I’m above competition: Madzibaba

Nicholas Zakaria

Freeman Makopa

SUNGURA legend and Khiama Boys frontman Nicholas Zakaria also known as Madzibaba or Senior Lecturer, says he has seen it all and matured musically such that he does not feel threatened by the new crop of musicians. Instead, he would rather take them for a lecture on how he navigated the treacherous waters to be where he is.

The sungura musician has diversified into agriculture in a bid not to put all his eggs in one basket as experience has taught him that music business can be turbulent, hence the need for safety nets. NewsDay’s Life & Style reporter Freeman Makopa (ND) caught up with Madzibaba (NC) and below are the excerpts of the interview.

ND: What excites you most in this industry?

NC: As a seasoned musician, I believe I am above competition. I actually take pride in the achievements of the younger generation and they are welcome to come and tap from our experience.

As a musician, I feel going professional to reap more rewards is the way to go because after my branding deal with multi-award-winning public relations and advertising agency, Esteem Communications, my brand has taken a new high. We are very professional in all our engagements and highly accessible for music-related or business deals.

ND: Musically, do you have new projects in progress?

NC: We have done a lot of collaborations and also produced a joint album with Simon Mutambi in September last year, which we launched at a local hotel. Work on the 2021 album has also started and we are promising fans a scorcher of an album. We are encouraged by the continued recognition after we won Best Sungura award at the Zimbabwe Music Awards (Zima) and also got the Living Legends Lifetime Achievement award at the National Arts Merit Awards (Nama).

We also want to have more professional videos this year and we are happy with the support coming our way. We also have a Nashtv Hotspot live performance of the 2020 song Bvuma Kurairwa which we recorded a few weeks ago and it is doing well on YouTube.

We are also scaling up the executive sungura concept which we started with the launch of our 2020 album Bvuma Kurairwa at a local hotel. My type of sungura is laid back, but hard hitting and we hope to tap into the corporate and executive markets with performances in hotels, corporate spaces and upmarket venues.

ND: If you look at the music industry, do you feel it has grown?

NC: Besides the setbacks of such vices as piracy, the music industry has revolutionised and a lot of innovation is coming into play. I like how the new crop of musicians is experimenting and taking the Zimbabwean sound across the world. I, however, encourage them to maintain their originality.

ND: You used to be a member of the Johanne Masowe apostolic sect, what happened?

NC: Being a Madzibaba was part of my spiritual journey, but I have since stopped fellowshipping there and I now go to a completely different denomination. Being a public figure, my association with the church back then drew a lot of interest, hence the moniker Madzibaba.

That name has become synonymous with my brand and I have no qualms with people calling me Madzibaba though I no longer fellowship there. Some call me the Senior Lecturer, others Professor and I am okay with all those names.

It just shows a certain connection with the market.

ND: Why has Madzibaba diversified into farming?

NC: I do own a farming plot in Mvurwi, Mashonaland Central where I have been doing some small-scale farming, but my plan is to go all out this coming season. It’s time to invest sustainably and I believe farming is one of the best ways to do so.

Much of the talk around me and farming is also because of a farming-related campaign that I am pushing with a local player in the banking sector. The campaign is meant to educate farmers on financial intelligence and investing wisely, complete with a lot of giveaways to enhance their work.

The campaign has seen me in the fields and pushing farming ideals which have generated a lot of talk about my new interest in agriculture.

It is just a coincidence that I got that deal at a time when I am moving into full-scale farming, but that is not to say I am leaving music. I still have a lot to offer musically and have actually professionalised my brand. I intend to take the sungura sound beyond borders.

Follow Freeman on twitter @FreemanMakopa