Zimbabwe Digital News, Independent Media and Agencies
Zimbabwe is entering a new era of democracy, incoming leader Emmerson Mnangagwa has said in his first public remarks since his return to the country.
The 75-year-old, whose sacking as vice president earlier in November triggered a military takeover, flew back to Zimbabwe on Wednesday, a day after longtime President Robert Mugabe resigned.
Mnangagwa fled to South Africa after his dismissal, citing threats to his life. He will be sworn in as president on Friday.
“Today, we are witnessing the beginning of a new and unfolding democracy,” Mnangagwa told thousands of jubilant supporters at the ruling ZANU-PF party headquarters in Harare.
“We want to grow our economy, we want jobs,” he said, amid roars of approval from the expectant crowd at Shake Shake Building.
“All patriotic Zimbabweans (should) come together, work together,” he said, at the same time thanking the masses who protested on Saturday, and the military which had played a role which eventually forced (now former) President Mugabe to resign.
Mnangagwa arrived from Johannesburg and went straight to the Zanu-PF headquarters where the crowd of several hundred had gathered to hear his first speech as president-in-waiting.
“The people have spoken. The voice of the people is the voice of God,” he told supporters. “Today we are witnessing the beginning of a new and unfolding democracy.”
Soldiers controlled admission to the concrete complex, but allowed hawkers to sell ice-creams, bananas and soft drinks. Outside, a makeshift stall selling Zanu-PF T-shirts with the slogan “A New Era” and pennants in the national colours did brisk business.
Many supporters carried placards thanking Mnangagwa for his “resilience and endurance”.
Who is Emmerson Mnangagwa?
His current popularity, though undoubtedly genuine, is clearly more dependent on the extraordinary events of the last week than any deep knowledge of the former spy chief.
Mnangawa’s exile in South Africa underlined the important role the powerful neighbour has played during the crisis. Though attempts at diplomatic mediation failed outright, Pretoria offered a crucial haven to Mnangagwa and close allies when they were forced to flee three weeks ago.
Car horns and celebrations greeted the motorcade carrying Mnangagwa as it passed through the Zimbabwean capital on the way to party headquarters, where one small portrait of Mugabe remained on a wall but two large images had been stowed in a corner.
There is still much residual respect for Mugabe, and many in Harare say he should be allowed to “rest” rather than face charges or enforced exile.
Zanu-PF officials have said that Mugabe and his wife, Grace, will be allowed to live in Zimbabwe.
Mugabe, who ruled the country with an iron grip for 37 years, finally caved to popular and political pressure on Tuesday, hours after parliament launched proceedings to impeach him. He had refused to leave office during eight days of uncertainty that began with a military takeover last week.
Meeting with President Zuma
Harare was quiet on Wednesday after a night of joyous celebration. Traffic was normal and many people were going to work. Mnangagwa, once one of Mugabe’s closest aides, can count on the support of the armed forces, the massed ranks of Zanu-PF followers across the country, and his own followers in the eastern part of Zimbabwe where he comes from.
The decision to sack Mnangagwa was a rare tactical error by Mugabe, who appears to have wanted to clear the way to power for his ambitious but unpopular wife and her G40 faction.
Mnangagwa told the crowd that he had met President Zuma for one-and-a-half hours, and also received messages from African statesmen and leaders who include former Tanzanian President Jikaya Kikwete, informing him that they were proud of how Zimbabweans had handled the political situation that saw Mugabe forced out of power.
He added that he would make his formal speech on Friday “around 10am”.
He said parliament speaker Jacob Mudenda had been “under intense pressure from the powers that were to derail this process (impeachment). “But the will of the people will always prevail,” he said to applause.
“I wish to commend the speaker for the manner in which he handled this process and defended the consItution. He was under under intense pressure from those that wanted to derail it,” he said.
Breaking into his mother tongue Karanga, Mnangagwa took a jibe at Mugabe and his cabal for failing to heed the warning from the people to step down. He chanted “pasi nemhandu!( down with the enemy), his popular war cry, derived from Zimbabwe’s struggle years in the 70s.
Mnangagwa also revealed that he had been in constant touch with the army chiefs, who kept him abreast of the developments back home.
“I appeal to all genuine, patriotic Zimbabweans to come together, work together to build a new Zimbabwe. No one is more important than the other, we are all Zimbabweans. It’s time to grow our economy, we want peace in our country, we want jobs, jobs, jobs,” promised Mnangangwa.
Sources said that a Zanu PF politburo meeting- Mnangagwa’s first as party leader- was scheduled for last night to map the way forward for Zimbabwe after the end of the traumatic Mugabe era, which lasted 37 years and brought the country’s economy to its knees.
But while Mnangagwa paid a courtesy call on Zuma, his party the ANC described the removal of Mugabe as a coup. Yesterday ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said Mugabe’s political demise was as a result an overthrow of a government engineered by the military- a coup- whatever the language used by his detractors.
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Tensions rose in Harare on Tuesday as armoured vehicles, military police and soldiers from Zimbabwe’s powerful military drove through the outskirts of the capital, a day after the head of the armed forces said he was prepared to “step in” to end a purge of supporters of sacked vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Witnesses in the city reported several lorries full of military personnel and at least six armoured vehicles on roads approaching the city in the late afternoon, though residents said there was no sign of troops in the centre of Harare, the airport, government broadcasters or the residence of president Robert Mugabe.
A second column of around a dozen vehicles was reported moving down the same road several hours later.
The deployments of military vehicles and soldiers led many to believe a coup was underway against Mugabe, the only leader Zimbabwe has known in 37 years of independence.
It is still unclear who ordered the military movement, though it comes amid an unprecedented challenge to the 93-year-old president from the armed forces.
Zimbabwe was plunged into crisis when Mugabe sacked Mnangagwa, a 75-year-old veteran of Zimbabwe’s liberation wars, last week.
The former intelligence chief and long-time associate of the president had been viewed as his most likely successor, and is thought to have significant support within Zimbabwe’s security establishment.
Mnangagwa’s downfall opens the way for his arch rival, Mugabe’s 52-year-old wife Grace, to take power when the ailing president dies, resigns or is ousted.
Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe addresses Zanu-PF members gathered to show support for Grace Mugabe, right, becoming the party’s next vice president.
General Constantine Chiwenga, the head of Zimbabwe’s military, warned on Monday that troops would intervene if long-term political allies continued to suffer.
“We must remind those behind the current treacherous shenanigans that, when it comes to matters of protecting our revolution, the military will not hesitate to step in.
“The current purging, which is clearly targeting members of the party with a liberation background, must stop forthwith,” Chiwenga said in a statement read to reporters at a news conference packed with senior officers.
Neither the president nor his wife has responded to the general’s remarks but a strong denunciation from the ruling party youth wing on Tuesday signalled that Grace Mugabe’s supporters were prepared to defend her.
“We will not fold out hands to allow a creature of the constitution to subvert the very constitution which establishes it,” said Kudzai Chipanga, who leads the Zanu-PF Youth League, said at the party’s headquarters in Harare.
Defending the revolution and our leader and president
“Defending the revolution and our leader and president is an ideal we live for and if need be it is a principle we are prepared to die for.”
The failure of the president to make any statement since the crisis broke suggests he “is not in full control”, said Piers Pigou, an expert on Zimbabwe with the International Crisis Group, who is based in neighbouring South Africa.
“It is very unclear how this will play out and there is a certain amount of wishful thinking from those who would like to see Mugabe arrested or dragged off … but his silence suggests an executive which is not in charge of the situation,” he added.
Mugabe was chairing a weekly cabinet meeting in the capital on Tuesday, which continued through the afternoon.
His rule has been anchored by support from the military but the ageing leader does not tolerate public challenges.
As Mugabe has systematically dismissed veterans of the liberation struggle from party posts, the top echelons of Zanu-PF are now stacked with officials who did not fight in the independence war.
War veterans broke ranks with him in 2016 and have vowed to form a broad front with the opposition to challenge his long rule.
Chris Mutsvangwa, the head of the war veterans’ group, told reporters in Johannesburg last week that Grace Mugabe was “a mad woman” who had won power through a “coup … by marriage certificate”.
The first lady is a deeply divisive figure in Zimbabwe with limited popular support. Her image has been tarnished after an alleged assault on a model she had found in the company of her sons in a luxury apartment in Johannesburg in September.
Granted diplomatic immunity after the incident, she was allowed to leave South Africa despite a police inquiry and denies any wrongdoing.
Reports of extravagant purchases, including property in South Africa and a Rolls-Royce, have also angered many Zimbabweans. Pictures of one of the first lady’s sons apparently pouring most of a bottle of champagne over a luxury watch worth tens of thousands of dollars in a nightclub were shared widely on social media this week.
