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Sango Edi – Giving Cameroon’s Makossa a Facelift

“The search for my identity as a Cameroonian inspired me to switch to Makossa.”



Sango Edi - Giving Cameroon's Makossa a Facelift Asante Afrika Magazine
Recording Artist and Music Producer, Sango Edi. Photography: @gettoknow_mimshack
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Born and raised in Buea, south-west of Cameroon, in West Central Africa, Sango Edi is a a recording artist and music producer who is taking the Cameroon music scene by storm. Currently based in Douala, Cameroon, Sango is making waves with his latest hit single, Moukanjo, which will have you nodding your head and feeling ‘some typ’a way’.

Sango started music in 2007, but his career as a producer began officially in 2010 when he started working as a music producer for a music studio which his uncle owned at the time. Before then, the singer and producer says he used to make music uncomfortably at friends’ houses, until he had the chance to run an actual studio – which became more of a learning process for him. “I wouldn’t say I learned music in school, I am more of self-taught, with plenty of assistance from my mentors, and of course, YouTube (chuckles).”

We caught up with him to learn more about his music and what inspires him.

Sango Edi - Giving Cameroon's Makossa a Facelift Asante Afrika Magazine
Sango Edi

You have been very passionate about assisting young people grow in their music careers in the region where you come from. What motivated you to take that path?

There’s an African saying which goes, “One hand no fit tie a bundle”, and I believe that sentence speaks for itself. We come from a place where people are selfish with ideas, and people want to only have the final meal from themselves, meanwhile there’s enough to go around. I have this personal saying that “Teach one person and you create a legend, but teach and uplift as many as you can, and you create a fleet of legends”. I mean, what’s better than one? Two, right? And giving back is my own way of thanking those who taught me and brought me up. If I don’t pass on the knowledge, then that would just make me a selfish person who doesn’t want to leave any legacy or create one. 

“I believe that as Africans, we need to start embracing our cultures and making sure that we have strong and solid core cultural values, because Africa was built on cultural values.”

You have switched genres a few times along the way, can you tell us more about that, and which genre are you focusing on now?

Switching genres was a way for me to find where I’m at now, which I think is the perfect place to be, because I am sitting on a solid rock that my forefathers constructed. I started off as a rapper before turning into a trap beat producer, then I had to start singing around 2012 when my long-time friend “Arrey”, forced me into singing. From there I decided to sing more and rap less, while simultaneously producing for others more than myself. The genre I’m focusing on now is Makossa, a very huge brand from this side of the world, and it is a genre which was once engineered by the likes of Manu Dibango, Kotto Bass, Sam Fan Thomas, to name a few. I chose this genre because it is my identity, it is a part of where I’m from, and it’s a means for people to know and understand where I come from, and be able to get inside my world. I could say that that’s what inspired me to get into this genre.

Sango Edi - Giving Cameroon's Makossa a Facelift Asante Afrika Magazine
Sango Edi

What or who inspired your decision to switch to Makossa?

The search for my identity as a Cameroonian inspired me to switch to Makossa, and one of my biggest motivators was/is Jules Nya, who is my ‘Artists and Repertoire’ (A & R), and mentor. He is a very monumental figure in these parts, and also one of the pioneers of Cameroonian urban music. He pushed me to find myself, and I’m grateful that I found the right direction during my search. 

“For hundreds of years, we’ve had generation after generation growing up to know and understand that the western ways are the right ways of doing things, and in that light, ignoring our core identity and cultural values.”

In your opinion, how important is it for an artist to have a manager who supports his/her dreams, but is also upfront and frank with the artist, and tells them when they think they can improve on their music?

I think that’s a very important and key factor to every successful artist. Having ‘yes-men’ around you doesn’t help you or anyone grow. If anything, one of the reasons I am doing what I am doing now and getting better at it every day, is because my manager and mentor told me straight to my face that the song I dropped before was “total sh**”, in those exact words (chuckles). I believe if people learn to be as real with each other as possible, the world (the arts industry especially), would be better and greater than it already is. 

