains behind Jenaguru’s programme for paying school fees for all children who take part in Jenaguru’s cultural exchange tours.

With my assistance, Mrs. Takahashi coordinated the shooting of a film at the Great Zimbabwe monument by a reputable film crew from Japan. I also assisted in organising the shooting of a documentary film of the Doma people in the Kanyemba area of Mbire. Mr. Kanyemba Bonzo (KB) National FM Dj, assisted us with the logistics and introduced us to Chief Chapoto of Kanyemba.

 When we encountered many difficulties in raising money to build Jenaguru Arts Centre, Mrs. Takahashi changed our strategy by mobilising her home fan base to contribute towards the establishment of Jenaguru Arts Centre.  Many well-wishers in Japan came on board to support the cause. The Jenaguru Fan Club and supporters contributed immensely to kick start the construction of the Centre.

This unsung heroine has remained focused since the establishment of Jenaguru Arts Centre. I see this woman with such a high spirit as God-sent. She wants to see Jenaguru contributing in a very significant way to the development of the arts sector in Zimbabwe.

I am very happy that many Jenaguru members have utilised the support they have received by furthering their education up to university level. This is the story of Mrs. Takahashi’s contribution in developing our country in general and Zimbabwean arts in particular.