Tendai Chidarikire danced his way into the limelight when he won the Star Brite competition in 1992.
In the following years, he was also to win the Reps Theatre Best Performance Actor for his role in the play Ginger Bread Man in 1996.
He was adjudged the best new artist at High Density Records for his album Son of the Soil a year later. His video, Ndiringe, made into the prestigious Channel O playlist in 2001.
He also featured as a pastor in five episodes of the local soap, Studio 263. Afterwards, it appeared as if he danced his way out of the news headlines. But, as he speaks to NewsDay’s Phillip Chidavaenzi (ND), Chidarikire (TC) says he has not run out of steam.
Here are the excerpts:
ND: You have been silent for a while now. What has been happening?
TC: I’ve been out of Zimbabwe for about three years now. I’m working on a new album to be released in April by my company called Sasa Productions. Working on the album, I collaborated with a talented guy called Lameck who was part of the gospel group, Appointed.
ND: What can you say about the album?
TC: It looks at Zimbabwe as a deeply spiritual country. I love my country, and I’m trying to paint the real picture about it to xenophobic South Africans, those negative elements in society. The album is about giving confidence to Zimbabweans in South Africa and elsewhere you want to change their citizenship because of the negative experiences they go through in foreign countries.
There will be two musical videos, one for the song Veganda Dema and the other one for Music Mamakussa, which is a happy song, a fusion of Afro-Pop and house music. There will also be a new dance, which is different from the old bull dance. I’ve been associated with.
ND: Can you explain a bit more about this new dance?
TC: It’s called ganiser. It’s a new Afro-fusion walk. I believe that as a musician I have to be multi-dimensional, like an actor, singer and dancer all rolled into one. All these disciplines are inter-related.
ND: What kind of future do you envision for Zimbabwe?
TC: I think Zimbabwe is looking up to be bigger than ever before, to regain its bread basket status. The recent changes that I’ve seen in the country’s (political and economic) fortunes have motivated me.
ND: What else have you been doing in SA apart from the music?
TC: I’ve mainly been working in advertising, doing backtracks on television adverts. I would do 35 to 45 second jingles to accompany an advert.
ND: What else have you been up to in SA?
TC: I work as a group trainer for a company that offers corporate services, among others.
ND: How did you break into the SA entertainment industry?
TC: My first job was as a choreographer/dancer with Phoenix Dance Productions. I got this job three days after arriving in South Africa. I did advertising and marketing campaigns for the Citizen newspaper. I was later signed in by Jaffit Management, one of the Top 10 agencies in SA. For me breaking in was not too hard because I was fully prepared. I had a total package of my identity, from a National Arts Council reference as well as recommendation from Matthias Bangure of the Music Crossroads Southern Africa.
ND: Have you done collaborations with any other artistes?
TC: Yes, these include Tongai Chirisa (of the Mr Bones fame), Lututi Dhlamini and Sello Maake Ncube who used to feature in Generations as Archie Moroka.
ND: Any word of advice to Zimbabwean artists eyeing the SA market?
TC: They must be well prepared when they go there. It’s good to have press cuttings and other references they might have.
ND: You have also appeared on adverts?
TC: Yes, I’ve appeared on Sky TV as lead actor in adverts for the ICC World Twenty20. I have also appeared on billboards in Tokyo and Japan. I saw the hand of God in the breakthroughs that I have had because He provided divine favour for me. When I went for the auditions, I had ticket number 204 among the prospective candidates and I won! I also featured in adverts for Wimpy (2008), Sinupret (billboard, 2010) and Mango Airlines (2009).
ND: So, you beat all South African candidates?
TC: Yes, in fact they wanted a South African national initially. I didn’t even hide my Zimbabwean identity, and all my papers showed I was Zimbabwean. This was my first major breakthrough because it opened more doors. I was then sought by a television channel called ATTV in Randburg where I featured in a sitcom called Coconuts. It was also featured on e-tv/M-Net.
ND: How did the Nissan Sunny advert come about?
TC: When I went to this company, I met two old white guys and I was bold enough to speak to them, something that black South Africans never do. I then discovered they were the former directors of the movie, King Solomon’s Mines. They offered me a job for the advert.
ND: What about your slot in the soap, Scandal?
TC: It was a miracle, too. And my major competitor was fellow Zimbabwean, Leroy Gopal (of the Yellow Card fame). Initially I was supposed to feature in only two episodes because I was a foreigner. But I took the initiative to speak personally to the directors that there were many Zimbabweans who follow the soap, so it would be good to keep one of their own in it and they agreed.
ND: How much was your biggest ever deal worth?
TC: It was the M-Net deal, valued at R57 000
ND: Finally, what’s your vision?
TC: While in South Africa, I want to achieve in two years more than what I have achieved in two decades in Zimbabwe.