Your current genre speaks a lot about your journey as a musician, and particularly your growth, self-awareness and appreciation of your ‘Africanness’. Tell us more about that.    

We come from a place where westerners stripped us of our identity. For hundreds of years we have had generation after generation growing up to know and understand that the western ways are the right ways of doing things, and in that light, ignoring our core identity and cultural values. We tend to copy from the wrong people and kill our own, thus barking up the wrong tree. I believe that as Africans, we need to start embracing our cultures and making sure that we have strong and solid core cultural values, because Africa was built on cultural values. I use this as a process of learning and finding out about myself and my motherland, as well as connecting with Her. It is very important for the African child to know the amount of greatness they carry, the amount of love and power buried deep within them, and the riches hidden deep beneath these soils we walk on. I grew up knowing another person’s perspective of Africa, which was completely incorrect information, and I wouldn’t want my kids and their kids to grow up in that kinda world. Africa is now. 

Your new single, ‘Moukanjo’, has done extremely well. It has a very deep meaning, and as you say, you didn’t want it to be ‘just another regular love song”. Can you tell us what the song is about and what it means, and what message did you want it to convey to the world?

The song MOUKANJO is a very communicative song, if I can put it that way. MOUKANJO, from where I am from, is a certain type of fish which was a delicacy back in the day, and was used mostly for important events and occasions. So I was/am expressing my love for a girl and telling her how important she is to me – as important as the fish was, or still is, from these parts. That’s the reason why the song has a water or ocean setting. It’s a way for people to not just listen to a regular love song, but also pick something from it while listening. I believe part of my job is to educate the youth and shed more light to their knowledge. 

How has the response been to the new path of music which you have taken?

Oh my, the response has been amazing. I am really grateful for everyone I work with; my team, my co-writer (who happens to be my mother-tongue coach and translator), and everyone contributing to this new journey of mine. It has been really beautiful, and I applaud everyone supporting me so far – ending out God’s blessings to each and every one of those people who took time to consume my music and connect with me. 

Sango Edi - Giving Cameroon's Makossa a Facelift Asante Afrika Magazine
Sango Edi

Judging from what we have seen on YouTube, the Cameroon music industry is quite ‘lit’, and there is a lot of competition. How do you set yourself apart from the rest of the musicians, and how do you maintain a unique sound?

First of all it’s key to note that we don’t do Afrobeat in Cameroon, but we generally do Makossa, Bikutsi, Bendskin, Njang and pop. Makossa is the most popular of them all. It’s an urban music genre from Cameroon with a rich heritage, as big or even bigger than Afrobeat at its prime. A genre that produced world-class acts like Manu Dibango,Sam, Fan Thomas, Ekambi Brilliant, Ben Decca, and Petit Pays. My music already speaks for itself and stands out – more like Pizza, you know. I figured that doing what you love and not what people want, sets you automatically apart from everyone else, and that’s a very soothing vantage, right?!

It is quite sad but common in Africa that even some of the best musicians do not make enough to earn a decent living out of their craft. You are quite blessed to have a job as a producer and audio engineer to supplement your income. What do you think we can do as Africans to empower young, upcoming artists and to raise awareness of the need to have other streams of income?

I believe it’s up to the youth to learn from the right people, instead of copying the ‘social media’ lifestyle which, of course, every youth that comes into the music or entertainment scene wants to live. It’s also up to those who are already there to make sure they educate the younger ones that there’s a great need for them to get regular jobs until their music starts paying, before they can solely depend on the music as a constant income. But even at that, we should learn to teach the younger people about investing and owning property. That’s how you stay winning. For some people, music ‘blows up’ fast – those are the lucky ones. But for others, it takes a longer time; so while waiting to get your big break, I will always suggest that you get something to do to fuel that musical engine of yours, that’s how you get to be twice as serious, because you know it’s literally your sweat and blood. That’s just my point of view.

