AWARD-WINNING Afro-jazz singer and songwriter Victor Kunonga, has attributed his 16-year-long stay in the cutthroat industry to consistency.
BY FREEMAN MAKOPA
Although he has not been able to attract any corporate endorsement or deal, his lengthy career has taken him onto several international stages where he has collaborated with local and international artistes. These include Canada-based Jamaican poet Dbi Young, South African musician Bheki Khoza, Chengeto Brown, Norman Masamba, Constant Oudraogo from Burkina Faso and Nyamasvisva.
“I have pretty much survived without any recording deal or endorsement which is another achievement,” he said.
“Of course, I am looking out for opportunities that may come by for a lucrative deal or endorsement. I have survived a turbulent music industry and we are still one of the most respected brands in Zimbabwe. I have been on important platforms that have given the opportunity to represent my country.”
Kunonga, who is also a designer as he completed a commercial designing course in which he majored in graphics, said he was currently working on a new album that would hit the market soon.
“Making music and art never really stops. I am already working on the next project and also marketing the ones already done,” he said.
His discography is made up of Such is Life: Ndanyengetedzwa (2003) — which carries the blockbuster track Maidarirei?, Uyo (2006), Handinete (2010), Kwedu (2014) and Ndatsva (2019), all of which he said have sold well over the years.
With public performances having been shelved across the globe in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, Kunonga has not been spared the negative effects.
“But COVID-19 has literally brought down the industry and there is nothing much that can be done. The fact that public gatherings are suspended will always make it a little difficult to operate,” he said.
Kunonga also cited the crippling economic environment in the country as another major setback that has made it difficult for entertainers to operate.
“The major setback has been the economic environment that has at times made it difficult to operate, just like most industries in Zimbabwe. With fuel shortages, for example, people are not able to get themselves around to attend shows,” he said.
Born in Shurugwi in 1974, Kunonga grew up in the rural area of Hwedza before his family relocated to Bulawayo and then Harare, where his music talent was to be discovered and nurtured.
Having self-taught himself how to play the acoustic guitar, Kunonga appeared on the country’s music scene in 2004 and has since established himself as a household name.
He has cited some of Zimbabwe’s finest musicians — the late superstar Oliver Mtukudzi, Thomas Mapfumo, Louis Mhlanga and the late Chiwoniso Maraire — as his greatest inspiration with the traditional rhythms that defined their music.