LOCAL artiste Evans “Pfumela” Mapfumo has been selected to be part of the stellar line-up of performers at the 19th edition of the Africa’s premier, Sauti za Busara 2022 Music Festival scheduled for February 11 to 13 in Zanzibar, Tanzania.
Sauti za Busara (which means Sounds of Wisdom in Swahili) is an annual pan-African music festival that celebrates cultural pluralism organised by Busara Promotions, a non-governmental organisation registered in Zanzibar. A music teacher and entrepreneur, Mapfumo was selected from more than 300 applicants for the only 21 available slots on the main stage and Amphitheatre Stage at the festival.
NewsDay (ND) Life & Style correspondent Tendai Sauta caught up with Mapfumo (EV) and below are excerpts from the interview.
ND: Briefly tell us about yourself and your career as a music teacher-cum-musician?
EV: I am a singer, songwriter and I play acoustic guitar. Besides performing, I am also a music teacher who holds a national certificate in music (Mutare Polytechnic), Bachelor’s Degree in ethnomusicology (Africa University) and a diploma in marketing. In my career as a music teacher, I have taught at different institutions in Harare and Cape Town, South Africa. I have taught at primary, high school and tertiary levels. It is, however, unfortunate that at the moment I am not attached. I have managed to record two tracks, something which was difficult for me to do when I was working full-time.
ND: You have been selected for the Sauti za Busara music festival in Tanzania, how do you feel?
EV: I am happy to be performing at such a prestigious platform. I am optimistic that the COVID-19 pandemic-induced restrictions will have eased by the festival time.
ND: How are you preparing for the festival?
EV: At the moment, I have approached the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe and I will be given a supporting letter which will assist me in sourcing sponsorship for us to cover some costs ahead of the tour. I intend to approach various stakeholders to support us including the Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation ministry.
ND: What challenges are you facing in your preparations?
EV: The main challenge is that we need to rehearse, but most rehearsal spaces are expensive. At the moment, I do not have a stable income. The other challenge is that we do not have enough instruments, so we hire when we have shows. Also, the issue of transport is another challenge we are facing when we travel for performances. I believe sooner or later things will work out for us.
ND: How are you coping under COVID-19-induced lockdowns?
EV: The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected the arts sector, especially performing arts. I have not performed for some time because I had a full-time job. I had to reorganise myself and embark on the journey of recording music. In a way, the lockdown made me reflect and gather momentum towards my music career. I feel the pinch of not being able to perform and entertain my fans and getting paid out of it. Sometimes I get paid through individual lessons from people who want to learn how to play musical instruments, that is how I am surviving under the COVID-19 environment.
ND: Do we have balanced opportunities for men and women in music?
EV: I think things are happening differently now. Women are doing their best like their male counterparts. I know some local female musicians who are doing it, even outside the borders, the likes of Edith WeUtonga, who inspires me a lot, Ammara Brown, Tammy Moyo, Feli Nandi, Anita Jackson just to mention a few. If you look at any music style or any music genre, you will find female musicians who are on fire, so I think it is balanced now.
ND: Is the media playing a role in marketing our artistes?
EV: Like I said before, I have been a full-time music teacher so I cannot authoritatively comment on that.
ND: What is your word of advice to those who intend to enter the music industry?
EV: I would encourage them to do so at a very tender age. And when you are into music, you have to be yourself and do your best to make things work through practice, being focused, humble and self-branding.
ND: Your closing remarks?
EV: Being a musician is a profession just like any other, so the same business ethics used in any profession should apply. My wish is to see the arts sector being treated the same as any other by our policymakers. To those who are doing music, please do not give up, remain focused and be yourself and above all, just believe that God has everything under control.
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