Malunga opens up on life, career



MUSICIAN Clive Malunga hogged the limelight in the late 1990s through his video Nesango, which became one of the best visual music productions in the country. The video relives some liberation war scenes, with helicopters descending on guerillas, horses chasing after suspected guerrillas, military vehicles on patrol and pungwe (overnight vigil) meetings with villagers.

The video was still regarded as one of the best visual productions from yesteryear musicians. It came with a unique flair. It is like an excerpt from a war movie. It exudes creativity and automatically became the video of the year on ZTV in 1997.

He talks to NewsDay Life & Style about his career and life.

Clive Malunga
I was born Clive Malunga, although Malunga is my totem (Shiri, Hungwe, Matapatira, Masarirambi, Chatibwege). My real surname is Antonio. My father came from Mozambique, a town called Villa Zumbo. We are of the Chikunda tribe.

I was born on November 25, 1960. I was born at a farm called Valley or Kingsdale Farm, some five kilometres from the town of Norton. I did my primary school education at St Eric’s in Norton. Both my late mother and father were domestic workers at Kingsdale Farm. I worked very hard to run away from the environment which I grew up in by trying to be a soccer player, but I settled for music as a career. I joined the music industry in 1985, and I released a vinyl single called Marimba Jive.

It was just an ice breaker, it did not take me anywhere. Through perseverance, I managed to strike the right chord in 1997, when I recorded the album Nesango. In 1992, we formed Jenaguru Arts Centre. That same year we launched the first Jenaguru Music Festival at the Harare Gardens. It was very successful. In 1993, we moved the Jenaguru Music Festival to Gwanzura Stadium. Our last festival was staged at the National Sports Stadium. We invited musical groups from the United States, Egypt, Mozambique, Zambia, Malawi and South Africa.
Jenaguru Arts Centre started doing cultural exchange programmes in Japan in 2002. We were also invited to perform in South Korea, on a music school cultural exchange programme. Because of the coronavirus pandemic this year, we cancelled our tour to South Korea, Taiwan and Japan. We are also selling our CDs and DVDs in South Korea and Japan. We are doing extremely well. We are currently working with the Zimbabwe government to produce a short film, which is likely to be on the market in December 2020. I am also working with music engineers and producers from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Genuine representation in Parliament
First and foremost, we must have a genuine representative in Parliament and the minister in charge of arts and culture must be in a position to answer any questions or queries pertaining to the arts industry. We need a very strong union of musicians. For all what I have mentioned, the final responsibility lies with the musicians themselves. Musicians must unite, for (us) them to speak with one voice. Jenaguru Music Festival from 1992 to 2005 brought musicians from all walks of life, for one common cause, which is unity. Strength is in numbers, divided we fall.

Musical journey
As much as you may be a good musician, if you are not lucky, you will not realise your dreams. I happened to be very lucky to come across a diplomat from Japan who understood my story and situation. This great woman has managed to carry us this far. Jenaguru Arts Centre has done great work through this woman called Tomoko Takahashi. I was discovered by a foreigner, when my fellow comrades were supposed to respond to my request. I give the praise and honour to our Almighty God.

In 1995 at Gwanzura Stadium, the late Cde Nathan Shamhuyarira and his wife came to the Jenaguru Music Festival to honour Thomas Mapfumo with a 21-carat gold medal. It was electric, the fans were on fire. It was also a great honour for Jenaguru Arts Centre to apply to the University of Zimbabwe for Mapfumo and Ambuya Stella Rambisai Chiweshe to be conferred with honorary degrees.

Jenaguru Arts Centre also wrote to Harare City Council for Mapfumo to be given the freedom of the city along First Street. As Jenaguru Arts Centre, we managed to buy tombstones for James Chimombe, Solomon Skuza, Tobias Areketa, Susan Mapfumo, Leonard Picket Chiyangwa, Charles Mapika and Jordan Chataika. We are currently organising two more tombstones for Biggie Tembo and Tinei Chikupo. I enjoy working with youngsters, grooming them and seeing them grow. We pay school fees for all kids who qualify to join Jenaguru Music and Dance Group. We provide nearly all the requirements. I just enjoy helping the less privileged. We have been sourcing for donations for schools in Zimbabwe, as well as orphanages, churches and the disabled.

Local music industry
The music industry is today awash with so many musicians, with great talent. They all want to fly, but it takes a while to get there.

Our music industry will not grow as much as we would want because of the absence of leadership from the government side, parastatal side and musicians themselves who have failed to form a viable union of musicians. Many musicians in Zimbabwean have managed to penetrate the international market.

They are carrying the Zimbabwean flag high, and for that I salute them. What makes me unhappy is the lack of coordination among musicians. Those who have managed to expose themselves to the international audience must realise that it is their duty and responsibility to carry on board those who are still climbing. Zimbabwean musicians don’t share information. Self-centred. Jonah Sithole died without teaching anyone how to play mbira on a guitar, the same with Elisha Josamu. Oliver Mtukudzi, even though he travelled the world over, he never introduced other up-and-coming artistes to his international audience. This time, we should copy what musicians in Congo, Nigeria, Mali, Senegal are doing, for the sake of providing a respected face of the music industry. Let us carry each other wherever we go. As I said earlier on, our strength is in numbers.

My biggest challenge has been my character — short-tempered — ready to exchange blows at the slightest provocation. I grew up in a difficult situation and I wanted to run away from poverty, but when people realised that I was aiming for greater things, they stood in my way. I was young at that time, full of energy and I saw it fit to just get rid of anyone who stood in my way.

I never wanted to go back to farm life as it was a nightmare for me. Now I am 60 years old, for the sake of reflection, I also take this opportunity to apologise to all those I disappointed. We make mistakes as we grow, but we must learn from mistakes, what is supposed to be good and that which has to be condemned. I wear a sober face now, ready to enjoy myself in a dignified way.

Our Jenaguru Music and Dance Group members are making us proud by excelling at school. We are organising with them to choose a university of their choice, either in South Korea or Japan. They are known already in many of the high learning centres because of the cultural exchange programmes we partner with universities every year. It is time, right now, to learn to share, even the most valuable that you may think of. United we stand.