Harmony Singers host Gonzaga Chamber Singers (USA)

Harmony Singers host Gonzaga Chamber Singers (USA)

Its not everyday when the earthy and heavy african vocals meet with the well formed premier sounds of a chamber choir from the United States of America to produce a show, such as never been seen before in the country. If you are a music lover, the Unclouded: Music for hope Zim/USA is moving evidence of an existence of great  choral movement within the country that deserves due recognition and must have every Zimbabwean proud and excited. I wouldn’t miss it if I were you.

Zimbabweans are extremely lucky and they just haven’t realised it yet. On Friday the 3oth of May, this Chitungwiza based choir, straight from the dusty streets will collaborate in a show with the Gonzaga Chamber Singers in a music show that will not only be a chance to bring together two unique group of voices but celebrate a choral music movement in the country that has far too long been suppressed and played second fiddle to many other music forms that have been given precedence.

I am blessed to have witnessed, in my lifetime, a choir that has achieved as much as the Chitungwiza Harmony Singers and yet is still just an ordinary choral group with very little musical status such as that which is given any other artist like Oliver Mtukudzi. If anyone deserved such high recognition, this would have been my number 1 choice of choir.

Friday the 30th of May will once again mark a great day in the choirs history as they sing alongside this premier ‘choral ensemble consisting of 26-28 voices drawn from the Gonzaga University Choir whose choral literature focuses on chamber works that are unaccompanied or with chamber accompaniment. Some of their major performances include concerts and national and international tours such as spring 2010 where the Chamber Singers performed in Shanghai and Beijing on its China tour.’ (GU website)

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The Gonzaga University Concert Choir. Members of the Chamber Chorus are traditionally drawn from the Concert Choir. GU photo by Edward Bell

Their African tour has seen them travel to Zambia and the finale tone marked for Zimbabwe with CHS at the National Art Gallery for what should be a great unmissable show. During their tour of these two neighbouring countries, Gonzaga has participated in musical exchanges and performances with high school and university choirs, sang at Masses and other public venues. Timothy Westerhaus (director and voice coach) developed the choir’s first intercultural exchange and engagement tour in 2015 in Bogotá and Cali, Colombia, one of the first U.S. collegiate choir tours in the region.’ (According to Gonzaga website).

CHS is a choir that has not only stood the test of time since its creation in 1993 by the late, award winning Israel Dzangare but has produced three albums, collaborated with various artists within the country and has achieved repetitive success within regional competitions traditionally held in South Africa and hosted by Old Mutual. In 2016, for the first time ever, they were solely responsible for bringing the Limpopo version of the competitions to Harare which is a result of hard work and growth from within the choir resulting in the formation of other choral groups.

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Chitungwiza Harmony in concert. Pic (CHS Facebook page)

Here is a snippet of the rehearsal just to wet your appetite and if this doesn’t move to be at the National Art Gallery in Harare at 6pm, then no other music will.

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Where is Tocky and his Vibes?

Where is Tocky and his Vibes?

The last time I saw a Tocky Vibes show I almost vomited. I can still taste the bitter after taste. A mashed attempt of a performance that I regretted paying for and with all the push around his artistry, I was left to wonder if he was indeed the ‘king’ he crowned himself to be or just the hit and run, half baked mediocre artist everyone fears falling in love with and inevitably loath.

Even his Facebook post dated 24 May says it all, “… get ready for new projects”, a statement that can easily be an attempt to wet an appetite of the many sympathisers who might just have lost interest.

His last album in 2016, Tirabhuru, poorly received compared to his first offerings should be an eye opener. No one paid attention to it as if it never exists. Zimbabwe’s diverse audience has no loyalty to a brand or artist and two years is a huge amount of time to leave them waiting. With the music scene awash with new players penetrating into the hearts of many music lovers hoping to keep them hooked, it is really a battle for top honours and a race to the crown. At the moment, Tocky is nowhere near contention,

Vibes could have easily remained afloat with his soulful and loveable ballads that favoured no gender or age. He had grown folk falling for his artistry while the youths saw him as a somewhat musical messiah. Many of his peers, who through the ills begotten by the country, needing no politician or international aid but words of encouragement from one fellow ghetto boy to the other have sought refuge in his lyrics. It is an all too familiar rags to riches story from the boy who was born in a ghetto called Rugare, a stone throw away from Kambuzuma where Winky D was born, defying the odds and singing his way into the hearts of many. But, could he slipping and giving way to many others?

It seems, judging by the works produced by his main rival, Winky D, that he has all but lost the battle.

At 24, surely he has a bright future ahead of him but runs the risk of dwindling into obscurity and needing a search party to rescue. One can only wait for so long without a production and I simply cannot stand his experimentation of sound even with afro jazz and other genres.

The show I mentioned in the beginning of this piece saw him receive a beer can or two in his face after he attempted to dazzle and croon his way out of a much hyped new year’s gig with some mbira, drum and almost trance like performance whilst seated on a huge chair with no socks on! He soon realised the paying mob hath fury.

