Gemma: Of sadza, Domboshawa, and Shona

Gemma

BY FREEMAN MAKOPA

ACOUSTIC song writer and singer Gemma Griffiths — after years of charming some of society’s elitist music circles — sang her way into the limelight following her hit duet with dancehall chanter Winky D, Mugarden, and shot to stardom almost overnight.

Gemma, who is single, has continued to dominate the music arena after attracting a huge following, with people fascinated by her Shona lines on the duet. Some even thought she was just mimicking.

Shona fluency

Having studied Shona at school, Gemma believes she has mastered enough to pass as a fluent Shona speaker.

“I remember my Shona lessons clearly,” she said.

The constant correction by those who pick on her grammatical errors is a reminder that perhaps the songbird still needs to work on her language.

“I want to be fluent (in my head, I’m fluent) but when other people constantly correct my grammar, it’s a reminder that I’m not,” she said.

Sadza as a reminder of home

Gemma is a globetrotter, but nomatter where she goes, there is always a pull for home in Zimbabwe’s staple meal.

“I love sadza,” she told NewsDay Weekender Life & Style. “It just reminds me of home.”

But can she cook sadza?

“Yes, I do cook it but I love to go out to Gava’s (Restaurant) to eat it as a treat. I also go to a place right on my road, so it makes it quite easy. I eat Sadza maybe a few times a week; it depends on whether I am busy or have lots of time.”

“My favourite places? I love Victoria Falls. How can you not fall in love with that place? I also really love watching the sun set in Domboshava. I also love London.”

Wanderlust

Gemma said she was a traveller at heart —almost always on the road, making music.

“There’s no such thing as a normal day for me. I’ve been on the road making my album. It’s been such a wonderful experience and over the last few months, I’ve been to Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Mozambique, South Africa and Kenya, just travelling, making music, connecting with people and also having life experience.”

Dealing with manager via WhatsApp

Gemma’s manager, Taponeswa, is based in London, but the two have found a way to work together effectively despite the distance.

“Taponeswa and I met a few years ago. She has just moved back to London from South Africa where she had been working for MTV, but pretty much we developed a relationship that built the framework for today,” Gemma said.

“We speak every morning, whether on WhatsApp or in voice, but it’s a really solid relationship. There are challenges with the distance but we make it work.”

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