The former junior administrator is detested by many of the independence-era war veterans, who once enjoyed a privileged role in the ruling party under Mugabe, but who have increasingly been banished from senior government and party roles in recent years.
The crisis comes at a time when Zimbabwe faces severe economic problems. The country is struggling to pay for imports due to a shortage of dollars, which has also caused acute cash shortages. – The Guardian
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As summer gains momentum winter clothes take their place at the back of the wardrobe and make way for brighter and more colorful attire. The past few years have seen a marked trend of summer clothes that can only be described as scandalous by the more conservative matrons of our time.
It is an undeniable fact that young women of this generation have taken to wearing clothes that show more than they hide.
From times past up until the early 1800’s European women were attired in dresses that fluttered the female figure but also covered a great deal of skin. These dresses usually extended to their ankles, had high necklines and ¾ sleeves if not full ones.
Nowadays such attire can be seen on nuns in the Roman Catholic church, as worn by the followers of Allah and other traditional cultures. The point of this article is not to go on and on about what is being exposed or the rightness of it but rather to explore the why.
It’s been decades since women fought for gender equality and yet we still see them coming as second best even in the developed world.
It is true girls have better opportunities than those from 50 years ago. Women are allowed to vote, get an education, own property independent of a male relative and doors that had been closed before are now open for women of our time.
Many things have been gained by the women’s movement. In spite of this groundbreaking progress, a large number of women are still raised to think less of themselves. According to research, the average girl will still earn less than their male counterpart in the job industry.
Keep this information in mind because we’re going to get back to it.
For now, we are going to go back in history. For most women as early as a hundred years ago marriage was the only measure of success.
Any woman unlucky enough to reach a certain age without attracting a suitor was automatically relegated to the ranks of spinsterhood. Marriage was a very important part of a woman’s life. In order to increase these marriage prospects, women had to be the picture of virtue and propriety. To stray from this ideal was disastrous to say the least.
Hence women wore the attire mentioned above.
Being an African woman, our traditional clothes would be considered scandalous by modern standards
But things have changed now and women can more or less wear whatever they want. Fashion has changed everything. Exposed knees no longer mean marital suicide.
Thank God! And what an interesting result has come from this fashion ‘freedom’. I’ll be the first to admit that I love to look good but am blessed or cursed (depends on how you look at it) with a semi-conservative spirit especially after gaining my 30’s and a few extra pounds.
That wasn’t always the case when I was in my teens boasting a slim figure trying to emulate RnB superstars I admired but somewhere along the way I lost this boldness.
A walk in any Joburg street on a sunny summer day is quite a revelation. Women dressed in eye-popping and sometimes jaw-dropping attire strut across the busy city streets.
They are a cheaper version of the American megastars who strut across the red carpet wearing million dollar transparent fabric and dresses that leave nothing to the imagination.
As you may have guessed this popular fashion is not exclusive to teenagers and young women in their early twenties but is being worn by older women as well. An awed audience is sometimes lambasted by orange peel skin and not so attractive stretch marks.
The world had just taken a huge sigh after surviving low waist jeans and g-strings little did they know more was coming. See-through dresses and short summer dresses now dress manikins in the shop windows and they are all the rage.
But what makes women such shameless exhibitionists when their male counterparts don’t seem put upon when they put on a few layers of fabric on a hot day?
As enlightened as our society is we can’t help but judge a book by its cover. We expect failed relationships and unhappy endings for our Hollywood starlets more rather than not because they are those people.
We love watching them on TV and in real life with avid fascination but we wouldn’t bring them home to meet the parents. Double standards hey.
These women are prey to many negative assumptions including but not limited to:
· That revealing clothing is an invitation
· That revealing clothing is meant for your appreciation or gaze
· That revealing clothing is an issue that reflects or impacts one’s morality
· That revealing clothing matters on women’s bodies but not men’s
The clothes a person wears or doesn’t wear is a personal choice. The reasons are varied from looking good to exercise, job description to name but a few. It is undeniable that such clothes can be used as a tool of seduction. The clothes do capture the attention of both men and women known and unknown. And when they’ve noticed what then?
Is this revealing attire the right way to express our individuality anymore than a tattoo on the body says more about us than we can say with mere words.
Are women using clothes to wield power and get a foothold in this ever challenging world where men dominate? But is this attire sending the right message of who we are as women? Do plus size women need to wear revealing clothes so that we can know they love their bodies regardless?
This topic amuses me to no end, being an African woman our traditional clothes would be considered scandalous by modern standards.
No doubt they would have considered European women of the 1800’s overdressed and strange. African men of that time did not lose their heads over a pair of thighs or an exposed bosom. The question is what has changed the human psyche so much that they place such importance on clothes and what they say about us?
If you wear revealing clothes why do you wear them?
Grace Ashley is a columnist for zimbabwedigitalnews.com. She is the author of Angel’s Game and Destiny, Bloob Prince, The Sigil, The Son of a King, and Chipo and the Mermaid. Grace is also a judge onInk and Insights annual writing competition. The views expressed in this article are her own.
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Zimbabwe’s pay TV service provider, Kwese TV, has become the latest kid on the bloc in the provision of satellite TV services in Uganda, with the official launch held in Kampala this week.
The firm will now tussle out with the established pay-TV providers such as Multichoice’s Gotv and Dstv of South Africa and Star Times from China for a pie of the market share.
Kwese TV plans to rely on the innovative flexible payment model and premium programming to penetrate the competitive market.
“Kwese’s appeal is not only its world-class content but also its innovative payment model which has never been adopted in this market,” said Herbert Mucunguzi, the general manager, Kwese TV Uganda.
“At Kwese, we believe that world class content needs to be accessible to audiences not only through multiple platforms but also at affordable prices.”
Kwese’s TV will offer pay-as-you-view service that enables viewers to purchase three days or a week to its full bouquet to fit viewer’s lifestyle and budget.
The firm will offer a full kit at Shs 143,000 (R530) including one month subscription and free installation, Shs 106,000 (R393) for a premium monthly subscription and Shs 32,000 (R118) and Shs 17,000 (R63) premium subscriptions for seven days and three days, respectively, for 66 channels.
The pricing, however, are slightly higher compared with those being offered by the rivals.
The prices are however higher than those offered by Kwese’s rivals.
Kwese TV, is a subsidiary of Econet Media, which is also owned by the global network group founded by the Executive Chairman Strive Masiyiwa.
Focused on providing premium, Kwese products offers sports, music, movies, series, kids, lifestyle, news among others and it has operations in Ghana, Rwanda, Botswana and Zambia. – Source: www.independent.co.ug
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This year Coke Studio Africa has enlisted Africa’s leading ladies in entertainment, and has merged Coke Studio Africa and Coke Studio South Africa to create one bigger and better platform where African music meets. From East Africa, West to South Africa, here are some of the leading divas at Coke Studio Africa – 2017.
Coke Studio Africa is Coca-Cola’s flagship African music show. It is a non-competitive music show that brings together diverse African music talent for world-class showcases, while giving upcoming artistes the opportunity to work with some of the best local and international music and production talent.
It brings together artistes from different genres, eras and regions to create a modern and authentic African sound through music fusion. Coke Studio Africa – 2017 includes artists from South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ghana, Angola, Zimbabwe, Togo, Cote d’Ivoire, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, DRC and Cameroon.
The Band BeCa girl group is one of Kenya’s fastest rising music stars at the moment slowly taking over the industry with fresh hits like “Toka”, “Brathe”, “Tonight” and “Maua”. On their Coke Studio debut, Band BeCa is paired with heavy weight rappers: Olamide (Nigeria) and AKA (South Africa).
Kenyan songstress Avril on the other hand is one of the leading contemporary urban female artists from East Africa. No stranger to Coke Studio – on season 3, she performed alongside Nigerian rapper M.I Abaga. This year, she makes a return to the show this year paired with Tanzanian hip-hop rapper Izzo Bizness.
While Uganda’s hottest female artist Sheebah Karungi makes a debut on Coke Studio this year paired alongside Asgegnew Ashko from Ethiopia, Lydia Jazmine is Coke Studio Africa’s first artist to be featured on the show’s Big Break artist to return only a season later as a Main Artist. On Coke Studio Africa season 3 she performed alongside Kiss Daniel and Bahati.
She makes a return on the show this year paired with Mozambican songstress Liloca. From Ethiopia, fast rising music star Betty G makes a return to Coke Studio Africa for the second time this year. She is paired alongside Tanzanian songstress Nandy with the two being produced by Tanzanian super producer: Nahreel.