You are so passionate about Africa and its talent and potential. Given a chance, which African country would be your first choice to visit and why?

Sango Edi - Giving Cameroon's Makossa a Facelift Asante Afrika Magazine
Sango Edi

You are so passionate about Africa and its talent and potential. Given a chance, which African country would be your first choice to visit and why?

Nigeria, no doubt. I love how passionate they are about their own things. They are very patriotic people as well, and they’ve just got so much which one can and should learn from. 

Which music or musicians from other African countries inspire(s) you, and why?

Burna Boy is always on the top of my list. It’s simple – he is an African man, a very conscious African man; exactly the type of person I would love to be – merging my musical Heritage with a perfect blend of my personal originality, and giving it back to the community. The late James Brown too; his performance energy and the amount of work and passion he put in his art as I read, was fabulous and extremely beautiful. He touched and still touches so many lives with his art, and he gave music that would last generations. That’s something to look up to. 

Sango Edi - Giving Cameroon's Makossa a Facelift Asante Afrika Magazine
Sango Edi

Usually in life it takes a long time for one to reach their full potential and to realise their dreams. What is your advice to young and upcoming African artists who are trying to make it in the music industry? And what advice would you give to those who have made it while young, in order for them to maintain their status?   

This advice goes to myself as well: “Every young artist, while struggling to get into the music or entertainment scene, should get a steady source of income. That’s the only way they can stay consistent in their art – invest in yourself, because you are your biggest product. For those who have made it, do the same, and invest and own assets, more than liabilities.

Photography by @gettoknow_mimshack

Connect with Sango Edi:


Twitter: @SangoEdi

Instagram: @sangoedi

Interviewed by Gugu Mpofu

Creative Outlet

Awake – A Short Story

“…not only will you heathens be subjected to eternal damnation, but it also smells like rotten eggs down there!”




Awake - A Short Story Asante Afrika Magazine
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Tiisetso Muloyi

A blinding white light obscured my vision. My ears rang from the piercing wail of a car hooter – a truck, perhaps? I couldn’t tell. For a moment, I felt as though I was in a state of suspended animation. A weightlessness of sorts: in limbo. Breathing became a great and painful feat. Every breath that passed through my dry, cracked lips felt like swallowing broken glass. Slammed forcefully into what I could only deduce was a deep, narrow gorge, with steep, towering sides, the feeling of weightlessness left me.

Awake - A Short Story Asante Afrika Magazine

The wheezing of my shallow, painful breaths gave me an inkling of what was going on. The taste of iron and metal on my tongue was nauseating as it made its way forcefully down my throat; choking me slightly. I couldn’t feel my legs, although that provided me with no comfort at all. My left arm lay at an awkward angle, bent backwards at the elbow, the white of the bone was visible through the torrential flow of my blood. The contrast was sharp and gruesome, making me heave through what felt like shattered ribs. I tried to move but an excruciating pain burned through my body, like a fire iron, rendering me immobile yet again.

The ache was both harrowing and stomach-churning. Turning my face to the side to expel my empty guts, bile rose up instead, and burned its way through my already parched throat. Small black dots danced around my vision, growing bigger and bigger, until finally, my eyes rolled into the back of my head.

And then… blissful darkness!

I was jolted abruptly into consciousness by some veiled force; a feeling of total disorientation descended upon me. Sitting up so suddenly left my body feeling heavy and my mind vertiginous. With heavy limbs and a thumping headache, I attempted to get my bearings, while simultaneously taking a mental inventory of my physical state. There was an oppressive weight pressing down on my already heavy chest, offset only by what felt like a sudden shocking jolt delivered to my heart. The consistent thump to my chest caused my already rapidly beating heart to flutter – no… to palpitate, violently – leaving my chest feeling both battered and bruised. Lifting my right hand to rub at the abused flesh, I took notice of a painful pinching sensation in the crook of my arm. The feeling was one akin to having an intravenous central line fed into your arm, but that couldn’t be possible.

