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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.

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

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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Features

Tanto Wavie | Founder of TrapSu, A Genre of Vibes and Reflection

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Tanto Wavie | Founder of TrapSu, A Genre of Vibes and Reflection Asante Afrika Magazine

The Zimbabwean music landscape has evolved in a big way during the past years we have witnessed the creation of new genres and new sounds. From the country’s infancy right through its maturity, we have been blessed with genres such as Sungura, Museve, urban groves, Zim dancehall. These sounds have played a crucial role in defining the culture and Identity of the Zimbabwean people. Our feature artist has done a remarkable job of fusing the sound of old, and the new sound of the times. We introduce to you Tanto Wavie

Zimbabwe is a country known for its hardships, corruption, and bad press overall. Through the midst of all these negatives, Zimbabwean art still thrives. As much as it is not lucrative for the collective at large most artists still find a way to release and make music. This one artist is no exception, Tanto Wavie is making waves through his music, no pun intended.

I first heard of Tanto a couple of years ago through a random YouTube suggestion of his song John Chibadura. This song is a tribute to the late John Badura a famous Zimbabwean Sungura artist whose music defined the fabric of the times in the early 80s to 90s, a legendary figure etched in the Mount Rushmore of Zimbabwean music greats. The intense base guitar Sungura fused with hip hop and Trap beats in a genius and flawless composition made me an instant fan. This was the beginning of a beautiful sonic relationship between me and this muso.

All his records laced with the vibrant and high-energy producer tag at the beginning of each song “chi beat cha Tanto,” translation “Tanto’s beat”, you know you are in for a treat. Many have tried to fuse or sample Sungura or Museve, only to produce mediocre results, leaving much to be desired. On the other hand, Tanto has successfully found the secret formula to this magic, in his cauldron he cooks up a concoction of a new brand of Trap and Sungura, cleverly dubbed Trapsu. He creates timeless jams I believe are still yet to be discovered and pieces that will echo through the passage of time. 

With releases such as Sungura Museve a pure non-skip album that features stand-out tracks such as Mudhipisi, translation a “cop out” or “straight up fool always killing the vibe for everybody”. Tanto narrates a story of an individual who’s always messing everything up when people are trying to live their best lives and have a good time. In true Sungura fashion, the songs on the project are very descriptive and comedic at best but trust me! the man’s projects are no joke, he is one to be taken seriously.

Tanto Wavie | Founder of TrapSu, A Genre of Vibes and Reflection Asante Afrika Magazine
SUNGURA MUSEVE – TANTO WAVIE

The album is also graced with Gems such as 007, Dzinga Munyama, Mabhachi ft Denim Woods with a killer verse, Heart Yangu a soulful Trap+Sungura+RNB just to name a few. After Sungura Museve he has dropped a number of projects and singles all bangers. The future is bright for Tanto and personally I can’t wait for the new drop this Friday “Wake Chaiye”.

In closing, I believe an artist like Tanto Wavie is the missing piece to the future of the Zimbabwean music scene. He not only embodies the heritage and legacy of a sound that carried and groomed a whole nation, but he also brings the energy of the present-day with artistic integrity and vigor. Tanto is one to most definitely watch out for. Zimbabwe, Africa are you ready???

Tanto Wavie | Founder of TrapSu, A Genre of Vibes and Reflection Asante Afrika Magazine

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Features

Moonchild District is in the Building and Propelling Young Artists Forward !!!

An interview with Moonchild Rye, founder of Moonchild District. An arts movement in Zimbabwe.

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Moonchild District is in the Building and Propelling Young Artists Forward !!! Asante Afrika Magazine

HAZEL Q. LIFA

Creativity of the brain is low key blasphemy…

What do you do when the world doesn’t make it easy for you to do what you are best at? Give up and call it a day? A young poet from Zimbabwe turned to the avenue of innovation and created a space for himself and other creative like himself. For many creatives in Zimbabwe finding a space let alone an uncensored environment where one can express themselves and create is a challenge.