From West Africa, the Nigerian award-winning Afro Pop songstress Yemi Alade makes a return to the Coke Studio Africa for the third time alongside French – Congolese rapper Youssoupha. Undoubtedly Africa’s top female artist this decade, Yemi is celebrated for being the first female Afro pop artist to hit over 75 million views on YouTube and VEVO with her smash hit “Johnny”. Chidinma also known as Ms. Kedike returns to Coke Studio Africa for the fourth time – this year paired alongside Kenyan award-winning music group Sauti Sol.
From South Africa, Coke Studio enlisted Nhlanhla Nciza one half of South African duo Mafikizolo – one of the most iconic and legendary music groups in Africa. A powerful vocalist in her own right, she is also a talented designer and one of the most fashionable female artists in Africa.
Together with Theo Kgosinkwe, Mafikizolo make their debut on Coke Studio Africa -2017, performing alongside Kenyan artist Nyashinski who is returning to the show for a second time. Power vocalist Shekhinah who was featured on Black Coffee’s hit single: “Your Eyes”— makes her debut on Coke Studio Africa alongside Jano Band from Ethiopia.
The “Amazulu” hit maker Amanda Black joins Ghanaian artist Joey B of the “Tonga” hit fame on Coke Studio. Top South African singer Busiswa of the hit records: “Lahla” and “Ngoku” makes her debut on Coke Studio Africa collaborating with Zambian artiste Slapdee.
Former president Rob, my predecessor Washington, founding captain Don, members I served with in the last committee, Terry, Simba and Ray and all existing members, I’m deeply humbled to be here today, writing to you as the Brawlers captain.
I don’t know what was seen in me to be regarded worthy of this respected position, but what I know is that the job ahead is not an easy one.
I am here to serve, obviously I can’t do it on my own. My current team, Ray and Walter, Brawlers has survived this far, those who led before, and with us have proved themselves, their achievements speak for themselves.
We should carry the dream forward, improve where we can but never deteriorate the attained standards.
As for you members, there’s an equally demanding task for you.
Brawlers is our club together, there cannot be a club without members.
Your participation, in terms of game attendance, game sponsorships, new members’ invitations, new ideas and constructive criticism where necessary will see us grow from strength to strength.
As the founding captain always says, golf on its own is expensive, so we remain a club that does not have joining fees or subscriptions, once you play a game with us you become a member or even sitting with us for a drink (you should be the one buying though) (jokes).
I would like to say kudos to Washy, you are a true captain, President. I have learnt so much from you, especially leadership skills, at times you even gave me business ideas. I respect you.
Former president Rob, you are a true leader, your ideas and guidance have kept us going thus far. Enough respect.
Don, founding captain. I admire your eagerness to keep the Brawlers spirit alive, we won’t let you down
All members, brought together by the spirit of oneness and love of the game, keep it up.
At this point, I would like to appoint Alistair as the Vice Organising Secretary and Ovid to the position of Vice Treasurer. I believe in you guys, let’s stand united till we hand over the reins to the next leaders. Happy Brawling.
Tau Nkomo is Captain of the Brawlers Golf Society.
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Police in Zimbabwe have arrested three Chinese men and at least 16 Zimbabweans for illegal currency deals. The arrests come a week after President Robert Mugabe’s government tightened rules to impose heavy jail sentences or fines on offenders and seize their cash.
At least $50 000 in local bond notes was seized from the three Chinese nationals after police were tipped off, the state-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) reported this week.
Police detectives traced the activities of the accused people and on 3 October they saw the first accused loading his vehicle with sealed cardboard boxes, ZBC said in an online report.
The broadcaster said police had followed the vehicle and intercepted it. When searching it, they recovered $50 000 bond notes. In a separate report, the broadcaster said 16 other illegal dealers were arrested in central Harare “while exchanging various currencies”.
All the suspects have appeared at the Harare Magistrate’s Court on charges of contravening the Exchange Control Act.
Zimbabwe’s banks are critically short of cash – both local bond notes and US dollars. Many retailers are sourcing their foreign currency on the black market to restock their shelves, driving up prices.
Last week, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa announced that penalties of up to 10 years in jail, and fines of up to three times the amount of money seized could be imposed on illegal dealers.
Introduced in November last year as part of measures meant to address the liquidity crisis, bond notes have fallen sharply in their value, stirring a wave of massive price increases, especially of basic goods.
Newspapers in Harare reported that the high demand for foreign currencies required to effect payments for goods and services sourced externally has seen the value of bond notes declining by as much as 50 percent on the currency black market.
Though illegal, Zimbabwe operates a three-tier pricing system, which dominates domestic transactions.
This is where a buyer is charged different prices depending on the mode of payment used.
For instance, it is cheaper to pay using hard currencies, while a heavy premium is paid on transactions effected through electronic transfers (including swipe) and bond notes.
Owing to the liquidity crunch affecting banks, the bulk of transactions are now going through currency dealers operating on the parallel market and mostly on the streets.
Because Zimbabwe imports more than it exports, the black market is now influencing pricing trends.
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Matthew Krouse holds an hour-long conversation with Zimbabwe’s Kudzanai Chiurai who is running a two-part exhibition — the first of which is running at the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg — accompanied by a new book of essays titled While the Harvest Rots, edited by Robert Muponde and Emma Laurence
According to Johannesburg’s Goodman Gallery, in a statement circulated in time for his exhibition We Live in Silence, Zimbabwean artist Kudzanai Chiurai’s new work aims to “disrupt ‘colonial futures’ and create ‘counter-memories’ to contest dominant Western narratives.” The show includes photographs, drawings, paintings and installation pieces making it the final installment in a three-part series that began with Revelations (2011) and continued with Genesis [Je n’isi isi] (2016).
The second exhibition venue for We Live in Silence is Constitution Hill. There the artist will screen four new films from which the works shown at Goodman Gallery are derived.
Chiurai will hold an early mid-career retrospective at the new Zeitz MOCAA this month before exhibiting new works and selected works from his current solo exhibition at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in November.
Matthew Krouse (MK): Let’s ask the very first question: why can’t you be a Zimbabwean artist?
Kudzanai Chiurai: What do you mean why can’t I be a Zimbabwean artist? MK: Does it bother you that you can’t be a Zimbabwean artist really?
KC: I can. I am. MK: When last did you have a solo exhibition in Zim?
KC: I have one coming up in November. MK: Where will that be?
KC: At the National Art Gallery. MK: So in other words you have been embraced in Zim by the very mainstream?
KC: Yeah I think so. I think so. MK: And what do they give as a support base for a solo exhibition by someone like you?
KC: Well it’s the National Gallery. It’s a state institution so they support whatever arrangements I need to make – bringing in work for the show. Like we also managed to get the Chimurenga PASS, [The Pan African Space Station, a periodic pop-up live radio station]. Ntone Edjabe [Chimurenga magazine founder] will be there. We managed to get that for the exhibition as well. MK: Does it go throughout the show or is it only for the opening?
KC: It’s for the first week of the opening. It will broadcast from the exhibition. MK: Is Ntone going to be there?
KC: Yeah the whole team is going. We raised some of the money for it. I applied to Pro Helvetia and got a grant from them, and there is some other money I must apply for. MK: And when you do the exhibition, do you have the liberty of making new work?
KC: Yeah I have the liberty of making new work. MK: And how much new work will you be making for the exhibtion?
KC: I will probably have two sculptural works, an installation, some drawings, painting and the videos from this show [We Live in Silence] will also be shown there. MK: And any retrospective work?
KC: No. Not any restrospective work. MK: Of course, there are certain ideas people have about working in Zimbabwe – what about restrictions on content over there? Anybody ask you what you’re making?
KC: I sent them [the National Gallery] a proposal about what I wanted to make. They asked me to write it down; I wrote it down, they were happy with it. MK: Is any of that content clearly politically inclined – or speaking about any opposition to the power structure in Zim?
KC: Like all art is political. I think there are elements of it, there are. There are parts of the show that is in opposition. But then that is what I wrote in my proposal and they agreed to it. MK: So you don’t feel, or it seems from the tone of your voice, that your country’s national gallery is a particularly restrictive artistic environment?
KC: No I think artists have been able to create and say what they want. They engage in their own politics in that space. I think there’s a fear that it’s a national art gallery as much as it’s a state institution. I think it still grants those specific liberites to artists.
And one tends to kind of convert it into status of servitude
MK: Do you know that Tristan Tzara was at the opening of that gallery?
KC: Tristan…? MK: The great Dadaist.
KC: No I didn’t. MK: He may even have shaken hands with Robet Mugabe.
KC: And the Queen. She inaugurated it when it was opened. There’s a huge plaque. MK: For you, what is your worst neo-colonial trait that you hate in yourself? What is your worst hangover from colonialism that you carry with you, that you wish you could get rid of?
