“I love making music. It is a fascinating art form to draw and paint my ideas and to convey a message through rhythm and melody. Playing to a rhythm is not just about going through the motion, but also about going through the emotion,” says Victor Kunonga.
Kunonga is a masterful composer, lyricist and story teller of rare pedigree with a passion for his art. He considers music as the most powerful tool to convey messages of hope in today’s life and environment filled with various challenges.
His smooth, organic and homegrown music inspired by great Zimbabwean traditions, is like a rich and beautifully woven tapestry, sounds. It is a combination of strong jazz elements expertly fused with echoes of the mbira, mbakumba and katekwe drumbeats that are blended with modern day acoustic guitars.
Kunonga’s colourful musical arrangements are combined with well-thought-out lyrics to tell real stories that convey messages and touch the listener in a variety of ways. Varied strains and influences of trailblazing Zimbabwean artists of the 1980s emerge through his music; creating a popular appeal, especially among mature and discerning fans.
Kunonga has three albums to his credit, Handinete (I will persevere 2011), Uyo (2006) and Such Is Life-Ndanyengetedzwa (2003), a six-track album that effectively brought him to the limelight. His music has a profound sense of dignity and focuses on social issues.
His songs like Maidarirei?, Kure, Nzara and Mandirasa have hit the right chord with his fans from a wide cross section of Zimbabwean society. They have made a big impact in music circles as they address and confront issues of poverty, dispossession as well as rights and needs of ordinary people.
“There is a song for everybody on each of my albums,” said the softly spoken musician-cum social commentator Victor in an interview recently.
Kunonga’s touching lyrics also reflect the voices of the voiceless in contemporary Zimbabwe, a nation emerging from crisis and social inequity. This aspect has earned him accolades and critical acclaim.
In 2007 Kunonga was appointed a goodwill ambassador for the fight against poverty in Southern Africa by the national association of non-governmental organisations. In addition, his second album Uyo won him the Zimbabwe Music Award in 2006 in the Best Traditional Contemporary Group/Artiste category.
His growing musical influence has touched and changed lives of many Zimbabweans. This has seen him co-ordinating the “Stand Up and Take Action” campaign as well as participating in the “End Poverty” campaign through live performances in suburbs across Zimbabwe.
Kunonga’s reputation and stature as an artist is rapidly growing in the region. To date he has performed in Mozambique, Namibia, Malawi, Swaziland and Nigeria.
The 37-year-old symbol of the new generation of Zimbabwean musicians, discovered his passion for music at a young age in the dusty walkways of Hwedza, his rural home.
He started experimenting with music when in high school he became captain of the Northlea High School’s Marimba Band. His formal training in music started in 2001 when he participated in the Zimbabwe College of Music’s “Pop Workshops” under the tutelage of Filbert Marova.
Victor is married to Olga and they have two children; Piwai and Yanai.
A focused and loyal family man, he always manages to balance his personal and professional commitments by creating time for his family through travelling with them for performances, whenever possible.