The African nation’s economic challenges have left the Arts sector in a bit of a bind as creatives are finding it hard to connect with their peers; find welcoming communities and realise financial gain from their artistry. Thus sadly many are leaving their art for more stable professions. But the resilience of poets like Moonchild Rye aka He of the Moon formerly known as Prince Rayanne Chidzvondo has led to the birth of a powerful alliance of creatives and a worthwhile business. 

Moonchild District is in the Building and Propelling Young Artists Forward !!! Asante Afrika Magazine
Moonchild Rye

Zimbabwe is heavily talented, the only problem is, how can the art industry thrive in a state where no other industry is functioning. It’s not a shock when people won’t pay a $2 ticket to hear you perform, to a majority, it’s soft life, a luxury they cannot afford.

According to Moonchild Rye, “The system is also very conservative, you find that they’re still hiring Albert Nyathi years after his prime has long been established, do you not think we have other poets in Zim? Either way, Moonchild District will be the change to all this. We will make it hard for them to ignore us.”

Poetry is not my calling; I called it in order to find ways to heal myself.

Moonchild rye

Moonchild’s poetic journey (pun intended) began as early as grade 7. Despite imaginable discouragement from family Moonchild Rye remained optimistic. Moonchild Rye proudly states, “I speak the audacity of greatness into my bones; my ancestor’s whispered a talent into my marrow that sings in my head and heart, my hand dances when it writes. I am the voice of a generation and the generation of this voice.”

Moonchild Rye started off his fast-growing arts movement in May of 2021 with Moonchild District’s Night of May, which was a huge success followed by a slew of sold-out Moonchild District events. We caught up with the poet/media practitioner/digital marketer/content creator.

Moonchild District is in the Building and Propelling Young Artists Forward !!! Asante Afrika Magazine
Moonchild Rye with guests at a Moonchild District event.

Can you take us through your journey to realizing poetry is your calling?

I started writing when I was 12yrs and performed for the first time for a crowd at a Highlands Primary School’s Academic Eve. Poetry is not my calling; I called it in order to find ways to heal myself. Writing is a process of healing, recollection and establishing a path back to myself. It is a lie if you ever hear someone say, “I write for people”. It’s only the adult in me who has chosen to become a full-blown storyteller but I speak my heart, my healing, and my purpose. I speak the revolution betrothed to my tongue way before I was born.

Do you have any particular cause or topic you enjoy tackling with your poetry or do you create as you are inspired?

I create as inspired, but I have generally gravitation toward issues of mental health and human rights. I’m also a bit of a love poet. Like I said, writing for me is healing. They are words, stories and poems that are razors under my tongue. The poems I resist dig deeper into my chest like a buried soul mate.

They grow blurry and distant until I can’t find the sharpness but I can still taste how it made me feel. The feeling of poetry inside me can be like a dull hunger, the distorted memory of a bite. I can’t explain my creative process, it’s like magic spread over time and I’ll be the closest thing to God. Creativity of the brain is low key blasphemy. We are all creators.

Moonchild District is in the Building and Propelling Young Artists Forward !!! Asante Afrika Magazine
Call Me Refined on the Moonchild District stage.

What was your first impression of the Zim arts scene when you started?

My first thought was “There’s no one or anything like me, they need me and my mark is different.” This was in 2015 when I stumbled upon my first open mic scene.

Zimbabwe is heavily talented, the only problem is, how can the art industry thrive in a state where no other industry is functioning. It’s not a shock when people won’t pay a $2 ticket to hear you perform, to a majority, it’s soft life, a luxury they cannot afford.

I also saw the hunger of many artists and in my head, it was always my father reminding me I would not amount to anything, I believed it because the people I saw were hungry, with guitars on their backs and Shakespeare’s sonnets on their tongues. I saw an industry I didn’t want to be part of, but it’s the need to do things differently that persistently calls me to continue pursuing my dream and the dreams of others like me. I vowed to take business to the arts, a work in progress still.

