Clive Malunga

Twice back-stabbed by the people I was trying to help.

After the highly successful Jenaguru Music Festival of 1992, I felt lonely in the sense that most of my fellow musicians were not part of the festival’s organising team. I was of the view that for the Festival, codenamed Zimbabwe Musicians’ Day, to have a national outlook, many musicians needed to participate in the process of organising it. I wanted all musicians who took part in the festival to feel that it was their annual day. I thought very hard about ways and means of involving all musicians. It was difficult to bring all musicians into Jenaguru Arts Centre administration because Jenaguru is a private company co-owned by Tomoko and myself. I had a difficult time trying to find a proper formula of incorporating musicians, especially the established ones, into the festival administration so that as a group we would have a stronger voice.

Jenaguru Music Festival 1992

I had a national vision for the festival. The festival had to be not only a forum to showcase Zimbabwean artistic talent, but also a vehicle to expose budding musicians to many music fans and promote collegiality among musicians. I wanted musicians to interact among themselves and cooperate for their personal wellbeing and the development of the music industry. The festival would also help the music industry to cooperate with other sectors which are key to the success of the industry namely media, National Arts Council, Ministry of Arts, Sports and Culture, record companies, record bars and the national airline.

I decided to ask the Zimbabwe Union of Musicians (ZUM) to work with me in organising the Jenaguru Music Festival. Many stakeholders thought it was a good idea because it would garner a lot of support from many sponsors(donors). I consulted with the Musicians Union that was led by Michael Francis Sekerani at that time. The entire leadership of the Union of Musicians was based in Bulawayo. Mr. Sekerani agreed with my proposal that the Jenaguru Music Festival can be held under the auspices of the Zimbabwe Union of Musicians while being promoted by Jenaguru Arts Centre.

We later realised that the Zimbabwe Union of Musicians executive no longer had authority to represent musicians in Zimbabwe because its term of office had long expired. In fact, owing to that lack of mandate, the Zimbabwe Union of Musicians had technically ceased to exist. After a lengthy discussion with the Bulawayo Union of Musicians, we all agreed that fresh elections should be held in Bulawayo. I provided sponsorship for the Union elections.

A team of Harare based musicians travelled to Bulawayo to contest the elections. The team comprised of the following: Samaita Zindi, Trevor Hall, Jonah Sithole and myself. I provided the transport and subsistence money for the travelling party. While in Harare, we all agreed that I would contest for the chairmanship, Samaita Zindi would seek the position of Secretary General and Jonah Sithole that of Treasurer. Trevor Hall wanted to be just a committee member because he was not yet a Zimbabwean citizen and wasn’t quite sure if he was to be granted the citizenship.

 I carried my colleagues in my Homy luxury minibus. I provided food and drinks on the way. We arrived in Bulawayo a day before the elections and we were welcomed by the chairman and a host of other musicians. I was very tired after driving all the way to Bulawayo so I quickly excused myself from others. I left my colleagues chatting with the other Bulawayo based musicians.

The following day was election day. We woke up early to prepare for the contest. We gathered at the venue of the elections. I felt very tense because it was my first time to challenge a number of candidates for the chairman’s post.  Just before the voting, a musician from Bulawayo came to me and informed me that Samaita Zindi and Trevor Hall had been de-campaigning me the whole evening. He told me that they had said I was not suitable for the position but Jonah Sithole was. I could not believe the story. I thought it was a false story meant to derail my campaign.

Then the elections to choose the executive which would lead the Union for the next five years started. When the time to elect the Chairman came, I discovered that my colleagues from Harare were not on my side. They nominated Jonah Sithole for the position and so the contest ended up being between Michael Sekerani and Jonah Sithole. Sithole lost to Sekerani by a very wide margin.

When it came to the deputy chairman’s position, the Bulawayo side nominated me against Samaita Zindi. I was overwhelmingly voted the deputy chairman of the union. I could see that my colleagues from Harare were not happy. I learned a big lesson from that Bulawayo trip. I realised that in as much as you try very hard to be kind and help people, others might view your kindness as a weakness.

