Mai Welly: Hit that rocked the season Chief Hwenje

Blessings Chidakwa

Arts Reporter

There is only one chief to speak of in Zimbabwe, at least for now, and he is outside the realm of a traditional leader or a chief executive, but he is one that entertains.

Entertainment is his calling. Each time he coughs, the musical industry shakes, especially during election seasons.

Some of his hit songs are “ED Pfee” and the current hit “Mai Welly”, which are probably more popular than the singer himself, Chief Shumba Hwenje.

“Mai Welly” is a hit that has taken the streets by storm, especially during the campaign trail of the past August 23 harmonised elections in which the ruling Zanu PF party emerged victorious.

Whenever it was belted at the hugely packed Zanu PF rallies, it was all dances with supporters singing along mostly on the lines which mentioned the word Mai Welly.

It nearly became a contest of the waists among women in all their shapes and sizes taking turns to twerk. The song speaks of a real character, Mai Welly, just like what Sulumani Chimbetu did in his yesteryear hit “Alice Mbewe” in which he sings about a real character, Alice Mbewe, who had lost a child while merry making in Karoi.

Interestingly, Mai Welly has little if not nothing to do with Mai Welly, as Chief Shumba Hwenje, born Admire Sanyanga Sibanda, purely exhibited his artistic mastery by fusing politics and entertainment.

It was a song released as a purely Zanu PF campaign track with its message well packaged being centred on canvassing votes for President Mnangagwa and the ruling party.

Some of the lines go: “Honaiwo kwese uko yangova Mnangagwa, kwese kwese uko yangova Mnangagwa . . .”

Our crew took time to interact with Chief Shumba Hwenje who first shared how he got his stage name.

“I am a son of a Chief, hence that is the origin of the name Chief Shumba Hwenje Tirimusango. I am from the tribe of Chief Mapanzure,” he said. The artiste also became known as “ Chief Shumba Hwenje” in the mining town because of his songs that consistently reminded people of his totem.

Chief Hwenje while admitting the real Mai Welly is alive, prefers to speak less of her, rather mentioning in passing despite on several times being quizzed to shed more light on the character.

“Mai Welly is actually there in reality. However, her inclusion on the track was deliberate during the recording phase as a way of trying to market our music,” he said.

“We wanted to lure more voters to Zanu PF through entertainment and our concept was while one is enjoying the track he or she then gets to listen to Zanu PF message which was talking about the good works of the President and the ruling party.”

Chief Hwenje added: “The moment one was enthralled by the lyrics Mai Welly, it would then tempt them to continue listening to the whole track.”

The high riding artiste who boasts a several projects including collaborations with “Mebo” hit maker Obert Chari, Mark Ngwazi, Baba Harare, Sulumani and Allan Chimbetu, Mathias Mhere, Dorcas Moyo, Tambaoga, among others, said new projects were on the cards.

“There is a new video capturing all Zanu PF rallies held across the country showing the massive support that President was receiving. The video was done by people from Romania,” he said.

“Next year we have another album which I will avail to my fans, like always showcasing how talented I am.” Chief Hwenje has been in the music industry for many years, starting as a gospel musician and working with several musicians before deciding to go it alone.

In 2014, he hogged the limelight after doing a celebratory song for Shabanie Mine Football Club titled “Mabvaru Daira” during their campaign in the Super 8 trophy.

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