Mbare, one of Zimbabwe’s oldest high-density suburbs, is often associated with negative things from crime and prostitution to poverty.
An oft-repeated sentiment is: What good can come out of Mbare?
Rarely does one hear of positive stories taking place in this bustling community of over
300 000 inhabitants.
But on Sunday, Faith Ministries’ Mbare Community Church (MCC) proved that there is much more to the neighbourhood than the negative hullabaloo.
There was a hive of activity at the church as approximately 1 000 people gathered to witness the launch of the church’s debut album Kingdom Praise Volume 1.
It was all joy and celebration at the event which was graced by the church’s leadership, including African Sun CEO and Faith Ministries’ senior pastor, Shingi Munyeza and popular gospel musicians.
“It’s history in the making; we’re witnessing the launch of our first album. It’s been a dream come true. You often hear people asking if any good can come out of Mbare, but this album will transform people not only in Mbare but in the country at large. What man has failed to do, God is able to do through man,” said Munatsi Sande, MCC’s pastor.
Popular a cappella group Shower Power, who were first on the stage, graced the launch with their mellow voices, evoking God with their version of African doo-woop, a form of a cappella.
They were followed by MCC’s Shabach Dance Factory who mesmerised the audience with their youthful, energetic dances.
The 50-member youthful MCC choir, Kingdom Praise, dressed in flowing brown and yellow-rimmed gowns then took to the stage with verve and pomp and sang with such soul-searching and spirit-invoking passion that they triggered ululations and whistles from the raucous audience.
Songs on the album are not only richly-themed but are also tight, well-arranged and exhibit maturity.
“When we began the journey here, we had a lot of issues to deal with in Mbare. Today, I can tell you that there’s a story of Mbare that was not being told but the time has come, this is it,” said Munyeza, quoting a Biblical verse, John 12:24, on why the form of the seed must die to reveal its nature.
“There are some things that had to die within us for us to achieve this feat. And I urge you all to let more things such as arrogance and pride die within you for us to reach new heights that God wants to take us to,” he added.
Stanley Gwanzura, popularly known as Pastor G, who also graced the event, gave a spirited performance that brought the church down, and left the audience crying for more.
He was followed by Matthew Matsetse, a gospel musician from Botswana, who sang his heart out to much applause before Kingdom Praise took to the stage again.
“We’ve been witnessing a lot of change, especially among young people in our community. We believe we have a message for our community in Mbare and our nation at large,” said Tafadzwa Maramba, elder in charge of praise and worship at the church.
According to Nolan Kahonde, the church’s music director, the intention is to produce an album every year.
“It’s been a learning curve and the experience in the studio, writing and arranging the songs has been a real blessing from the Almighty,” said Kahonde, who composed four songs on the album.
Songs on the album include Ngatimurumbidzei, Mandisimudzira, Mweya Mutsvene, Kubwinya, Ndimi Moga, Ndinodavira, Tamirira Mweya Mutsvene, Arise Oh Church Medley, Fire On the Altar and Zita Rashe.