Glancing down at the arm in question, I saw no imaginary needle; only the soft, wrinkled skin of the crook of my elbow – but the pinching sensation persisted.

Furrowing my brows in confusion, I took note of more puzzling occurrences; a faint beep, beep, beep… rang in my head, only to fall into the background, as I caught sporadic clipped conversations: “… clear. Patient still not responding… give me 360 joules…”. The command sounded like it was coming from somewhere inordinately far.

Awake - A Short Story Asante Afrika Magazine

“All clear!”, there it was again, followed by a shocking thump to my chest. What was the meaning of this? Was I hearing voices? How hard had I hit my head? Had I completely lost my mind? It was only during my decline into a mental breakdown that I deigned to study my surroundings.

It was the smell that hit me first. How had I not noticed it before? It was overwhelming! And now that it had gotten my attention, it worked its way into each one of my senses. My eyes began watering; my nose hair felt singed, and I gagged forcefully. The stench wrapped itself around me, almost like a living thing.

Brimstone. Fire and brimstone. A vague memory of high school flashes quickly in my mind: “…ah, brimstone,” intoned Mr. Mabala, speaking passionately to the uninterested group of pre-matriculants. Religious studies was not my idea of a good time, but the class was a breeze with its ‘no exam’ policy. “Reverently referred to in biblical times as ‘burning stone’, but now more commonly known as sulphur, it is found deep in the Earth’s core,” he said. “As a matter of fact, a number of books of the Bible often used it to describe hell. So, not only will you heathens be subjected to eternal damnation, but it also smells like rotten eggs down there!”, was his weak attempt at a joke, in order to receive some sort of gleeful reaction from the uninterested youth. Heavy sighs of obvious boredom were heard around the small classroom along with the shuffles of students impatiently waiting for the loud shrill of the final bell. Oh, how I wish I had listened during that lesson!

The echoing sounds of gnashing teeth and high-pitched wailing knocked me out of my reverie. Quickly wiping away the salty tears that obscured my vision, I stood on weak legs, aimlessly turning in circles, trying to find the origins of those haunting sounds.

My legs felt almost as though they were not my own, like they were borrowed. Admonishing the strange thought, I rid it completely from my mind. I had more pressing matters to attend to, like getting far away from this seemingly hellish place.

With scant visibility and rocky terrain, I couldn’t ascertain where exactly I was. Reaching for the imposing black rock wall at my side, I began looking for an exit. The walls were damp and the smell of must and rot permeated the dark, cavernous space. I must have been in a cave, an unbearably hot one at that. Sweat dripped into my eyes, stinging them slightly. It seemed that I may have been approaching the mouth of the cave as the heat became stifling, making it even harder to breathe.

The wails reverberated all around me and bounced off the cave walls. They were primal, guttural, and carried with them a debilitating sort of anguish and sorrow. Shrieking notes of pain and terror weaved themselves into the deafening cacophony. Had my hands not found purchase upon the slimy cave walls, I would have dropped to my knees under the unbearable weight of the suffering and torment heard from the relentless cries.

The gnashing and grinding of teeth grew so loud that it had begun to sound like the harsh screech of nails on a chalkboard. The jarring sounds shook me to my core, so much so that I had begun to gnash my teeth also.

I had made it to the mouth of the cave. The exit. Or was it just another door into a terror far more frightening than the screams of what seemed like thousands, if not millions, of tortured souls? The prospect of walking through the gaping maw was daunting; however, it had to be done, if I hoped to leave this place.

Scaling the side of the mountain on borrowed limbs proved to be an arduous task. I had slipped and almost fallen more than I cared to admit. Even drenched in sweat, and struggling to draw in my next laboured breath, I had made it out of that blasted cave. The sight before me had me wishing I had stayed in the cave. I had finally found the source of the disembodied keening.

I found myself traversing between two vastly different valleys. On one side raged an all-consuming, vicious fire, and on the other, a biting hail and snow beat down obstinately on the rough terrain. Thousands of what I assumed to be sinners bore the sweltering heat and the blistering cold. This went on until these tortured souls had had enough – whereupon they’d leap into the other, where the suffering continued, albeit in a slightly different way.