KC: It’s that for a long time, I guess, like with schools in Zim and schools in South Africa, you go to school to be fashioned in the model of a conservative Englishman. Like an Afrosaxon. This is what you’re supposed to be – you’re supposed to be an Afrosaxon; and you go through life thinking this, that you are this person. You are being prepared in this world, in this environment, to be an Afrosaxon. And that’s the thing I’ve hated the most. MK: Do you every say to yourself, “I wish Zimbabwe would have been colonised by the French or the Portuguese, instead of the English”?
KC: No. MK: So your general outlook would be, “I wish that Zimbabwe would not have been colonised at all.”
KC: Yeah. MK: So that is your colonial burden. Do you carry that around with you a lot in your life? Are you constantly aware of the colonial burden?
KC: It creates so much crisis. Because you’re constantly – remember, in your learning experience you are prepared for where you’re supposed to live and experience that as an Afrosaxon. It creates terrible conflict in terms of what you understand and what you experience. And also what your grandparents say and experience, and can communicate, are vastly different from my experience. MK: But you’re not very old, so they must also have been colonised. Internally.
KC: They have. Like they all went to missionary schools. So they have different expectations as to who and what you’re supoposed to be, and this creates incredible conflict. And I think this is a conflict, like you live constantly trying to resolve at contact points with institutions, with Immigration. With every kind of institution or contact point you are constantly at a point of conflict. So this creates considerable confusion. MK: But that conflict is an outward conflict with institutions.
KC: It’s an internal conflict. At the point of contact there is conflict, and at the same time you are also experiencing internal conflict as a result of that contact. MK: But then as an artist, it’s jumping a gap, but take that as a person looking on, and make it serious, the tragedy of people’s lives. It doesn’t matter that you’re a successful person, it doesn’t matter at all because there is something fucked up about everything. You can be a victim. Then why is your work so heavily aestheticised? Why is it so richly aestheic when the experience of life is really so underwhelming? Is that like an attempt to dress up your inner being in order to adorn you inner world, or is it an outward expression to say: fuck the ugliness let’s make it beautiful? Or is it both?
KC: Maybe it’s an outward projection in terms of like how I see it. I think it’s more or less like an outward projection of what I think it is. It might not actually be accurate.
The Son is the Daughter
MK: Let’s take [your portrayal of] women for example because I see there is some sort of text, subtext, or primary text about women in the exhibition notes. And if you look at your treament of women generally – which is quite a specific thing — you definitely make female icons out of African women, religious style icons that glorify their oppression. In a very Catholic way iconically. In a very orthodox religious manner.
KC: Use of religion is very internal in terms of how, like, the heirarchy of our knowledge is shared. So in this heirarchy of knowledge we understand specific things, and respond to specific things based on this heirarchy. How we understand, and how it creates, like, essentially our memories. So for me that has always been interesting in terms of Christian iconography. What kind of heirarchy does it create? And I found this to be really interesting in Zim. So when I am working there and looking at some of the imagery, and what has happened in the past 60 years, going back to those missionary churches it is always interesting how this heirarchy of knowledge also created this heirarchy of human value in which the role of women, especially African women, was pretty low. And one tends to kind of convert it into status of servitude. I found this very interesting. And then I kind of also found out, I guess, like there’s a very specific language to it. There’s a very specific understanding to the role of women – role of women in the church, role of women in the family, role of women within the African family. And all of those things essentially changed with Christianity. So then what became interesting is that, well, if that’s the case why don’t I flip the story? Why don’t I change the heirarchy and look at it from that perspective? Christ was a black woman. God was a black woman. MK: So it’s not the Mother Mary figure. It’s more The Son. The Son is The Daughter.
KC: The Son is the Daughter. So I started to look at it that way, and started to interpret it. And think: “what then happens of we understand our heirarchy of knowledge in that regard?” MK: Has that been a conscious artistic move in your practice?
KC: It was very conscious. I think initially I did it sparingly, like with the first work. But then I think, with the last two series I did it very consciously, very intentionally. So it’s almost like I was looking for an alternative. I was looking for an alternative story. Like if I was 16 and I gave myself that story what would I think? And what would follow after that? How would I see everything? How would I experience everything? What decisions would I make after that point? So it was almost like trying to create my own new Bible, or a new form of history and then handing it to myself when I was 16. Then that 16 year old has to make different choices. MK: Then even if you take the picture of the rebel revolutionary female: it kind of does and does not exist, the sort of AK-47 weilding, wild hair, beautiful fashion model type – with a fashionable revolutionary spirit.
KC: There are amazing images in the archive of Zimbabwean women carrying guns – training in long skirts and, like, doing their marches; learning how to shoot. Those are extraordinary images and we never really see them. There are also similar images that you’d find in Guinea-Bissau. Then we never see those images at all. You always find the black intellectual comes out on top. The black male intellectual is always the one that comes out on top. That’s the most popular image. MK: Do you think that’s because that is more digestable across the board? Is that a hangover from colonialism, or is that embedded in African culture that is perceived to be inherently patriarchal?
KC: No traditional African culture is not inherently patriarchal – not at all. MK: So then this idea of the male intellectual saviour…
KC: I think it was very calculated the way it was instituted. So for me that was interesting in finding ways, finding alternative ways to remember that history. If I was asked to give that history to my 16-year-old self. MK: Then what? Do you think you’d be a better person?
KC: That’s what I was wanting to find out – would I be a better person?
Can women be as evil as men? It is an important question
MK: The point is that [in your art] you have made the leadership figure a woman. And then there’s been this discussion about your “borderline Afropessimism”. So perhaps we should talk about Grace Mugabe and the recent incident [involving an alleged attack on a South African in Johannesburg], and what one assumes are her power ambitions for the next phase in your country’s history. Then we’re saying in the narrative of post-colonial Africa that women can be as evil as men. Old white men would love that because it would play into all of their neocolonialist beliefs of what post colonial Africa has dredged up, out of the mire of history.
KC: It’s an important question: can women be as evil as men? Well there are women on the NEC [ANC’s National Executive Committee] in South Africa. Are those women evil? I don’t know. That’s why it’s an important question. If those images were given to myself when I was 16 what would I have thought? MK: Exactly, because you didn’t have a chance, as a colonised human being, to see an equal world in which there would be African people who would be good, bad, mediocre, exeptional, brilliant, or totallly shit.
KC: I wasn’t given that chance. MK: That’s what we as stupid whites don’t understand. People weren’t given a chance to see the world as it should be.
KC: So that’s why, for me, it’s an important question to ask: if that question could be given to me – if I was I was say 16, or 15, or even 12. MK: But hang on: you were born in 1981. So you were born into a liberated Zimbabwe.
KC: Was it? MK: Exactly. I suppose that’s the argument here also [in South Africa]. Was it? Well, it isn’t. It cannot be.
KC: The interesting conversation is like, these negotiations have to take place because things have to be stable. But what does stability mean? Does that mean we used the very same language that defines stability. The very same language the very same… as Europe? And what does stability mean? MK: Interesting that you should ask that within the context of contemporary art. In the context of contemporary African art that sees as its superstructure — or it “apes” or just mimics — the mainstream art scene of the world. It hasn’t been able in any way to construct its own identity.
KC: Well it hasn’t necessarily. MK: I have to ask: has it been able to construct its own identity as a scene, a white cube, in the first instance? In traditional African culture how many white cubes were floating around?
KC: What one has to consider is that as an artist living on the continent — or of African descent, or in the diaspora — one of the most fundamental things is global participation. And this is what a lot of artists strive for. Being part of the global conversation. But one has to ask: in which context are you part of that global conversation? And which language are you using to be a part of that global conversation? These are very important things. And whether one considers there’s African art scene or there’s an African identity, I think that’s entirely irrelevant. It’s the nature of the participation that’s far more important. It’s the language of the participation that’s more important. Because if at any point my language, or the nature of my participation in this conversation, is irrelevant then what’s the point of there having been a conversation about an African art scene? MK: It’s all off centre. If you look at your own biography, that the gallery presents, it does not emphasise your African participation. I don’t know how much exhibition you’ve done on the African continent.
KC: Most of the work I’ve done. I’ve had shows: at Lagos Photo, Dakar Biennale, I had a show in Mocambique, Ethiopia. I find saying an “African art scene” to be irrelevant. I think, particularly, the most important thing to happen is global participation. Are we willing to participate globally? Are we willing to do that? Because by asking “are we willing to be global participants?” it means that we also create the spaces to have those conversations about global participation. That’s the other important part. So it’s not just like global participation [means] me going to Europe or the US. Global participation is them also coming here. So it’s to kind of look beyond, like, location. MK: Beyond small mindedness. That’s a good point to ask about something that inspired your new work, the film Soleil O by Med Hondo [Mauritania, 1970]. How did you actually come upon the movie Soleil O?