A part of me wants to give him time, he could soon be back on our playlists again, with a dash of self-revelation. True musicians are not hurried into producing a track, infact the greatest music has been made by investing enough time on it. However, may artists have sunk deeper into oblivion by try to surpass their previous works and losing a footing in the race. He simply has to work on avoiding the latter.

There is a somewhat mediocre bone lodged in his musical anatomy. He has the ability to create great work such as similar to many great artists that have graced the country before him if he searches deep enough within himself. Some of his tracks have simply been too much a lean towards the feel and make of his hit song, Mhai.

I can simply deduce a great artist by the frequency to make hit songs (well thats how we all can) and for him to fall into this category, he has to go beyond just spending time in the studio and creating quality masterpieces. Today’s artists lack professional coaching, a musical ear during their creation processes and constructive critiques. Many have gone on to produce music under the influences of various other stuff including their eagerness to receive radio play and popularity, which is the deadliest form of motivation to any musician.

For long the country has been described as the reggae nation but I guess the many artists that have assumed this genre as a source of living and inspiration have failed to make a single trip to Jamaica as a source of inspiration or study, to get an understanding of where it all began. This I think is a must do in any true and genuine reggae artist.

The Zim-ragga music space is the largest in terms of revenue and following and as such many artists have emerged and are making a living out of it. Yearly, millions of dollars are spent on producing, marketing and performance of the genre, much loved by Zimbabweans all over the world. Their constant appetite for the music feeds these artists into creating more music and such is the circle of life.

Barely four years after his emergence, asking the question of whether he is still relevant might be a bit debatable but I am convinced he has pockets of musical genius in him that he needs dig deep to find within himself to once again come to charm the many of his lovers.

Time will tell.

 

Jah Prayzah swimming with the big fish

Jah Prayzah swimming with the big fish

Whatever Jah Prayzah lacks as an artist to appeal to me, he certainly makes up through effort and the willingness to never settle. He has got to be the hardest working artist in Zimbabwe right now and inevitably the man of the moment.

I certainly should not be the person showering praise to the singer as not so long ago on this very platform, I gasped at his winning of the MTV Award and was convinced it was a fluke. I could have easily went on with that angle and talk about this award winning moment as being the very same reason we have seen the guy travel all over the continent working with big artists like Mafikizolo, Davido and Diamond Platnumz and create hits that even he could never have imagined.

Within a short space of time, Jah Prayzah has managed to do what he loves best, that is create hits and be the tall, eye catching artist he has dreamt of being. When I met him within the hall of Bob Nyabinde’s workshop in Harare, the then tall scrawny looking mbira wielding artist shed off more passion than the need to make a quick buck as many of his counterparts in the country. Since then he has evolved into something like an icon and gracing big stages in the region and he can’t seem to stop.

This weekend, Jah Prayzah is the main feature amongst a cast that I adore and have revered throughout my years when he plays at the Bassline Africa Day Concert in Johannesburg amongst Thandiswa Mazwai (SA), Bombino (NE), Baloji (DRC), Ray Phiri (SA), Vusi Mahlasela (SA), Jobo About (Ghana), Petite Noir (Belgium/SA) and Jobie Clarke (SA) with more acts being confirmed regularly.

Rubbing shoulders with greats such as Ray Phiri, Vusi Mahlasela and Thandiswa Mazwai is not only a great feat but should be worrisome to any artist. The large crowd that listen to them are also listening to you and you have to impress if not steal the show to just about make good headline for yourself. That said, I think its a challenge he can tackle, however I am not sure if the whole ‘masoja’ outfit thing can be brought on stage and wow the crowd. we just have to wait and see.

Read more about the show here : http://www.kayafm.co.za/bassline-africa-day-concert-2017/#1492602954598-b5e80c08-2ea7

Jah is also set to release a single with Davido soon which promises to work well in his favour and if his number one single with Mafikizolo on the African Charts is anything to judge him by, it might be a scorcher.

                            Foreign

                            Foreign

By Mudhanganyi

What un-qualifies me? What makes me a stranger?

What makes me the different strand, one queer block posing danger

My dialect, tone, ascent, color?

My birthplace, president or unasssuming demeanor

Why does it seem I alone has to face the culler?

I am known by my many things,

Never of the good ones

But mostly insults, and of them lashings.

My armpits smell

Simple etiquette, it seems, I don’t do to well.

Brothers we are, sisters we are

Inlaws we have become but still demarcated

Geographically and emotionally our hearts be the landmark

It’s a sad tale,

What a bloody, poor heartbreak.

Scapegoat, spoiler, wrecker, taker

Invader, looter, undesired heartbreaker

Asylum seeker, expatriate

Names I’m given when all I pray for is that we relate.

What happened to love

What happened to Ubuntu

If we can’t, forward we can never

But there’s a good ending, if willing, and it begins with you.

Zim MP’s salary hike is bollocks!