It was purgatory. An expansive pit shrouded heavily in ominous shadows. A vast obscurity teeming in all manner of things that go bump in the night. The shrill screams rose in crescendo and I could see why. Beneath the choking darkness, globules of inky black flames hung suspended in the air. Ascending high out of the flaming pit, then continuing its descent just as quickly. In each globe, was a soul. A singular human soul, damned to suffer burning in agony, as a solitary creature, without even the company of their fellow damned souls around them.

So distracted by my own musings, and the horrific sight that lay before me, I failed to take notice of the menacing creature that stalked my stationary form. By then it was already too late – a pair of what felt like burning hot, scaled, elephantine appendages, thrust me violently into the screaming chasm. My anguished scream faded into the deafening din along with all the others.

And then… I was falling!

A startled gasp ripped from my throat as I sat up abruptly. A bright fluorescent light blurred my vision, and a loud, incessant beeping noise, broke the silence. “We’ve got a pulse,” stated a loud voice to my immediate left. “Vitals are stabilizing,” it continued behind the face shield, draped in medical scrubs.

I was back. I was awake. It was a dream. While vivid and so life-like, it was naught but a lucid dream. Before the relief could settle my wary bones, an errant thought struck me. If it had been only a dream, then why did my back throb as though I had been burned by a pair of monstrous hands forcefully propelling me into darkness?

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What’s Trending in the Entertainment Industry

“It has been beautiful to see Nigerians around the world coming together to protest against police brutality.” ~ Wizkid




What's Trending in the Entertainment Industry Asante Afrika Magazine
Nigerian Singer & Songwriter, Wizkid
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Hazel Lifa



You know things are bad when musicians start dedicating their art to social issues. Which is exactly what Nigerian artist, Wizkid did. Wizkid has dedicated his latest album ‘Made in Lagos’, to the citizens of Nigeria, in light of the recent police brutality towards #EndSARS protesters. Wizkid stated in a press release: “It has been beautiful to see Nigerians around the world coming together to protest against police brutality.”

Burna Boy

Burna Boy was another big musician shedding light on the despairing SARS situation in Nigeria. The star released a new track titled 20:10:20. The song dropped on the same day the Lekki Massacre happened, where 12 people protesting against the brutality of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), lost their lives as they were gunned down by the police.

Zimbabwean Rapper Cal Vin Gone Too Soon

What's Trending in the Entertainment Industry Asante Afrika Magazine
Cal Vin Mgcini Nhliziyo (1984 – 2020)

African rap has lost a real one in a shocking, tragic and brutal hit and run accident. Zimbabwean rapper, Calvin Nhliziyo, aka Cal Vin, was struck by a car on his way back home from an outing in the wee hours of Sunday 25th October. The mysterious circumstances surrounding his death have brought up suspicions of foul play, two years ago the rapper released a song titled ‘Banjalo Abantu’ which many saw as a jab at Zimbabwe’s ruling party’s conduct. Police investigations are still underway. He was 35yrs old and he left behind his mother, and his beloved two year old daughter, Khloe.



Netflix has definitely been heating up in 2020, with bigger and better content. It fills my heart with joy to see the streaming company start to showcase African movies big time. There are obviously more African movies on the platform than the handpicked three below, so we encourage all to check them out.

King of Boys

King of Boys is a 2018 Nigerian crime political thriller film written, co-produced and directed by Kemi Adetiba.  This is Kemi Adetiba’s second director gig. The movie tells the story of Alhaja Eniola Salami (played by Sola Sobowale), a businesswoman and philanthropist with a promising political future. She is drawn into a struggle for power which in turn threatens everything around her as a result of her growing political ambitions. To come out of this on top, she is caught up in a game of trust, not knowing whom really to look up to, and this leads to her ruthlessness. The movie stars rappers Illbliss and Reminisce in their movie debut roles. Other cast members include Paul Sambo, Sani Muazu, Toni Tones, and Osas Ajibade.