Moonchild District is in the Building and Propelling Young Artists Forward !!! Asante Afrika Magazine
Artists preparing to take the stage at a Moonchild District event.

Most of all, I found family. I found people who were willing to accept the difference I had been persecuted for. I found belonging. I found the oneness of my heart, mind, body and soul. I found that there were stars that stammered to lend us the words we lost in the darkness. I found I was a writer, a content creator, a creative, and a storyteller, I found myself closer to the things that gave me joy, I found a path and purpose. I found a light in the midst of darkness. 

You mentioned instances of censorship in Zim’s creative sector; care to tell us about the worst case you experienced? You don’t have to mention names.

Everyone is an active gatekeeper of your work because they are scared for you. They tell you what to say, or how to say it, they ask you to rephrase, to remove something completely, and not mention names. They remind you of so and so who went a similar way. When my mother hears me planning, she asks “Is this what you have really chosen?” not to say she doubts my career path, it’s the way she says it, the look in her eyes to say “are you safe?”

Artistes are not safe.

We are not safe from ourselves, we are not safe among ourselves.

We are not safe in the world.

No one is safe. Our minds are surely ours but our bodies? Our bodies have never belonged to any of us really; we suffer because of the bodies that house our gifts. We are the voice of a generation but the system will always find a way to silence us.

Your experience as a creative in Zimbabwe led you to create Moonchild District, what was the thought process behind its epiphany?

I was tired of gravelling for people to include me and see me. When people won’t give you a seat at the table, create your own fucking table, one day they’ll wash your feet and massage your guests. In other words, I am going for everything they said I’d never have or do. Moonchild District is the love child of rejection and determination, they know I’m unstoppable but people tried to make me feel small so I would reduce myself to fit their narratives.

Moonchild District is a movement of artists like me; we outcasts have to stick together.

Moonchild District is in the Building and Propelling Young Artists Forward !!! Asante Afrika Magazine
Moonchild District audience enjoying the masquerade event.

So far what is your favourite Moonchild District event to date and why?

Every show is unique in its way; we are constantly trying to outdo the last event. The masquerade, however, had us host our biggest show with the biggest audience. So I think it’s worth noting that our audience grows bigger.

Which Moonchild District event proved to be hard to put together and how did you power through?

I hosted a show where 6 out of 10 performers didn’t turn up. I had to open the floor to the audience; fortunately, this is how we ended up hosting open mics. The audience loves the mic just as much as we do. Also, the financial aspect of every show we host always has me sleepless and anxiously biting my nails. We are an unfunded movement, and it’s not pretty.

Specifically, who is the Moonchild District movement open to and how can interested creatives join?

Moonchild district is a movement, I merely lead it. For one to join, they simply follow the movement and drive us where their heart seeks.

Moonchild District is in the Building and Propelling Young Artists Forward !!! Asante Afrika Magazine
Ndanatsa gracing the Moonchild District stage

Where do you see your career as a poet and Moonchild District in the years to come, let’s say five years?

I say this on behalf of the whole group; we are trying to feed ourselves, grow ourselves, to just make it to the next day. 5 years is a long time, today is survival, and so is tomorrow. That’s what counts right now. There’s no blueprint to this life thing. I am a visionary who is still scared that I’ll die with my visions whilst everyone fights to stay alive well after I’m gone.

With Moonchild District’s business aspect, what do you consider yourself to be more of a poet or businessman?

We just want to earn money through our crafts like anyone else. Why shouldn’t the words that feed your soul pay my bills? Why do we represent our culture and creativity when it can’t even raise a morsel of sadza to the lips? We want money. We are also motivated by money. We also want to write, sing, and speak for money. We want to be taken seriously like everyone else.

Any thoughts on how to further improve Zimbabwe’s Arts space?