KC: It was at a film festival I’d gone to. I think it was in Berlin. I was invited to this archive film festival and that’s where I saw the film. I think it was in 2015. Or 2014. MK: And when you watched it were you transfixed by its period nature or its contemporary message. It’s message for now?
KC: Its message for now. I think that’s what kind of got me. And then I started harassing the people, asking how can I get this film?
“Am I Afrosaxon? Am I African? Am I supposed to be African? What parts of African should I be?”
MK: And what did strike you about it?
KC: Its language was so precise. It was so, so precise. It was really shocking how precise it was. But it was then, also, really interesting that in its entire narrative there is no reference to black women. So that really shocked me: “how is this possible?” It’s an incredibly revolutionary film. It’s about that mental conflict I was talking about, and how you can go mad thinking about “Am I Afrosaxon? Am I African? Am I supposed to be African? What parts of African should I be?” And you also have to deal with this interface, with like having multiple personalities to deal with different institutions. So this craziness was also relfected in the film. And I thought that was incredibly precise. But then it was also that there were no black women in it. And then that was, “What the fuck was that?” And then that kind of got me really interested in trying to figure out, ok how do I change the story? In the same way, if I was to go back to my younger self, and gave myself that film, at 36 what work would I have made? Would I have made the same choices? Having known that film, or having watched that film, would it have changed me in the the same way that I am trying to chang the film now, trying to look at it entirely differently? So then I tried to figure out: how do I change the story? How do I create an alternative, I guess, to that narrative, to that story, to that specific film? MK: Are you succeeding, in your own mind, did you succeed?
KC: I don’t know if I succeeded. I don’t know if I succeeded. MK: How do you measure success in that realm?
KC: It’s very hard to measure. MK: Is it sales? Is it exhibition opportunities? Is it the love you get from your audience?
KC: I think you can measure it that you have attempted something honest. I think I’d rather measure it that way. Some may measure success on the story, the exhibition, whether stuff will sell; [or if] it might end up in a museum or with a private collector. But [for me] that you attempted something honest. MK: Does that mean that in your universe dishonesty has not place in art?
KC: It actually has a good place in art. MK: But you just said you measure it by honesty.
KC: But then that’s my measurement. MK: Well I’d like to see what you’d make when you’d say, “Ok Kudzanai your entire next effort is going to be totally dishonest.”
KC: It could be an interesting project.
We Live in Silence runs at the Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg until 14 October. Part two of Chiurai’s exhibition opeed at Constitution Hill on September 9. Four new films will be screened with a live musical accompaniment by Joao Orecchia, Siya Makuzeni, Mpumelelo Mcata and Tshepang Ramoba. The book While the Harvest Rots, edited by Robert Muponde and Emma Laurence, is published by Goodman Gallery.
Matthew Krouse: is a freelance writer who also consults in the visual art and gallery sector. For 16 years he was arts editor of the Mail & Guardian and then media liaison for Goodman Gallery. In 2014 he was correspondent for a special report on Durban Film Festival for the prestigious Variety magazine in Los Angeles.
Profile portrait by Marc Shoul. This article appeared in The Con online newspaper.
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Imagine this? A voice so sultry that it evokes emotions you never thought you had in you. You listen to the music, and you rediscover yourself.
Vuyokazi Tshaya is one South African artist who, in her last offering in a form of a five-track Extended Play (EP) record, titled Vuka, managed to blow listeners away, completely.
With that kind of exceptional work she has now teamed up with award-winning radio DJ, vocalist, Zimbabwean-born George Munetsi in what this column would say – without doubt – that Africa has been missing since the heady days of the Black Madonna, Brenda Fassie’s era.
The two, collaborating under the banner of Induna Production, have come up with a cheeky entitled song Dololo, meaning unworthy or null.
The song infuses Zulu and Shona lyrics beautifully, and explores relationship of inequalities, where a successful woman is in love with a broke man, and she tries hard (in voice) to validate and reassure him of the commitment to their relationship.
But this is at a time when her community and family are suspicious about the status of the relationship.
“It’s one of those songs that have the hallmarks of a timeless wedding or party classics. It’s in the genre of Afro-pop which we seem to have moved away from just for the sake of it, and yet at wedding and parties we still dance to these kind of tunes and most of those songs are old. So here’s a new one to spice up your old collection of wedding party tunes,” said Munetsi, who has recently left Kaya FM after a record 20 years in broadcasting.
Broadcasting is seasonal, and I had reached the end of my season
On being quizzed why he decided to leave Kaya the radio presenter-turned-muso said that he had reached the end of radio season, and it was time to go and make a success of other ventures, like his music.
“I am working on an album, or should I say I been working on one for the past I don’t know how many years. But doing music full time? I am not sure about that. If there’s enough demand for the music, if I get called to other countries like Zimbabwe to perform then it might help me to make up my mind. We’ll play it by ear” the veteran broadcaster said.
Munetsi’s duet with Tshaya on Dololo also coincides with both artists working on full albums.
Munetsi’s album was launched at the beginning of September and we wait with unabated breath the release of Tshaya’s album in the next couple of months. Tshaya could not hide her excitement about working with Munetsi on this project.
“No words can describe how great it has been, not only have we recorded the song together with Georgie but we have been performing it and the energy I get from just performing the song with him is so amazing,” said Tshaya.
She also believes that the song is relevant in these days as real love should not be measured by a fat bank account. “The love that our grandparents had, still exists. Love conquered all then, hence the low divorce rate among people from previous generations. With Dololo we want to relive all this,” said Tshaya.
Next up is the planning to shoot the video of the single. The song Dololo is available on all online music stores.
George Munetsi’s duet with Vuyokazi Tshaya on Dololo also coincides with both artists working on full albums.
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Zimbabwe sungura music legend Alick Macheso showed the youngsters how it’s done with a sterling performance at the Phalaphala FM Royal Heritage Festival at Nandoni Dam, near Thohoyandou at the weekend.
In his second appearance at the festival, the Orchestra Mberikwazvo front man stole the show with a performance full of energy, lots of it, kilowatts of electricity coursing through the bones and muscles of his young dancers.
With his powerful bass guitar riffs and vocals, Macheso had the crowds on their feet, singing along, cheering, standing atop cooler boxes and camp chairs trying to capture the performance on their cellphones.
His was one of those performances you wished could on and on for most of the night. Macheso was born in 1968 in Shamva, 90km north of Harare to parents of Malawian origin, a fact that inspired him to learn to speak and sing in five languages – Shona, Chichewa, Sena, Venda and Lingala.
He is working on perfecting his Ndebele. Growing up on a farm in pre-Chimurenga Zimbabwe meant that few opportunities were available to the emerging musician.
In 1983, at the age of 15, he left the farm compounds of Shamva to head for the dizzy lights of Harare, arriving in the capital at the invitation of a relative who had been inspired by Macheso’s guitar-playing prowess at the farm compound.
Alick started off as a guitarist playing for Vhuka Boys, shortly after, Macheso was to switch camps moving-in with Nicholas Zacharia and joining the band that Zacharia fronted, The Khiama Boys, where he was singing & dancing as well as playing bass guitar.
“He really acted like an uncle to me and took me into his home. They provided me with everything up to the time I married my wife,” recalls Macheso.
The two went on a music-inspired journey, joining several bands, mostly sungura-playing outfits. In 1997 Macheso broke ranks with Zacharia to form his own ‘Orchestra Mberikwazvo’ in 1998, the outfit that backs him to date.
The Zimbabwean phenomenon that the music industry had been waiting for
“I remember we used to be regulars at Murambinda in Buhera and there was this braai-man who used to do it differently from others. And I would comment ‘mberi kwazvo zvaunoita‘ (which loosely translates to; ‘Keep going on and surpass your own standards’) and the saying stuck.
When the managers at Gramma (his recording studio) asked him to name my band, I simply replied “Orchestra Mberikwazvo.”
The album ‘Simbaradzo‘ was to be the turning point is his career with the songs Mundikumbuke & Mai Rubhi remain anthems to this date and brought Macheso into the limelight. Suddenly everyone took notice. He was the Zimbabwean phenomenon that the music industry had been waiting for.
Macheso followed the success of ‘Simbaradzo’ with ‘Zvakanaka Zvakadaro‘, the album which confirmed that Zimbabwe had given birth to a new sensation. Zvakanaka Zvakadaro was followed, in 2003, by Zvido Zvenyu Kunyanya, confirmation that Macheso had not only arrived on the Zimbabwean music scene, but was determined to stay there for as long as possible.
It is only a question of time before Macheso becomes the first Zimbabwean musician to sell a million copies of his music.