Seriously Single

Dineo (Fulu Mugovhani) is the definition of a serial monogamist, but she always ends up being dumped. When she meets Lunga Sibiya, he seems to be the man she’s waited her whole life for, a man who shares her values when it comes to love and relationships. Or so she thinks – After a messy breakup with Lunga, her commitment-phobic bestie, Noni (Tumi Morake), helps Dineo face what she dreads most: life as a single woman. Now at her lowest point, Noni encourages Dineo to enjoy the spoils of singledom. Together, they take the city nightlife by storm with twists and turns in sue.

The Perfect Picture, Ten Years Later

The girls are back. And their lives haven’t lost one spark of the drama they had 10 years ago. In fact, these girls are saddled with more issues in their not-so-fairy-tale relationships. It’s a beautiful mess of imperfect husbands, repentant ex-boyfriends, and daring romantic exploits. The Ghanaian movie about growing up and everything in between. This sequel offers a colourful and humorous look into a world where everything is as perfect as your life and that of your friends.

The original film was about the same three women pushing their thirties and making bold attempts to change their lives.


Stay With Me by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀

What's Trending in the Entertainment Industry Asante Afrika Magazine

This book is considered a gem of African excellence by critics, in not only as literature but in our ability to tell a story. The novel is Adébáyọ̀’s first novel and was shortlisted for the prestigious Women’s Prize for Fiction. It is set in Nigeria; providing us with the voices of both husband and wife as they tell the story of their marriage–and the complications that threatened their home.

Blackass by A. Igoni Barrett

What's Trending in the Entertainment Industry Asante Afrika Magazine

The book is the African equivalent to Kafka’s Metamorphosis. It tells the story of Furo Wariboko, a Nigerian man, who wakes up one day to discover that he has become white. Helon Habila writes in The Guardian: “Igoni Barrett’s greatest asset is his ability to satirise the ridiculous extents people, especially Lagosians, go to in order to appear important.”

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Music And The Arts

Music and the Arts With U.K Based Radio Personality, “The Air Marshall Commander” – Phillip Sibanda

Phillip Sibanda talks about his latest community project, as well as what is lacking in the music industry in Matabeleland, and what can be done to bring about change.




Music and the Arts With U.K Based Radio Personality, "The Air Marshall Commander" - Phillip Sibanda Asante Afrika Magazine
Phillip Sibanda
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Born in a family of many radio personalities, it was only inevitable that MC, Radio Presenter, Producer and Media Researcher, Phillip Sibanda, also became a prominent radio personality. Currently working at Wythenshawe FM 97.2 in Manchester, and freelancing at Radio54 Panorama, Phillip talks about his latest community project, as well as what is lacking in the music industry in Matabeleland, and what can be done to bring about change.

What or who inspired you to become a radio presenter?

I come from a family of three renowned Zimbawean broadcasters namely Eric Knight, Kelvin Sifelani and Comfort Mbofana. So without a doubt, they definitely inspired me to get into radio broadcasting.  

How are you related to the famous Zimbabwean former radio DJ Eric Knight and what is your current working relationship with him?

Eric is my cousin, we grew up together and thus we are very close. When he started his latest project, Radio54 African Panorama, I was the first one to get a call about it and we are now working together on that project. 

Music and the Arts With U.K Based Radio Personality, "The Air Marshall Commander" - Phillip Sibanda Asante Afrika Magazine
Phillip Sibanda (right), with Eric Knight

How important do you think radio still is in this day and age where people can use podcasts, be their own DJ and stream all the music they like? 

Radio is still very important because when you look at it, a lot of the people doing podcasts and live streams are actually emulating, and are inspired by conventional radio DJs. We as conventional radio DJs also very much embrace podcast and live streaming tech, because it affords us a wider reach from all over the world. It is only unfortunate that in countries like Zimbabwe, WiFI or data is very expensive and not everyone has a smartphone, thus we cannot reach as many people as we would love to.  

