platforms for Zimbabwean artistes in the Diaspora to interact, network, exchange and exhibit their work. The venue was the Simon Langton Boys Grammar School, in Canterbury, Kent, some 30 kilometres from London, which saw a large audience, consisting of mainly Zimbabweans being entertained. Many people travelled from as far afield as Leeds, Birmingham and Manchester to witness the Zipa Arts Festival.
Among the delegates to this festival, was the deputy director of the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe, Mr Nicholas Moyo, who had been visiting the United Kingdom and the Girl Child Network director, Muzvare Betty Makoni, who spoke on publishing in the 21st century. Moyo discussed how the Diaspora arts could contribute to the development of the arts in Zimbabwe.
Many artistes who joined the forum expressed a huge interest in the issue of how to combat piracy, the situation on the ground in Zimbabwe and how artistes in the Diaspora can participate in investing in the area of creative industries in Zimbabwe.
There was great enthusiasm on the variety of the artistic groups that presented their range of genres. Every genre was represented: from urban grooves, chimurenga, dancehall, rhythm and blues to gospel. Gospel music opened up the platform with the Delighted Sisters in Harmony, and the energetic Royal Destiny who entertained the audiences with their harmonious and melodious voices. There was the evergreen Obert Mazivisa, who left audiences asking for more. In the traditional realm the groups Uzambezi Arts (imbube) and Chedu that played marimba took to the stage with well-polished acts. The aim was to bring together different acts all on one stage.
The evening was graced by the Lord Mayor of Canterbury, Councillor Robert Waters, who also presented the awards to the long-serving artistes in Zimbabwe. The main attraction was the first ever recognition of Lovemore Majaivana, who as a legend had never been recognised before. For some unknown reason, Zima and Nama which have been running since 2000, have never recognised Majaivana.
Lovemore plied his musical trade in Harare, where he played with the late Fanyana Dube. Majaivana has been a great inspiration to many a musician such as Jays Marabini, Solomon Skuza, Sandra Ndebele, Africa Revenge, Willis Watafi, Busi Ncube, Mantongande, Albert Nyathi and many more. The legacy of his music is carried on in the likes of Lwazi Tshabangu, his son Derrick Majaivana and Royal Destiny.
“Majaivana” means “a great dancer”. Lovemore Tshuma earned his name because of his agility and dazzling act while on stage.
Lovemore was born on December 14, 1954 in Mambo Township, Gweru, where his father, Reverend Tshuma, worked as a priest while his mother led the church choir. The family later moved to Bulawayo in the 1960s where Lovemore continued with his primary education.
Because his upbringing was now in a Ndebele environment, he found it only natural to sing Ndebele traditional songs at school. This singing later developed into a singing career after leaving school. According to Lovemore, both his mother and grandmother used to sing him some Ndebele folk songs which he in turn translated into pop music, better known as inquzu in the southern region of Zimbabwe.
Because of his thick baritone voice, his skills as a drummer and his excellent choreography on stage, a lot of musicians became interested in working with him. The groups that he played with in the early years of his career were High Chords, The Echoes, The Elbow Band and The Job’s Combination named after Job’s Nightclub (owned by then businessman Job Kadengu, where the group was the resident band).
This led to stints at places such as Honde Valley Hotel and Marisha Night Club, where Lovemore became a local hero. He also made an attempt at playing the guitar.
It was not until 1983 after he moved to Harare that Lovemore started churning out albums with his backing band., The Job’s Combination. Memorable tracks from some of the best LPs include “Okwabanye” (some people only take but never give), “Mama Ngivulele” (Mother please give me your blessing) “Istimela” (a lover blaming the train for going with his girlfriend), “Ukhozi” (the hawk taking away a child) and “Salanini Zinini” (farewell all my friends).
Like many youths of his time Lovemore became a singer without the approval of his parents. Most parents thought that music could never be a career for anyone.
As a result Lovemore used to sneak out in the evenings to rehearsals with groups such as the High Chords and the Echoes in Bulawayo. It was only after he had won the best vocalist slot at the Trade Fair in 1977 that his parents became aware of the fact that Lovemore was now taking music seriously.
On moving to Harare where there were no restrictions and after the death of his father he joined the Elbow band which only lasted for a short period. In 1980 Lovemore had the opportunity to share the stage with Bob Marley at Rufaro Stadium during Independence celebrations and later with musical giants such as Dorothy Masuka and Hugh Masekela.
After some misunderstandings while playing with Job’s Combination at Job’s Nite Spot in Harare, Lovemore was forced to leave the band and worked as a Dairiboard milk salesman for a short while. However, the passion for music grew even stronger after he had stopped playing.
In 1985, he could not resist this passion any longer. He travelled back to Bulawayo to team up with his brother Anderson and several other musicians who had just returned from Victoria Falls. They called themselves the Zulu Band. Without wasting time an album was recorded. This put Lovemore back on the music scene.
In 1987, while touring England, he recorded the album “Jiri” with the Zulu Band which was dedicated to the late Jairos Jiri, a man who was responsible for establishing a charitable organisation which looked after disabled people.
In 1993, after the death of his bass guitarist, Lovemore decided to quit music. When he did his last album, “Isono Sami”, one could not help but tell that the man was hurt from how he was treated by the music industry.
Majaivana was regarded as most prophetic especially as he created social commentary lyrics for his songs. “Angilamali” was one of the songs he expressed his pain until he emigrated to the US.
As the organisers of the Mporiro Arts Festival remarked: “It will not be helpful to start talking about what Majee said after he has gone and writing his obituary. Zimbabweans therefore need to honour their own before it is late.”
Majaivana, who quit singing a few years ago, has now turned into a businessman in the US.
On receiving his award, this is what Lovemore Majaivana had to say: “All along I have been wondering why my own people have ignored me when some people I started music with like Oliver Mtukudzi have been honoured so many times. This has been frustrating to think that I have been forgotten by my own people. I have been living with the thought that my people did not appreciate my immense contribution to the music industry in Zimbabwe. Now I am pleased for what Zipa has given me. Ngiyajabula kakhulu abantu bakithi sebeza bangkhumbula. You really don’t know what this means to me!”
The festival had its own teething problems which included starting late and that seems symbolic with the Zimbabwean folks but very retrogressive in the developed world.
Expectations are already high that the second edition of Mporiro Festival in the coming year will be bigger, better and stronger.
Fred Zindi is a professor at the University of Zimbabwe. He is also a musician and an author of several books on music. He can be contacted via e-mail on [email protected]