A lot still needs to be done. We still live in a world where it is not viable to be an artist. The economy quite sucks, it’s hard to create sustainable and consistent development. Artists need strong support and administrative structures to help them build and grow. They also need to come together to harness and create art collectively, whilst sharing resources, contacts and information.

Organizations in Zimbabwe would like you to believe they’re helping everyone by funding a favourite or regular, but the truth is a lot of artists are failing to sail off, even to begin. Resources, information and platforms are accessible to a few who use this for themselves whilst artists part of their movements or projects feed off ‘exposure’.

Moonchild District is in the Building and Propelling Young Artists Forward !!! Asante Afrika Magazine
Thando on the Moonchild District stage.

Everyone by now knows Exposure will not pay bills or feed you.

The government would like us to believe they’re helping. There’s no platform for poets, for writers, they care about sports and Jah Prayzah, the rest of us are unseen, no matter how hard we try.

The Ministry of Youth, Sports, Arts and Recreation established a relief fund for artists in 2020, but it’s not a full substitute for lost earnings. And as you may suspect, this was clouded with corruption and nepotism, just like everything else in this country. If Moonchild district can conquer these problems in the next 5years, we can be the leading creative hub in the region:

  1. Lack of resources to create, manage and commercialise creative art in youth consequently hindering growth and sustainability for creative youth in Zimbabwe.
  2.  Lack of guidance socially, financially and mentorship towards harnessing their creative energy from a young age, there is a need to fight the archetype of the broke creative which is a stereotype that has made many lose before they began.
  3. Dependency on informal labour and gigs in a demanding economy, leaving most creatives to abandon the creative economy chain.
  4. Administrative structures are also lacking in most creative groups. Most creatives fail from trying to be everything, from the leader to the writing, the script, recruiting artists, paying them and booking venues, accounts, reviewing their own lawful agreements etc. There are also no structures to mobilize these diverse creatives into hybrid content creators.
  5. Failure to adapt to the emerging social and cultural changes in media and production, especially in the Covid 19 era.
  6. There is not enough mainstream representation of creative arts and artists to communicate value proposition, most creatives are swapping their creative talents for priorities that feed them. There is not enough integration between creative art and communities
  7. The lack of hybrid, quality, competitive content from creatives because of a lack of resources to collaborate with other creatives or assemble production requirements and surpass its value. This hinders the growth of the Zimbabwean creative economy as content remains incompetent no matter the invested talent under limited resources.
  8. There is no support for creative start-up businesses and innovations, the government does not guide or finance start-up businesses and creative entrepreneurship.  They lack micro-enterprises that represent them as external entities that would like to support the creative sector in more substantial ways.
  9. There are no cross-sector partnerships to play an integral role in the effective use of the arts and creative industries for maximum promotion and productivity of the creative youth. They’re only limited to what they know, platforms that do not pay for exposure and cannot build sustainable growth beyond the creative industry.
  10. Creative youth are 3 times more likely to suffer from depression, there are fewer resources equipped to provide artists with mental health care and self-navigation, making drugs, unproductivity and suicide a commonality within creative communities. Art can be used for healing, as therapy both to the creative and their audience.
  11. The lack of spaces and platforms for artists to meet, socialize or work on their projects and gather resources. There are not enough spaces that allow their freedom of expression to build towards their highest potential, and surrounding environments are hostile and unaffordable for the average creative youth. There are no platforms for them to manifest their ideas and visions without in house gatekeeping. Artists need spaces and platforms that allow their wings to grow, that allows them to rise up to the task and excel in their fields.
  12. Creatives lack information that allows them to excel towards sustainable growth. Creatives who are empowered with business management and technical knowledge concerning their crafts are able to make wiser decisions concerning the direction of their art and how to build a successful enterprise from their work. They lack the skills needed to present themselves, build their individual brands and access the beneficial necessary information to drive them forward. 

Do you have any particular creatives you wish to work with and why?

