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Musicians should fight own battles to develop themselves

Chipaz the music promoter. Photo credit: NewsDay

Arts Correspondent

When I think about the state of Zimbabwean musicians, my heart bleeds but looking closely at an incident that happened recently, I was made to think twice.

Zimbabwe is home to some musicians with the finest ideas ever. Most of these musicians, though not popular like the so-called big 5, have the sharpest reasoning capacity.

Here we are talking of the ones described as “not so popular and little known” artists like Simba Saini, Wellington Mareva, Edith Weutonga, Liversy Matamba, Lwazi Tshabangu, Tongai Taruona Chirandu and Florence Nyamazana aka Lionness among others.

These guys showed they have the balls after coming up with the ideas of forming Unions to represent Musicians and other artists. The Unions formed by these sharp-minded not “so popular musicians” are Zimbabwe Musicians Union (ZIMU) with Edith Weutonga being the chairperson, the  Creative Arts Union initially chaired by Wellington Mareva, deputised by Simba Saini with Tongai Tarubona Chirandu as Secretary-General. Also, there is COZA (Coalition OF Zimbabwean Artists) founded by Wellington Mareva, and Artists Of Hope founded by Simba Saini.

The first sign that showed me Zimbabwean Musicians don’t think objectively is when they fight for music promoters and managers to lead them. Unfortunately, these so-called musicians cannot differentiate between an artist and a businessman. Promoters and Managers are businessmen who will be making millions using a silly and stupid musician who doesn’t have a clue about his role as an entertainer.

Artists Unions and Associations are now hijacked by Promoters and Managers. Whatever is discussed at the Unions and/or Associations is taken up to the Promoters and in turn, the promoters who are fleecing musicians and other artists of their monies using their (artists) ideas fine-tune the ideas to suit what they want before implementation.

The latest example is the meeting that was held somewhere in Harare by Music Promoters, Music Managers, and Unions. ZIMU was represented by Baba Shupi and COZA was represented by Ian aka Huchi and Fred Finto. After the so-called participants deliberated on the problems bedeviling the arts industry – the unholy Union of Artists, Managers and Promoters agreed to take up their grievances to the Minister and later to the President’s Office and they chose Chipaz to be their mouthpiece since he had chaired the so-called meeting. Just after the meeting, it is alleged Chipaz went out of the meeting room and made some calls to the so-called “musicians with weight.” He came back and advised the meeting he was going to advise them of the convenient date to meet the Minister.

Very unfortunate for these other blinded participants, the next thing was to see the so-called Deputy Minister of Arts on television and in the Print media distributing cash to the weighty artists leaving those in need stranded.

Asked how this happened, Chipaz told the reporters, “We had to choose these artists because they are musical heavyweights and they can represent other musicians well as they have experience and names.”

My question is, who can explain better how sleeping on an empty stomach feels like, a king who is eating and drinking healthy stuff and a street kid who always goes to bed on an empty stomach?

My worry is, whoever was representing musicians and artists at that meeting betrayed his fellow poor mates big time. How can you entrust a hyena with the duty of a shepherd when you know very well the hyena is always looking for the next meal? How can you make Chipaz Artists and Musicians’ representative when you know this guy is always capitalizing on artistes’ weaknesses? He promotes the so-called “artistes with weight” and do you think he was going to be that stupid to call Huchi to come and get what his artists were getting?

When the uninformed Deputy Minister was dishing out the money to well-established musicians, what was going through his mind? Pamwe aitodawo kutorwa mapicture nemabig artists kuti anoratidza mukadzi wake kuti “nhasi ndabata ruoko rwaMacheso.”

Artists Unions and Associations must be led by Artists, not fans, Managers, or Promoters. As long as Zimbabwean artists are ignorant of their roles in the industry, they will remain poor and they will die poor and it doesn’t need a Rocket Scientist from Mars to tell us that.

Mukai vanhu imi. Chipaz is not a musician and Managers are not musicians. Managers are not musicians as such don’t let them lead you. Choose a leader from your own as you are well conversant with the problems that you encounter on daily basis as musicians and artistes. Managers are led by Managers as they know the challenges they face in running the affairs of the groups. Also, Promoters must lead Promoters’ association as they know the challenges they face when conning artistes.

Chpaz’s Response

I am the Chairman of the Zimbabwe Promoters Association formed a year ago and all along we have been trying to get the industry opened. We have written to the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ) before and they been very cooperative and very communicative. I was invited to a meeting of all associations 2 weeks ago arranged by Yasini Dhladha and in that meeting, I was appointed to be Chairman of that association.

In the meeting, we highlighted the need to take our issue further but we agreed we needed to rope in other seasoned artists who command respect and following who were not in the Zimbabwe Musicians Association.

I got hold of Macheso, Jah Prayzah, Winky D, the Charambas, Sulu, and Stunner to be part of the team to go and see officials in higher offices and we all agreed.

We quickly contacted the Minister of Arts after I roped in Mahwindo and a meeting was set for 1 pm the next day and this was set around 10 pm.

We got hold of these artists and included Ba Shupi who was in the meeting and the 2 guys who had called for the all-associations meeting.

When I highlighted the need to go and see the Minister with an entourage within the short space notice, I got resistance which started with Edith Weutonga who is in the UK who asked me why we were going with the likes Macheso, the Charambas etc yet this was agreed in the meeting. That caused a lot of confusion and around 12 pm, I proposed to the group to cancel the all-associations meeting until we had sorted our house and restored order.

I then advised members of my intention to see the Minister under another portfolio of Promoters as we also wanted to do the same. We then arranged to meet again with Minister on Tuesday in the company of promoters and the chosen initial artists while awaiting the all-associations group to come up with names they preferred. The meeting went ahead. It was a meeting for the sector because promoters can not work without artists.

About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende