Piracy: Somandla Ndebele cries loudest

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Mafia, as he is popularly referred by his fans, bemoaned that while their profession was energy sapping, their sweats are being enjoyed by street vendors selling their music.

BY ADMIRE JAMU-MLAMBO Veteran sungura musician Somandla “Mafia” Ndebele, who fronts Denda Brothers, is disappointed because music piracy has left artistes poor.

Mafia, as he is popularly referred by his fans, bemoaned that while their profession was energy sapping, their sweats are being enjoyed by street vendors selling their music.

“Our biggest challenge as musicians is the issue of piracy,” Ndebele said.

“We have noted that almost 98% of our music is being sold in the street corners at giveaway prices making it hard for musicians to eke out a living from their sweat.

“One thing of great concern is that fake accounts of musicians are being created on social media, particularly on YouTube and Facebook without the musician’s knowledge.”

The 50-year-old musician added: “My wish is that government should intervene and put a stop to all those selling CDs in the street so that they can save the music industry which is slowly disintegrating due to the effect of the ravaging piracy.  If this is done at least musicians can earn a living.”

As a way of showing his anger towards piracy, Ndebele released an album which he named Kurimira Hanga.

Zimbabwe Music Rights Association (Zimura) executive director Polisile Ncube-Chimhini said selling CDs on the streets was illegal.

“Piracy is copyright infringement and it is not confined to the illegal reproduction and sale of pirated discs. It also includes broadcasting music, public performance of music without the authority of the copyright owner,” Ncube-Chimhini said.

“Zimura discourages its clients from using pirated music, we tell them what pirated music is and how they can play music publicly without committing piracy.

“Hence, you will find that most of our clients are no longer using pirated discs but playing via streaming channels.

“We educate our clients against such practices during our licensing activities and through workshops being conducted countrywide, artists are also taught about their rights, that way they can identify and claim ownership of their works where they are pirated and seek redress.”

The Denda Brothers frontman is set to release his 25th album in September that is yet to be named.

“I am planning to release a new six-track album in September, but I haven’t got the title as of now,” he said.

“The album is mainly about social life and I expect it to be a better project than my previous productions.”

The Kwekwe-born and now Dzivaresekwa-based musician started his musical career with Wiriranai Sounds in 1986 where he was the band leader.

He released seven-single such as Chido Chemoyo flip side Mandiomesera (1988), Baba Vevana flip side Nhamo Dzakasiyana (1989) and Phumzile flip side Vakawanda Vakarambana.

However, Ndebele decided to change the name of his band Wiriranai Sounds to Denda Brothers.

“In 1992 I changed my band to Denda Brothers meaning a long spell of illness, therefore, I took it upon myself that my love for music was like that of a sick person with a very long illness which has prolonged for too long, hence the name Denda came into mind,” he said.

“In that same year I released my first album Ndingazviite Sei and the video using the name Denda Brothers and the rest is now history.”

To date Mafia has channelled out 24 great albums such as Ngatifare, Marwadzo, Kuvaka Musha, Zvamauya Zvanaka and Mwoyo Wekurera that he did with Tongai Moyo just to mention a few.

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