Moonchild District is in the Building and Propelling Young Artists Forward !!! Asante Afrika Magazine
Chengeto Brown

Ah yes! Chengeto Brown – she’s poetry walking. Hope Masike  – I stan a legendary queen and Dudu Manhenga. Also, anyone else there making strides, poetry really can be infused anywhere and with anything. Take us to fashion, and music, we will be there.

Moonchild District is in the Building and Propelling Young Artists Forward !!! Asante Afrika Magazine
Hope Masike

Most think pursuing work in any form of the Arts is a waste of time, what do you have to say to that?

It probably is. I guess you have to allow me to fully find out, yeah?

According to Moonchild Rye, there are plenty of shows to look forward to from the movement. Look out for, A night in May scheduled for the 21st of  May 2022 (2nd edition) and Nyamavhuvhu scheduled for August 2022 (2nd edition). For more information on these and other wonderful events to look out for from Moonchild District connect with the district on social media: 

Moonchild District is in the Building and Propelling Young Artists Forward !!! Asante Afrika Magazine
Poster for upcoming Moonchild District event.

FACEBOOK – Ndi Rayanne or Moonchild District

Instagram     – ndi.rayanne or moonchild.district

Instagram     – ndi.rayanne or moonchild.district

Twitter        – @NdiRayanne

Connect with Hazel Q. Lifa: hazel@asanteafrika.net

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Art

Mirroring The Times In Sculpture With David Ngwerume

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Mirroring The Times In Sculpture With David Ngwerume Asante Afrika Magazine

I am sure we all can agree that the beginning of the year 2020 was a rude awakening wrapped in a global event for the books due to the Covid19 pandemic. Zimbabwean sculptor slash Lawyer, David Chengetai Ngwerume, took to his creative outlet to not only process but provide a map for future generations in the form of his work, ‘The COVID-19 Pandemic Collection’ that has taken the world by storm.

According to Ngwerume, art “…is a duty and calling…”

The 40-year old’s sculpting journey started in the humble communal lands of Musana in 1995 under the instruction of revered fellow sculptor Cosmas Muchenje. He continued to excel in his academic studies as well which led him to an LLB (Bachelor of Laws, Honours) in 2006 from the University of Zimbabwe.  

Mirroring The Times In Sculpture With David Ngwerume Asante Afrika Magazine
One of Ngwerume’s pieces

According to Ngwerume, “Art is a duty and calling that I persistently continue using various forms mainly in Stone Sculpture in invoking thought into Humanity, share awareness with the contemptuous world.” Ngwerume’s sculptures have been exhibited all over the world from Hong Kong (China), Canada to the United States of America, and locally in Zimbabwe at the Hebert Chitepo Memorial. 

“My ambitions are global so I am in for it; it’s not always about where you are but where you are going.”

The sculptor’s ‘The COVID-19 Pandemic Collection’ comprises of pieces such as ‘MJ’ inspired by the pop icon Michael Jackson, encouraging people to mask up and get vaccinated. Another piece in the collection is called, ‘We are Torn’ which encourages people to sneeze into their elbows.

He is currently working on two other collections:

  • ‘Thy Next World Collection’ which addresses concerns pertaining to humanity as we move into the future;
  • And ‘Taking the Reins Collection’ which looks at the advancement of the world through the relationship between people and horses and their loyalty to humanity.

Ngwerume’s art is a reflection of the times and he is not stopping any time soon. He is also responsible for the iconic ‘Scales of Justice’ sculptures situated in front of the High Court in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare and the second capital, Bulawayo. We got to chat with the sculptor.

Mirroring The Times In Sculpture With David Ngwerume Asante Afrika Magazine
  • The first question is probably something you get a lot, but I just have to ask; how did you manage to find yourself in the world of law and sculpting? To us laymen, the fields look so vastly different.

I am a hard worker and I believe staying in work in both professions has made me invincible. The modern-day world is driven by skill and knowledge and it is acquired by putting in more effort.

“As a creative I also can tell you inspiration is everywhere, everyday life is filled with endless sources of influence.”

