Ruth Butaumocho Gender Editor
IF music be the food of love, play on, Give me excess of it; that surfeiting, The appetite may sicken, and so die. IN this famous quotation from Twelfth Night Act 1, scene 1, 1–3, the lovelorn Duke Orsino of Illyria asks for more music to help him deal with his frustrations in his courtship of Countess Olivia.
The Duke muses that an excess of music might cure his obsession with love.
And 12 of incarcerated Independent End Time Message leader Robert Martin Gumbura’s 33 children have bought into the duke’s argument as they are using music to deal with the incarceration, for 40 years, of their father following his conviction for rape.
The Gumbura Band is the latest addition to Zimbabwe’s growing gospel music family, and the upbeat siblings say the sky is the limit as they are proving to be a hit at public events in Harare and its environs.
Through music, the Gumbura siblings said, they were putting behind them the sorrows of living without a father-figure in their lives as the gospel melodies had a therapeutic effect.
They said their musical compositions are influenced by their father whom they hold dear to their hearts.
“We have found joy, solace and comfort in music,” said 16-year-old Titus Gumbura, who plays the keyboards for the band, during an interview at the family’s home in Marlborough, Harare, yesterday.
Titus, Gumbura’s eldest son who appeared to have taken over his father’s bastion family roles, is fronting the band, made up of eight of his sisters and three of his young brothers who are still in primary school.
The eight girls, who mainly provide the vocals, are Zinzile (16), Zvikomborero (18), Zinhle (16), Kezia (15), Keren (18), Kimberley (14) Wongaishe (13), Milcah (15), Jemima (15) and Zoe (19).
On the instruments are Garainesuishe (12) on drums, Munesuishe (12) on bass guitar and Batainashe (12) on the lead guitar.
All the 12 children are enrolled at Tynwald Primary and Secondary schools where they are members of their respective school choirs.
“So, much has happened to our family following the arrest and subsequent incarceration of our dad,” said Titus.
“Music has proved to be therapeutic, it is comforting and we are happy that we are able to bond, and at the same time provide entertainment to legions of fans out there.
“The inspiration came from our father.”
Though the group is still fairly new on the musical scene, it has had its fair share of rave reviews following its debut performance at First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe’s rally that was held in Mbare, Harare, a fortnight ago.
For a group that was making its maiden public appearance, the Gumbura Band held its own when it performed an accappella song, Amazing Grace, which they composed for the First Lady in honour of her philanthropic activities.
With the eight sisters providing vocals and dancing, while the male quartet stomped their feet and clapped in unison, they gave out a polished act before legions of Zanu-PF supporters at the rally.
On Thursday, the Gumbura Band took its act to the first national empowerment conference at the City Sports Centre in Harare, where it serenaded youths who had gathered to attend the event.
Although the youths have played at several other private functions, it is probably the two functions that have announced their arrival.
“We are novices in the music industry, but the response we have been receiving has been good,” said 16-year-old Zinhle.
From a musical group that started off as a mere praise and worship choir in their father’s ministry, the Gumbura Band is asserting itself in the musical industry and plans to change the gospel music landscape.
With their sisterly and brotherly bond, the Gumbura Band members say they have more than 30 unrecorded compositions, 12 of them prepared especially for the grand occasion on the date of their father’s release.
“We are taking music seriously,” said Titus.
“Yes, we have dreams, aspirations and goals we intend to fulfil once we finish school, but music will always be our first love.”
It is for that reason that they take their musical practice seriously during the course of the week and during school holidays.
With the assistance of their musical teacher, Silas Mugwagwa, the siblings take their practice sessions seriously, while offering each other moral support.
“We have a future in music,” said Titus, adding that their musical legacy will live on because those members of the group who leave to pursue other interests would be replaced by the younger ones in Gumbura’s family of 33 children.
The world over, musical bands are often riddled with problems, resulting in splits and collapse of the outfits.
But the Gumbura Band does not envisage such calamity.
“We share a common bond, we are motivated by the same passion and we are all aiming at the same goals,” said Titus.
“We are our own people.”
Their passion for music has received support from their mothers, who are also excited about their children’s new-found pastime and a possible career for some of them.
“We have been giving them moral support from the time they decided to form the band, following the closure of our ministry.
“We ensure that they get all the necessary support when they are practicing. We also accompany them to public and private functions to give them moral support.
“We have since realised how important it is to them, so we try as much as possible to give them support. The musical project has really helped them to bond, they are now family,” said Queen Bunga, Gumbura’s second wife.
The Gumbura Band’s passion for music is, however, being dampened by lack of equipment.
The instruments they possess have become obsolete and sometimes break down in the middle of rehearsals or even during shows.
Some sections of society have not also taken kindly to the family’s entrance in the public arena, accusing the children of trying to court public sympathy for their incarcerated father currently serving a 40 year jail term for rape.
“We are not responsible for what happened. We are mere children who want to behave like other kids of our age, to have fun, follow our dreams and live like other kids,” said Kezia.
Who can argue with that?
And to borrow from the late, great Andy Brown, “let the children play’’.