Nyore Madzianike Senior Arts Reporter
former President Robert Gabriel Mugabe inspired a lot of artists during his tenure which ended in 2017 after the country attained independence in 1980.
His appreciation for the arts was witnessed when he invited the late reggae music legend, Bob Marley, to perform at the 1980 independence celebrations held at Rufaro Stadium in Mbare, Harare.
Bob Marley shared the stage with other local musicians on the memorable day.
A number of policies were introduced over the years, including creating the arts ministry, with most of Cde Mugabe’s contributions having changed the scope of the arts sector at the turn of the millennium.
It was at the turn of the millennium that his leadership gave thumbs up to the hosting of State sponsored musical galas around the country’s 10 provinces in commemoration of special days on the country’s calendar.
The Independence galas and Heroes Splash were created to celebrate the 18th April Independence Day and the commemorations of the fallen heroes and heroines on Heroes Day in August of each year.
Mzee Bira and Umdala Wethu Gala were held in honour of the late two Vice Presidents, Dr Simon Vengesai Muzenda and Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nyongolo Nkomo.
Dr Muzenda died on September 20, 2023, while Dr Nkomo passed on July 1, 1999
Another event – 21st Movement Gala – also brought artists together when they shared the stage to celebrate Cde Mugabe’s birthday which came on February 21.
There was also the Unity gala which was held to celebrate the unity between Zapu and Zanu.
These galas gave an opportunity to upcoming artists to showcase their talents and also reignite the waning batteries of some musicians whose career were at the verge of collapse.
Local musicians enjoyed the 75 percent local content policy which was introduced during Cde Mugabe’s era and was vital in promoting local music.
Cde Mugabe has also inspired a lot of artists, with sculptors like Dominic Benhura dedicating a piece of his work to the late former President.
Another highlight of his appreciation of the arts was when he handed over the Big Brother Africa participant Munyaradzi Chidzonga $300 000 on his return from the house in South Africa.
Chidzonga had come third in the 2008 edition of the Big Brother Africa.
When dendera musician Simon Chimbetu died in 2004, the Government conferred him the provincial hero status after Cde Mugabe was satisfied that the Orchestra Dendera Kings boss had played a pivotal role in the music industry.