In recent years Macheso has attracted even greater national popularity appearing on advertising hoardings across Zimbabwe as ‘The Face of Zorai Butter’ and through his works as ambassador for the Red Cross.
Aleck Macheso and his band are constantly in demand to perform at events across the nations of Southern Africa with frequent visits to Europe.
A beast of an SUV pulls into the parking lot and cruises straight towards the entrance. A security guard stops chatting and rushes to remove a bright orange cone from the parking bay.
Once the car has stopped, a big man opens the door to step out and I see his dreads – cascading down to his waist and each about as big as my palm – before I see his actual body. They have taken on a life of their own and add to the unique energy that he’s walked around with since he first burst onto the music scene. The man is Jah Seed.
The reggae quarter of the iconic Bongo Maffin, Jah Seed (whose real name is Anesu Mupemi) also carved out a unique lane for himself and Andy “The Admiral” Kasrils.
With Jah Seed as the DJ and The Admiral as the selector in the tradition of Jamaican reggae and dancehall sound systems, the pair became known as the African Storm Sound System and ran Ragga Nights at Bassline for seven years.
When Bassline closed down, the pair took over the management role and rebranded the venue as Newtown Music Factory. This is where we meet for this interview. His office has a Damian Marley gig poster on the wall and, next to a window, a dreamcatcher with the Big Five in the middle.
As one of the veterans who has managed to escape extinction, I ask him where his love for music began. He takes me back to his home country, Zimbabwe.
“I’ve been DJ-ing since the age of 13,” he says. “I played Yvonne Chaka Chaka to the other kids. They didn’t know her!
“Our primary school had an entertainment committee and we’d go buy music every week. South Africa was the most dominant external culture at that time. All the South African record companies would come and try take our Zim dollar when it was still strong,” he laughs.
In Zimbabwe, reggae is on a different level
While studying construction engineering, he would also frequent clubs and get on to the mic to say catchy things over beats. That’s when Oskido – of Kalawa Jazzmee – became interested in working with him. But Jah Seed wasn’t so sure about leaving his country to become a full-time musician in Mzansi.
“Oskido was already in the industry and his travels had allowed him to see the likes of Stoan and Speedy,” Jah Seed’s bass-heavy voice reverberates through the room. “Boom Shaka was already huge at that time and Junior was doing his Shabba Ranks elements.
“There was also Aba from Aba Shante, so that Shabba Ranks influence was strong.
“So Oscar thought: let me get a group of three guys to sing, rap and do the reggae thing. I was in the middle of studying and it wasn’t as if things in Zim were bad yet, so you actually wanted to be a star in Zim first. Oscar saw me in 1995 and prior to that, South Africa was not the place to be.”
But then his world changed. “My mother passed away in 1996,” he says sadly. “She was the cornerstone of the family and had high hopes for me to build an oil rig in New Zealand or somewhere. Because she was gone, I just took the plunge and came to South Africa.”
Here he became a part of Bongo Maffin with Speedy and Stoan, and together they were stitched into the fabric of kwaito forever. “Stoan was twice as skinny as he is now and Speedy was full of excitement,” Jah Seed laughs loudly. “We made Summertime the very first time we met.
“There were no laptops then, so the music was mainly programmed on the keyboard,” he says. “Bruce Sebitlo made that riddim and we made our first song.
“Thandiswa was still very young. Oscar said since she’d done all our backing vocals and was there from the beginning of the band… let’s just add her and make her a full-time member.”
Bongo Maffin went on to release four albums and Jah Seed has his own solo effort, No Retreat No Surrender, which came out in 2015. But perhaps even more interesting is how he has managed to sustain a thriving career in what is still thought of as a niche market: reggae and dancehall.
We were pulling 1 000 people at Rocky Street in Yeoville
A lot of that success is shared with his partner in riddim, The Admiral.
“In Zimbabwe, reggae is on a different level,” Jah Seed explains. “There are DJ outfits called sound systems in that culture. So when I came to South Africa, there wasn’t anything like that.
“And then when I met Andy – who had been in England so he understood where reggae was coming from – we initially sized each other up,” he laughs. “We had a music battle and then instantly clicked.
“He was sceptical, but I kept saying if anyone understands where dancehall is right now, it’s you, so let’s do this thing. Before you knew it, we were pulling 1 000 people at Rocky Street in Yeoville.”
Back then, South Africa had just had the first democratic elections and the Rainbow Nation dream had many in a euphoric state. “We tried to call ourselves the Mandela Sound System,” Jah Seed bursts out laughing. “We’d even cut some dub plates and then we were told we couldn’t use that name. So then we decided on African Storm. Andy is the selector and I am the DJ.”
Together with a few surprise acts, they will be going up against AKA, DJ Tira and Patoranking in the extremely male-driven Red Bull Culture Clash on September 23. Save for Babes Wodumo, you’d be hard-pressed to find a woman who is a musician or at least MC-ing the event. But The Admiral and Jah Seed are likely to bring out the dancehall queens.
“It’s about the entertainment value you are able to add when you’re dealing with this kind of event,” says Jah Seed. “The improvisation is very important. How quickly you’re able to change while you’re there is important.
“AKA and Patoranking also have that reggae influence, so we are going to really be capitalising on any mistake they make. We’ve prepared a lot of skits and a lot of things to wow the people.”
This article appeared in IOL Tonight
● Catch Admiral and Jah Seed at the Red Bull Culture Clash on September 23 at Orlando Stadium in Soweto. Tickets are available from Computicket.
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I was fascinated by this novel. By its supple, subtle, multi-stranded narrative, certainly, and by its accomplished technique, but also by a minor inside-baseball mystery that ultimately became a bonus strand in my reading: Who wrote it?
The book is credited to “C.B. George,” who, we are told, “spent many years working throughout southern Africa.” We are further told that “he now lives in London.” Yet he has no apparent history as a writer, and no claim is made that this is a debut work. Indeed, it would be astonishing if it were — like being able to play the “Moonlight” Sonata with no prior experience of the piano.
Therefore “C.B. George” must be a pen name, and speculating about who — or, more accurately, what kind of established writer — lies behind it became a matter of ongoing interest, illuminated by what I took to be clues scattered throughout the text.
A well-bred scuffler named Cecil Rhodes got the ball rolling
The novel is set in contemporary Zimbabwe, that landlocked and luckless country in the southeast of Africa. Its modern history began in the late 19th century when the British came calling, not at first for the greater glory of Queen Victoria but for gold and diamonds.
A well-bred scuffler named Cecil Rhodes got the ball rolling. Later the country was named Rhodesia in his honor, and like Kenya to the north, it attracted second sons and second-chancers and second-raters from all over Britain to a new and classically colonial life.
As an imperial possession, it lasted longer than most, but by 1965 the winds of change were blowing a gale. A unilateral declaration of independence attempted to prolong white minority rule, but to no durable avail. After a long civil war, majority rule was established and the country was renamed Zimbabwe.
The new nation inevitably fell victim to decades of post-colonial problems, culminating in the hyperinflation of 2008, which peaked at a monthly rate of 79.6 billion percent. Early in the novel, a character reports the lament: “Zimbabwe used to manufacture cars. Now it imports paraffin stoves.”
The comment is made during a game of squash. (By which point the tone of the early pages had convinced me that the author is a white Englishman of a certain type, old enough to remember at least folk memories of empire, if not empire itself.
There is no I-told-you-so scolding, but the view is clearly from the mother country, so “C.B. George” can safely be seen as a crazy mash-up of very British signifiers, from C.B.E. — Commander of the British Empire — to King George and Prince George and St. George.)
The eponymous Nhongo is Gen Solomon Mujuru
The eponymous Rex Nhongo is Gen. Solomon Mujuru, under a nom de guerre, a real-life hero of the war of independence who leveraged his status to become an integral part of the new power elite. The novel opens with a preface describing his real-life fate — found apparently burned to death in his house, earlier seized from a white farmer during land reforms.
There may have been gunshots. The security detail may have been asleep. In any case, their radio was broken, and they had no minutes left on their cellphones. The attending fire engine turned back because its leaking water tank ran dry. This information is relayed in a straightforward, declarative style. (By now I had rejected the plausible possibility that the author is a journalist or nonfiction writer. The tone of the prologue argues against it. The impression is of a gifted storyteller setting up his tale.)
It is hope that causes most problems
Despite the title, the death of Rex Nhongo plays no substantial part in the story. A gun that might or might not have been used at the scene becomes a minor MacGuffin, but there are no repercussions, no riots, no civil unrest. Indeed, some critics have found the novel insufficiently political.
But in my view that inattention is deliberate. The characters in the book, like people everywhere, largely ignore politics and simply get on with their lives. They can’t afford not to, and anyway, as the principal Zimbabwean character says, “It is hope that causes most problems.”