Is radio a dying art or is it still alive and kicking?

In my opinion, radio will never die! Radio stations whose content is well-balanced and cater for various demographics will certainly thrive, or continue to thrive. 

Tell us about Saving Souls Community Development Trust. How did it come about?

Helping the less fortunate has always been a part of me from a young age. My grandfather was well known in our village community for his charity work, and my mother was a Social Worker, so naturally, they taught me that you can, and must make a difference. Having grown up in Matabeleland which is socio-economically marginalised, I decided to team up with a group of people from Matabeleland, which includes musicians and artists and other professionals who are based mostly in the diaspora, so that we could start this initiative to help disadvantaged people in our region back home. We are still in the process of registering the Trust, and we believe that together we will be able to make a difference in our people’s lives.      

Music and the Arts With U.K Based Radio Personality, "The Air Marshall Commander" - Phillip Sibanda Asante Afrika Magazine
Phillip Sibanda

What are the long-term goals of the initiative with regards to supporting the arts and music industry in Zimbabwe?

We want to see artists from our region recognised, especially the young and upcoming ones. It hurts me to see young, talented artists whose music is not recognised and does not receive much airplay for various reasons; therefore we have taken it upon ourselves to promote their talent and give them that recognition, at the same time assisting them to raise the standards and quality of their work. 

Do you have any plans of establishing a kind of Pension Fund scheme for retired Zimbabwean artists? 

Yes, that is definitely in the pipeline. I personally do not know much about technicalities and legalities, so I am fortunate to have a team of professionals assisting me with drafting the documents. First and foremost of course, would be to sit down with the artists themselves, and hear what kind of a future they would want after retiring from performing, and see if we can assist them with making their dreams a reality.  

Music and the Arts With U.K Based Radio Personality, "The Air Marshall Commander" - Phillip Sibanda Asante Afrika Magazine
Phillip Sibanda

So what inspired you to take the necessary steps to make that a reality?

Frankly speaking, this is a topic that I have been discussing for a while now with musicians such as Jeys Marabini, Madlela and poets like Obert Dube and Mehlo kaZulu. I was touched when Jeys Marabini told me that he had been booed and pelted off the stage in Harare simply for singing in isiNdebele. This is one of the reasons I decided that we need to do something to appreciate our musicians while they are still alive. 

How do you plan to get artists to buy in and believe in this initiative?

We plan to market and promote the artists who will be part of our initiative by organising shows for them. Gate takings from the shows will be donated to selected beneficiaries such as orphanages, and a percentage of the takings will be given to the musicians as tokens of appreciation. Each musician or artist who will be part of our initiative will be known as an Ambassador. As we have more shows, we hope that this will improve the lives of the musicians and those of the selected beneficiaries.   

How do you think we can help artists to better understand the business side of the industry in order to have fewer stories of them being taken advantage of and being left with very little to nothing after many years of successful careers?

The same way I have trusted professionals in my camp assisting me with certain issues, I think that artists should also strive to find people that they can trust, and who have their best interests at heart, to manage their affairs. At the same time, one should always be wary and vigilant, because even those that you trust the most can still take advantage of you. Platforms like Spotify are now available, and it is now easier to sell your music and receive your money directly. Artists should take advantage of tech and be very proactive on their financial issues. We also need to encourage especially the young and upcoming artists, to invest in businesses and properties when they manage to get windfalls. If you are fortunate enough to get a big deal which brings you a substantial amount of money, do not spend it all on parties and entertaining friends. Humility goes a long way. 

How can we as ordinary listeners help to support and invest in our artists in this modern age of sharing music via social media and illegal downloads? 