  • Have you ever found yourself in a position to choose between the two (law and sculpting) or a situation where one had to suffer for the benefit of the other?

Never! My ambition has always been to do more and I believe amongst the many I do I can manage both. If anything my professions feed off each other in a way.

  • What is the intention of your art?

To influence change in this world and make it a better place through various mediums from Stone Sculpture, paintings, installations and various other mediums in portraying contemporary messages that invoke thoughts into humanity towards shaping their moment in times and make this world move towards positive thinking. 

  • In a past article, it is mentioned that you draw inspiration from your experience practising law; can you remember the first case that inspired an exhibit? Why did you find the case worthy of being your muse?

The first case I got inspired by was a Domestic Violence case. It motivated me to do a painting titled, WOMEN – STRUGGLE from the CRADLE. It was the extent of damage this particular domestic abuse case had inflicted on those involved that moved me to create.

Mirroring The Times In Sculpture With David Ngwerume Asante Afrika Magazine
Ngwerume with more of his work.
  • In another article it is mentioned that you mostly use serpentine stone, why is that?

I use various types of stones in my sculpting, like Spring stone, Opal, Lepidolite and Granite. It all depends on the message I intend to portray.

  • Would you say you have any sculptors who either they personally or their work influences your work?

I am inspired by many sculptors like Michael Angelo, Gustav Vigeland and Dominic Benhura to name a few. As a creative I also can tell you inspiration is everywhere, everyday life is filled with endless sources of influence.

Mirroring The Times In Sculpture With David Ngwerume Asante Afrika Magazine
  • Sculpting isn’t really popular in Zimbabwe, how can you say the sculpting scene is in Zimbabwe? Is there a support structure from fellow sculptors or it’s more of finding your own way?

Zimbabwe in a nutshell is about finding your way, but the upside of today’s world is that it’s a global village. In this global village, if you do your best, the world will always notice. My ambitions are global so I am in for it; it’s not always about where you are but where you are going.

  • Could you please try explaining to us the creative journey you took in creating your popular COVID 19 Gallery?

The COVID-19 Pandemic is a global event affecting us all, and as an artist, I found it prudent to play my part in capturing the moments and share my views on Awareness and Vaccination.

Mirroring The Times In Sculpture With David Ngwerume Asante Afrika Magazine
Ngwerume’s piece ‘MJ’
  • In making the exhibit MJ, how did you hone in on making the sculpture about the U.S pop star Michael Jackson?

MJ was the first public figure to move around wearing a mask, and his actions were early warnings of our reality, where the air we breathe is not safe as before because of COVID-19. His messages then were foretelling.

  • According to New York-based art dealer Shingirai Mafara, your pieces are going to be part of the United Nations World Health Organisation permanent collection. Such an achievement, congratulations! How does knowing your work will live on long after you are gone feel? One could call it time travel of sorts, conversing with future generations.

I believe art is a reflection of perception and I am grateful for such higher strides being attained through my ingenuity. It is humbling to know that my work will inform, maybe even inspire future generations all over the world.

  • How has it been coming into contact with big art dealers like Shingirai Mafara and do you think that has or will affect your style or subject matter moving forward?

Such dealers inspire my work and further my will to create and give me higher hopes that my art will be seen globally.

Mirroring The Times In Sculpture With David Ngwerume Asante Afrika Magazine
Ngwerume’s piece, ‘Halt Child Marriages’
  • Your most recent exhibit, “Halt Child Marriages” is definitely one for the times. As a man, where do you think the root problem lies in Zimbabwe’s child-bride pandemic?   

The issue when it comes to child marriages is pure ugly GREED. The greediness in those men is uncalled for, it’s dirty, it’s illegal and it is immoral to view the young Girl Child as an object. We need to right such wrongs, and I am more than happy to lend my artistry to the cause.

(All pictures used are courtesy of David Ngwerume’s Facebook)

Interviewed by Hazel Lifa

hazel@asanteafrika.net

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