We get little real sense of Zimbabwe itself in terms of its sights and sounds and smells, of the hustle of its daily routines. The setting is a bare stage; what matters in this story are the people.
But what people they are, and how well drawn they are. Principally there are three married couples whose lives and families collide and interact through backyard barbecues, play dates, domestic servitude and adultery. April and Jerry Jones are from Britain: she on government service at the Harare embassy, he a diplomatic spouse at loose ends.
They have a 2-year-old son, Theo. Shawn McClaren is an African-American from New York, newly unemployed, who has changed his last name to Appiah and has accompanied his unstable Zimbabwean-born wife, Kuda, back to her homeland. They have an 8-year-old daughter, Rosie. Patson is a taxi driver, married to Fadzai, whose brother, Gilbert, is married to Bessie, who works as a maid in the Jones household. And so on.
If you introduce a gun in the first act, you’d better use it by the third
The connections grow complicated, and mostly difficult. The three marriages are stressed in different ways. Two grow weaker, and one grows stronger, in inverse proportion to the reality of the pressures faced. Personal attractions and external repulsions produce unpredictable reactions.
Not all the characters survive. Linking the increasingly intertwined strands is the secret policeman Mandiveyi, with problems of his own, in hapless pursuit of the aforementioned firearm. Anton Chekhov said that if you introduce a gun in the first act, you’d better use it by the third, and the author does, to stunning effect.
Along the way, the narrative’s eye flits from one character to another, like a camera zooming in, pausing, then moving on.
These portraits are superbly achieved, and the text is studded with memorable observations. About young Gilbert’s seduction of Bessie and her subsequent unplanned pregnancy: “Wasn’t this always the outcome when a boy with too much confidence charmed a girl with too little?”
Of Bessie and her much older sister-in-law, Fadzai, equally long-suffering: “Both women, for all their apparent practicality, are ruled by their generous hearts — often stoicism’s secret ingredient.” This author understands people and can effortlessly marshal a large cast through emotional intricacies.
Who is C.B. George, by the way?
All that said, there are minor weaknesses. The Appiah family’s story is seen mostly through 8-year-old Rosie’s eyes, related in an italicized dialect, full of misspelled words, presumably meant to represent the sound of a black New Yorker, which grew irritating very quickly and was unrecognizable to this Manhattan resident. (Leading me to stand firm in my conclusion about the author’s English background; while he might have spent many years in southern Africa, he surely hasn’t spent very many in New York.)
When it comes to Rosie, the author abandons his foothold as a latter-day Graham Greene and tries to become Stephen King, with a supernatural possession that jars in a text otherwise so acutely quotidian and superbly human — although it must be said that this gives the book its only real oh-my-God thriller moment, when the reader figures something out ahead of the characters.
Win some, lose some. Over all, it would be churlish to let these small negatives outweigh a generally terrific achievement.
But whose achievement? Who is C.B. George? A general clue, I think, lies in the narrative’s swooping, restless movement, which feels like a long tracking shot, reminiscent of the nearly eight-minute opening of the 1992 Robert Altman movie, “The Player.” A more specific indication comes later, when April Jones asks her lover a question and adds a clarifier after the narrative interjects: “Then, off his apparent surprise. . . .” “Off his” is a parenthetical character direction seen everywhere in movie scripts but never before (at least by this reader) in a novel.
I think C.B. George is a screenwriter — and now also a novelist of great quality.
Lee Child is the author of the Jack Reacher thriller series. This book review appeared in the New York Times.
THE DEATH OF REX NHONGO
By C.B. George
311 pp. A Lee Boudreaux Book/Little, Brown & Company. $26.
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I read the newspaper story carried in the Zimbabwean Press with gratitude this week as it beamed the headline “Government licenses Masiyiwa’s Kwese TV”. This will surely go a long way in creating the much-needed competition in the television-broadcasting sector, which we all yearn for. We are highly likely to see a reconfiguration of the forces of competition, especially to Multichoice, the owners of DSTV as they respond to the new entrant.
DSTV, though showcasing premium quality programmes compared to the ‘harmful’ Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) content, has become complacent, bordering on disregard of its loyal customers who have supported the brand over the years. It has departed from its positioning statement aptly captured through its campaign, Business Unusual that led to the company knocking down the prices for its packages across board.
How does one explain a situation whereby the company wakes up one morning and discontinues many of the payment platforms without early warning? When one visits their premises to pay for the services, s/he encounters additional shock therapy, as they do not accept payments anymore. In return, the company refers the desperate customers to a few banks who are in turn adding insult to injury by providing the service (to account holders only in most cases) but charging exorbitant commissions that are tantamount to fleecing the customers. Definitely, it’s no longer Business Unusual as we knew it!
If Kwese TV is successfully launched, this will go a long way in teaching the monopoly pay-per-view broadcaster that customers should never be taken for granted. Multichoice was supposed to show customers that it is working flat out to look for alternative solutions to the payment nightmare currently in the market, rather than behaving like an overfed Buddha!
Customers should never be treated with such disregard, especially in the Zimbabwean context, where DSTV services are the most expensive compared to any country in the continent. DSTV has enjoyed many years of pocketing profits from Zimbabwe and should not behave as if it could not absorb a marginal slowdown in revenues while working on a win-win solution for both the customers and the company.
Having noted the above case of taking customers for granted, I want to propose the following for brand DSTV and the new entrant Kwese TV, that is if the later successfully enters the market which is noted below:
It is costly to recruit new customers: research has shown that it costs seven times more to recruit new customers than keeping the ones you have satisfied. Ignoring existing customers can lead to higher customer exit and loss in much-needed revenue.
Don’t regard existing customers as business as usual: In this ever-changing environment, creating an exceptional customer experience has become the cornerstone of competitive brands that will last the stretch. In the case of DSTV, it has become complacent because of the assumed monopoly status leading to them taking customers for a ride.
Convert customers into referrals: Instead of becoming too big and a laggard of sorts, it is always strategic to provide platforms on which the loyal customers become referrals of the good brand so that there is a structured customer retention process. This is mainly because customers do not listen to brands speaking, they listen to people!
Promote your best customers: Help the customers narrate the loyalty journey they have travelled with the brand, highlighting both the big and small successes so that other customers can follow the journey. In competitive industries these ‘small steps’ matters the most.
Providing solutions to big problem: Customers are very loyal to brands that show the ability to take the lead in solving big problems that would have confronted them. In this case, if DSTV had invested time in seeking the options and settled for an option commonly shared by the customers, it would have become a brand of default choice. Unfortunately, it opted for the easy choice of blame shifting!
Diversify communication: There are so many platforms that the brands can employ to keep the customers informed and engaged with their services more so now than ever. It is therefore unforgivable for DSTV to take the whole nation on a wild goose chase, yet it could easily communicate via both traditional and social media and engage the customers for solutions and problem shooting!
Tabani Moyo is a chartered marketer, brand and communications strategist based in Harare. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
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A section of the Houghton at hole 12 is under construction, and due to this cut and fill, the brawlers encountered an adjusted course this week, and made a game of golf.
17-handicap Tapiwa Chisango emerged top of the pile with a sweet 36 points, and with this kind of form and accuracy game, he may well shoot to the record books in the tallies.
It will be some time before shaping and levelling on this slice of Houghton’s 12th green is ready for golf. The contractors are on site, and when finished it may prove to be an even more difficult stroke 1 than before.
Golf course design is not for the faint-hearted. One needs a concept first, and everything else from bunker placing, tee boxes, laser levelling, drainage and concrete.
Chisango is enjoying his game. Throughout the weeks his name is on the winners list(s). He ended the day on 36, four points ahead of second placed Smuts Ncube who finished a fighting second with 32.
Only four points separated the rest of the field in the 2nd , 3rd , 4 th , 5th and 6th result placement.
While Taps was setting the pace, the guy to watch, on consistency alone, is Smuts. The 7-handicap Smuts Ncube emerged from the thicket at the 16 th challenge unscathed, despite having to balance awkwardly trying to retrieve his ball from the marsh. He revealed that the construction site on the golf course did not worry him – only the traffic along 2nd Avenue and 3rd Street.
“Car engine noises definitely affects your drive. I think that the traffic is too close, especially along the holes next to the road,” said Ncube.
There are at least eight recognised dams at the Houghton, so the new water feature at the 12th will have a new green to the good. The turf on this course is in good nick.
Houghton is steeped in tradition. There is a history of having hosted no fewer than eight SA Open events, the first dating back to 1951. Original course design took place in 1926 when one AM Copland, the club’s first professional golfer laid out grass on tracks of land, but there was too much undulation.