First and foremost, it is of paramount importance that we discourage piracy all around the world. Secondly, as a presenter, I would encourage especially Zimbabwean musicians, to work on improving the quality of their music productions so that we can support them even more. Some of the best musicians in the world will take a whole year recording and producing just one album, meanwhile you find our own artists releasing a track or an album every two months or so. This leads to substandard, poor quality work which cannot be promoted or shared with the rest of the world. Lastly, I encourage artists to put their music on digital platforms such as iTunes and Spotify where people have to pay to get their music, and we as members of the public should strive to support them by buying their music. Radio stations and their presenters as well should avoid asking for free downloads from artists, and support them by purchasing their music.    

A lot of artists from places like Bulawayo, for example Lovemore Majaivana, have decried a lack of support in their hometowns. In your opinion, what are the reasons for this happening and how can we change it?

A few weeks ago I interviewed Albert Nyathi, who happens to be Lovemore Majaivana’s cousin, and he narrated the sad story of how only very few people paid for tickets to watch Lovemore perform in Bulawayo recently. It is heartbreaking when your own people do not support you. The only way to get around that, is by pre-selling tickets before a show. Show promoters also need to improve on their work of marketing these shows. Even when economic times were not so bad, I have heard a lot of artists who perform in Bulawayo saying there were only 15 audience members in a theatre of 300 people capacity. We really need to remember that these artists make their living by performing, and we should try our best to support them.

Many artists feel that their success is dependent on their location as many aspire to “make it” in the capital city, Harare. As a radio personality, how have you seen the introduction of more community radio stations improve the lives or careers of artists in those smaller areas? 

The introduction of stations like Skyz Metro in Bulawayo has improved the recognition for artists in and around Bulawayo. But still, it is not enough and more can and should be done. It is a very unfortunate situation that for you to receive a community radio station license in Zimbabwe, one has to pay thousands of dollars, and still it is not even guaranteed that you will get that license, as the process is very much politicised. Corruption is a pandemic which has kept our country so backwards, and further worsens the situation in already marginalised regions like Matabeleland. It would be wonderful for Filabusi, Binga, Tsholotsho and other areas to have their own radio stations. Children could grow up listening to people broadcasting in their own areas and in their own languages such as Kalanga, Tonga, tshiVenda, etc. The fact that everything is still centralised in major cities is a  deterrent because people from small towns might not have access to, or the means to travel to a major city to submit their work. It is also a sad scenario where presenters of big radio stations allegedly take bribes from artists in return for airplay.  If that is true, it is absolutely heartbreaking for talented artists from less fortunate backgrounds.  

Why do you also think it is the case that local artists seem to be appreciated more outside of their countries? A case in point is Afro-Fusion musician Prudence Mabhena, who is a household name in foreign countries such as America and Switzerland, but not so much at home.    

In Prudence’s case, it is quite obvious that she is not recognised hugely because of her disability, and this breaks my heart. Overseas, facilities and venues are wheelchair accessible and people are more trained on how to care for someone with special needs like hers, and therefore she is not viewed as any different from able-bodied people. 

On other local artists not being recognised, again money comes into play – where only the big names can afford to market themselves more, or to pay presenters for airplay, as is alleged. I guess it is also a matter of who you know, which is quite unfair. 

Music and the Arts With U.K Based Radio Personality, "The Air Marshall Commander" - Phillip Sibanda Asante Afrika Magazine
Phillip Sibanda

In your opinion, do you think the arts industry will ever grow to similar levels as the South African arts industry? What do you think can be done to improve all aspects of the arts and music industry? 

I’m sorry to say, but some of the music from Zimbabwe is of very poor quality. As I mentioned before, a lot of artists do rushed jobs when recording and producing their music. Another problem is that our artists want to copy South African or American musicians, with very poor end results. In order for our artists to improve the music industry, a lot of them first have to improve on the quality of their products. Take your time when composing or recording, and do your utmost best to maintain originality. Plan, in order to succeed, and make sure the quality is perfect. We will definitely work to help artists improve the quality of their music, and maybe one day we could have the next Ringo Madlingozi coming out of Bulawayo. 

Interviewed by Bongani Mahlangu, Twitter: @Originalboi_b

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