Zim MP’s salary hike is bollocks!

I simply cannot deduce the IQ of MP’s in Zimbabwe, who against the background of a failing economy, a non existent currency, severe cash shortages and an invisible presence in the communities that they represent, find it appropriate to ‘push’ for a raise and compare themselves with other parliaments who, the last time I checked, where in actual fact putting in some work towards their constituencies than they are.

Read more here on their exploits to bleed the country dry.

The World Economic Forum publishes a report yearly titled “The Global Information Technology Report which examines the increasing proliferation of technology and its effects on advancing global prosperity. Zimbabwe, which is obviously a part of this world today, is also probed and there is just one word that best describes the figures released here, stupid!

Firstly, comparing yourself with other African parliamentarians when you don’t put in the work is foolishness. The Zimbabwean parliament is poorly ranked that it doesn’t even qualify for a salary at all.

MP’s in the once was bread basket have failed to deliver in all aspects of their job and only exist to milk the tax payer’s coffers with fancy suits, expensive tastes, womanising, napping during sessions, atrocious arguments and lack of understanding of issues debated within the house. In the end the country never gets their money’s worth and the masses suffer while they drive around in expensive fancy cars wearing the finest suits.

I have put in the text below comparisons between earnings and effectiveness of the houses coupled with their rankings within this report produced by the World Economic Forum in 2016. This will make us understand how outrageous their cry for an increment is and how untimely unjustified it is.

Botswana is the highest ranked amongst other law makers in its effectiveness to at 29 out of 139 with a value of 4.5 out of 7. Their Judiciary Independence is at 36 out of 139 and valued 4.8 out of 7. Within the region, Botswana is highly placed and is well deserving of a raise than any other.

Judiciary Independence is the concept that the judiciary needs to be kept away from the other branches of government. That is, courts should not be subject to improper influence from the other branches of government, or from private or partisan interests.

South African law makers are ranked 32 out 139 and giving them a good value score of 4.4 out of a possible 7.  They also score a Judicial Independence score of 24 out of 139, valued at 5,4. They come second in the shout to get a raise.

Uganda is ranked 51/139 with a value of 4. Judiciary Independence at 91/139 with a value of 3.4 out of 7.

Kenya’s parliament is ranked at 60 out of 139 and with a value of 3,9 out of 7. Judiciary Independence on 61/139 and with a value ranking of 4,1/7

Tanzania parliament is ranked 63 in the world out 139 and valued at 3,8 out of 7. Judiciary Independence is ranked 89/139 with a value of 3.4/7.

All of these countries have come about after Nelson Chamisa, the Chairperson of the Sub-committee on Legal and Procedural Services compared their salaries with the countries above. It seems there is no other indicator that can show us how the Zimbabwean parliament’s effectiveness other than the one created by the World Economic Forum and if these law makers where in any way fully responsible in their duties, one could feel for them, but when there are not (as it is the case); the increment is not justified!

The Zimbabwean Parliament is the worst ranked within the region at 91/139 and valued at 3.4 out of 7. Its Judiciary Independence is outrageously ranked at 115 and lowly valued at 2,7 out of 7. If these were school grades, it would be an outright fail.

There is nothing more revolting as a group of adults who have very little idea at the lack of influence they have had in society and yet think highly of themselves and think to make themselves even more flamboyant with tax players hard earnings.

The nation has been struggling to take care of its own educated professionals such as doctors, nurses and artisans and have seen a major labour migration to surrounding countries. If anything, the government needs to cut down on expenditure and look at ways of having it function with fewer leadership positions in government and find ways of retaining skilled labour force. Certainly not by increasing parliamentary salaries at the expense of the many other critical areas within the country that need to be looked at with speed.

In today’s world, if we are to ask for a salary increment, in a normal professional setting, one would look at their value and work put in first.

We cannot, as a society look away when such thievery is cultivated and let to flourish as it leads us further into destruction as a country.

In the past four years, the country’s legal system has slipped down 6 places in its networked readiness index and will continue to do so as long there is nobody out there ready to protect the rule of law and seriously tackle issues such as corruption, corruption and corruption (which seems to be the only problem Zimbabwe faces)

 

 

 

 

If South Africa does not wake up now!…

Zimbabwe was once not an outright fail as it is today. There was a future, one full of hope and desirable and we all thought better of ourselves in the dream that it would never come to a grinding halt; until we woke up.

There isn’t much that can bring a once thriving nation on its knees, it is a mixture of incompetent leaders, thieves and no accountability in areas of the nation that matter the most. One can never underestimate the power of being a minister for the people and the duties that befall upon them.

Therefore it follows that only competent and enthusiastic (since we might fail to always get the former) individuals should hold positions of influence and of leadership that can allow the country to move in a certain direction biased towards prosperity and growth.

Why is it that leaders in Africa are so eager to get their hands dirty than there are in leaving a legacy of hard work and success? Are we all just cursed to be kleptocrats with no bright future ahead.

Read more here