Jack, and his thinking
Golf does not stand still, and neither is the Houghton stuck in history. In order to keep abreast of the game Jack Nicklaus design and architects were hired to design this stretch of land, Much of the challenge that the Brawlers played on this week, is a result of Jack, and his thinking.
Every golf course needs to have integrity, otherwise it is no different from an ordinary driving range.
Golfers will tell you that even with the construction, the Houghton is not brutally long. In order to defend the course from long hitters, strategically placed bunkers have been planted to catch the wayward drive.
The key to a good game here, if you are a Brawler playing in the highveld, is how you will select your clubs. Ask Tau Nkomo. He will tell you what happened between him and caddie while trying to swing at the 8th.
Bright Amisi’s game is coming on. He is playing straight, his ball techniques have improved. He took a good look at his golfing equipment as he arrived at the 18 th hole in the first session. It was clear that dog-leg challenge had given him a rough time while trying to steer the ball left.
His clubs are wrapped in gloves. And there was no way mud was going to stick on them. In the end he finished in the top 5.
It was a close finish at the top with Oliver 31, Ngoni and Bright a point back 30, and Tau rounded off at number 6 with 30.
Results for Martin and Noel placed them 7 th and 8 th with 29 points each. Also tied were Albert and Ralph with 28. Khanyile 27, Ray 27, Alister 26, Jumo 26, Walter Watadza 25, Kharmal 25, Wes 25, Thulani 25, Rob 24 and Prince 24 all rounded off the top 20 finish on a mild, sunny mid-July date.
19-handicap Don Chimhandamba dug his heels into the sand at the 14. With a nine he scooped both sand and ball from the deep bunker, and amazingly the ball landed on the green, and came out with one putt birdie.
From where he had come with his ball, this was some skill with his golf clubs.
“You cannot avoid to dig in, because you need some good balance. If you hit the ball square, it won’t jump. There is a ring of bunkers here, so even if you don’t want to leave your footmarks here, hit the sand, push the ball over and you are competing.”
For all his adventures with the sand at the Houghton Don finished on 23 points, and shared the result with Sims who also finished the day with 23. There was another tie on position 23 where Ovid and Taya both finished with 22 points.
The rest of the placement saw PD finish on 20, Captain Washie 19, Dennis 18, Farai 17, Shoko 14, new-comer Zaba 12 and Marve could only manage 11 after competing half the course.
Other Day’s Prizes were as follows:
Longest Drive 3 Taps
Longest Drive 15 Ngoni
Nearest To Pin 16 Alister
Nearest To Pin 7 Cpt Washie
You cannot avoid to dig in, because you need some good balance. If you hit the ball square, it won’t jump. There is a ring of bunkers here, so even if you don’t want to leave your footmarks here, hit the sand, push the ball over and you are competing.
What happens on the golf course, remains on the golf course
But I think that the cars are too close, especially along the whole stretch of estate along the 15, and there on the 11th and the 12,” said Ncube.
The turf on this course is in good nick.
Ray and Ovid call a truce.
Meet and greet at the 19th.
Meet and greet at the 19th.
BIB meet and greet at the Houghton.
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In the past 10 days, two towering figures in the history of South African music have died. Both were in their seventh decade: trumpet and flugelhorn player Johnny Mekoa was 72; guitarist Ray Chikapa Phiri, 70. Reflecting on their lives and work tells us a great deal about the intersection of black politics and culture under apartheid, and also about the ways South Africans see the music the world calls jazz.
Mekoa was born on the East Rand, where gold had been discovered in 1887. By the 1940s, his birthplace of Benoni was a bustling, relatively prosperous mining town pitted by reservoirs where whites sailed and picnicked while black citizens were confined to the neighbouring townships of Daveyton and Wattville.
In the townships, jazz bands abounded; Mekoa’s brother Fred was already a trumpeter, and from him, in gigs, and at the central Johannesburg rehearsal and education space of Dorkay House, the young Johnny honed his chops.
Phiri was born in Nelspruit, an agricultural town near the Mozambican border. Phiri’s father had come from Malawi: he was both a wage worker and the organiser of puppet shows that toured the area, and at which the young Raymond learned dancing and music.
Around Dorkay House, Mekoa met up with the players with whom he founded the Jazz Ministers in 1967. The Ministers built a reputation in township clubs and at the jazz festivals launched by liquor companies after prohibition for black drinkers was ended in 1961.
On a parallel track, Phiri had hooked up with drummer Isaac Mtshali and others to form The Cannibals, a Soweto Soul outfit which, with many others, was melding the feel of the US soul styles of Motown and Stax with South African roots idioms. They developed their skills playing backing for female smanje-manje groups such as the Mahotella Queens (smanje-manje was a fast-tempo, neo-traditional women’s performance style).
By the 1970s, the Jazz Ministers with albums “Zandile” and “Nomvula’s Jazz Dance”, were making sufficient waves for them to be invited to play Newport: something they finally achieved in 1976, stalled three times previously by the refusal of the authorities to grant Mekoa a visa.
Their track “Highland Drifter” stayed on the Zimbabwe charts for 18 weeks, but was banned in South Africa
Meanwhile, Phiri with outfit The Cannibals was making hits and waves. Their track “Highland Drifter” stayed on the Zimbabwe charts for 18 weeks, but was banned in South Africa.
Both, in their own musical arenas, nurtured black pride and defiance. The Ministers’ jazz was the music of a non-tribal urban, black working class whose very existence apartheid denied. In America – it was Bicentennial year – they were invited to perform on the deck of a South African warship. It was 1976; they refused. On their return, they were all hauled in for questioning by the police’s special branch, and remained under intermittent observation.
The Cannibals morphed into what became one of South Africa’s greatest bands, Stimela, joined by additional players. In both incarnations they reflected community resistance and hope. They recorded in English and the Malawian language Chichewa at a time when the apartheid regime, the recording industry, and the South African Broadcasting Corporation were insisting on a policy of “retribalisation” and black music sung in one African language only.
Whispers In The Deep/ Phinda Mzala
The zenith of their defiance, however, came with the 1986 album “Look, Listen and Decide”, whose track “Whispers In The Deep/ Phinda Mzala” became an anthem of resistance wherever it was played.
And the lines between Phiri’s popular music and Mekoa’s jazz were always highly permeable. When jazz festivals happened – increasingly less often after 1976 and into the repressive 1980s – audiences appreciated and danced to both. Levels of virtuosity were often equally high.
Both jazzmen regularly played in popular bands: on Stimela’s 1989 “Thoughts, Visions and Dreams”, the horn line includes saxophonists McCoy Mrubata, Teaspoon Ndlelu and Mandla Masuku. And a song like “Ngena Mntan’am” from 1984 was a popular song enjoyed by every radio listener, not jazz fans alone.
While he never stopped playing, Mekoa rapidly transitioned into a respected jazz scholar after he gained his first degree in the waning years of apartheid. He had earlier tried to enter formal music education in 1964, but found the doors closed to a man of colour.
Instead, he trained as an optician. But in the mid 1980s he won a Fulbright Scholarship to Indiana University, and went on to found the Music Academy of Gauteng, offering jazz education to the most deprived youngsters in his old home town. From that academy, a whole new generation of “young lion” players have emerged: Oscar Rachabane, Mthunzi Mvubu; Nhlanhla Mahlangu, Linda Tshabalala (“Why shouldn’t a sister play a horn?” Mekoa demanded), Malcolm Jiyane and more.
Phiri featured on both Paul Simon music tours, “Graceland” and “Rhythm of the Saints”, and collaborated with Laurie Anderson on the album “Strange Angels”.
He continued to compose and work with Stimela post-liberation (in May of this year, he told the website Music in Africa that he had material for three new albums finished and mastered). He also founded a music school, the Ray Phiri Artists’ Institute, at Ka Nyamazane in his home province of Mpumalanga.
One poignant contrast
Both musicians were awarded the South African national Order of Ikhamanga (Silver). But one other, poignant, contrast emerged at the time of their deaths. Although many aficionados knew of Mekoa’s death within hours of the event, it took most of the media days to catch up, tailing after tributes from government ministers.
The death of Phiri hit the headlines within hours of his death. The permeable, flexible terrain between genres that the careers of Phiri and Mekoa negotiated, is being replaced by the rigidities of marketing categories and media information slots.
As Phiri observed back in May: “You’re going to destroy the music for the sake of money. Young musicians nowadays … become a product; their art becomes tied up with the product.”
Yet for those who love and listen – really listen – the legacy of both men will live on equally in the music they made, and the fresh players, with fresh vision, they nurtured. May their spirits rest in peace; hamba kahle (go well). – The Conversation
Gwen Ansell is Associate of the Gordon Institute of Business Science, University of Pretoria. This article appeared in The Conversation
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