When it was time to vote for secretary general I nominated Samaita Zindi. This is exactly what we had agreed before our departure to Bulawayo. I persuaded many musicians from Bulawayo to vote for Samaita Zindi. He was voted as Secretary General unopposed. I also nominated Jonah Sithole and Trevor Hall as committee members. They were all voted into office as committee members.

 After the conclusion of the elections we took the road back to Harare. On our return trip, things were fine for me because I had not travelled empty-handed. I could feel the tension in the car from my friends who had shamelessly and openly betrayed me. We had nothing to talk about on our way back to Harare. I played music to keep myself alert. The Homy minibus was one of its own kind at that time. My Japanese friends who had toured Africa from Tanzania, Zambia, South Africa and Zimbabwe had given it to me as a donation towards Jenaguru Music Festival. Leonard Zhakata later persuaded me to sell it to him and I did.

The Zimbabwe Union of Musicians executive committee was now in place. The union didn’t have any money. However, I felt equipped and strengthened by the position I held in the Union. At that time, I was one of the directors on the Zimbabwe Music Rights Association (ZIMURA) board. I did not take time to act on behalf of the musicians. I asked the musicians to sign a petition authorizing ZIMURA to pay rentals for a Zimbabwe Union of Musicians office in Harare. Once that was accomplished, I persuaded Chairman Sekerani to relocate to Harare and he didn’t waste time in coming. We managed to find a beautiful office at Equity House. ZIMURA paid rent for the Union offices for almost a year.

With the Chairman of Zimbabwe Union of Musicians now in Harare, we started organising the Jenaguru Music Festival together. I drove around Harare with the chairman and secretary general showing them how a big festival of such magnitude should be organised. At that time, I was studying marketing at Graduate Diploma Level at Speciss College. Later on we were joined by Mr. Bulk (David Chiyangwa) and Moses Kabubi from Lubumbashi Stars. Mr. Bulk would offer his car and many a times would take us to Highfield (MaStones) to have our lunch there. He would also give me his car keys, for me to drive his car.

As we drew closer to the music festival, things took an unexpected turn. Mr. Sekerani started telling any musician who would come looking for me that I was no longer the deputy chairman of the Zimbabwe Union of Musicians. In no time, I was shocked to find out that the entire organising team had turned against me for no apparent reason. I later learnt that they wanted to take full charge of the festival. They thought that they could make a lot of money. Prior to their decision to sideline me, I had taught them some basic fundamentals of organising a huge festival like the Zimbabwe Musicians’ Day such as hire of venue, hire of a good public address system, posters, flyers, banners, stage preparation, advertising and contracts for all musicians to perform. They thought they had everything they needed to run the festival without my involvement.  Although I never received a letter informing me of the end my tenure as deputy chairman, through their conduct, the other executive members had kicked me out of the Union.

After all the work I had done for the Union of Musicians I decided to end the friendship completely by beating Mr. Sekerani for betrayal and cowardice. I was the one who had booked Gwanzura Stadium, so they didn’t have enough powers to prevent me from operating during the musical festival. I decided to engage Chibuku Breweries to sell their commodity at the venue. Chibuku Breweries would provide a big tent at their cost and Chibuku beer at wholesale price. The wholesale price for one scud of beer was 50c but I would retail it at thrice the price. At this particular show I made a substantial profit from the sale of beer.  Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Union of Musicians lost a lot of potential revenue through poor manning of the gates.  It was their first time; they didn’t know how to do it. Because of the huge losses they suffered, they were not keen to continue organising the event. From that time, the Zimbabwe Union of Musicians started dying a slow and painful death. The following year I resumed the Jenaguru Music Festival.

Jenaguru Music Festival Preparations

In Zimbabwe we need regular training workshops and seminars for musicians. The business and professional side of musicians is non-existent. A lot needs to be done to help musicians if the music sector is to make meaningful contributions to the country’s development.

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