Egoli: The Gold that attracts Zim artistes
By Munashe Rungano
Johannesburg or simply Egoli- has remained faithful to its somewhat folkloric fame of being the city of Gold-the land which is believed to ooze of greener pastures across the African landscape.
Yet even during this day, it remains a dominion of crafting and realising dreams with the Zimbabwean showbiz sector with numerous musicians domiciled in that city.
Like the Joburg of the old where several fathers disappeared for years, the second capital of South Africa has created a consistently ‘vibey’ and conducive nest for Zim artistes who frequently trek down the giant city across the Limpopo to showcase, market, milk and invest.
This has seen to the growth of various Zimbabwe owned entertainment joints that thrive weekly with performances by different Zim musicians drawn from different genres, sungura and Zimdancehall headlining the list.
One particular joint, which has hosted epic Zimbabwean shows is the Johannesburg Ekhuruleni Hotel in Boksburg.
Superstar Oliver Mtukudzi, sungura ace Alick Macheso, Jah Prayzah and dendera artiste Tryson Chimbetu among others have all been hosted at the venue.
So popular has become the hotel’s traditional weekend Zim shows that even South African nationals have shown interest by attending the gigs.
Ekhuruleni hotel manager, Dony Nikisi believes it’s a matter of the hard work which is being instilled by the artistes to reach their fans.
“Piracy has crippled the music industry so musicians solely rely on live shows to sustain a living. South Africa being in a better economical state they have found it much easier to come down here and attract better crowds than in Zim where the majority are struggling to make ends meet,” he said.
“Another contributing factor also is the increase of Zimbabweans living in Jozi as many people have come across the border in search of a better living. Usually they get starved of fun and a relief from their daily chores will be due.”
The equation of artistes scrambling for the glimpsy SA night life is incomplete without the mention of promoters. As much as Zim shows have risen, so has been the sprouting of music promoters based in South Africa.
Sifiso Gumpo, of Johannesburg based Hawaai Entertainment has attributed the growth of the weekend Zim gigs to the rise of opportunists who masquerade as promoters to fleece revelers of their money.
“I agree there is an increase in the live shows held by Zim artistes around SA but its unfortunate most of these guys are not even recognised promoters. They abuse and take advantage of artistes without any contractual agreements. It’s a pity artistes fall easy prey because of the common street belief everything is glamorous in Joburg,” he said.
Gumpo, who has spearheaded successful shows for Seh Calaz, Maskiri and Shinsoman in Jozi, however said he would not downplay the demand of Zimbabwean gigs due to the growth in fan base.
He said: “Nowadays anyone is comfortable with venturing into promotion anywhere here because the demand is just high, which ever artiste you bring down here with good marketing you are guaranteed you will strike gold.”
It does not end there as the need for a quick buck in SA has also seen some Zimbabwean artistes resettling for good in Mzansi to create and maintain a fan base away from the much competitive music zone in Zimbabwe.
In a recent interview with Showbiz from his base in South Africa, former Utakataka express bassist and Orchestra Vazvamburi front man, Ronnie Mudhindo said he had found the going much easier musically in SA.
“I settled in a mining town where l have managed to make a name for myself as we hold two live shows every weekend. The good thing about it is we together with my band we have all secured day jobs which see us through as compared to nguva yataiva kumusha ma shows anga akunetsa apa kuti utsvage kana basa hariwanike,” said the lanky sungura musician.
Durban based Tafadzwa Mushekwi, also known as TK Holun, echoed Mudhindo’s sentiments adding that the showbiz platform in South Africa was wider and more rewarding compared to Zim.
The Ndafunga kure hitmaker, who re-launched his career in the coastal city said that South Africa opened a free range role which allows one to double as an artiste and do other menial jobs for a living.
The artiste who for long worked in a restaurant before opening his Shapestone Studios, added that top of the range recording equipment in South Africa was the other magnet for Zimbabwean artistes.
Kwasa Rasta proponent, Dino Mudondo has also found himself among the list of artistes that have relocated in search of better fortunes.
Now based in Cape Town, Dino attributed his 3000 km great trek to the need to tap onto the international market.
Said Dino: “I am looking into engaging other musicians this side to do collaborations which will further my career. l believe being here in South Africa, as a reggae artiste, where Lucky Dube made it, l am a step closer to achieving my goal as an internationally recognised singer.”
Jimalo Sports Bar and Grill located in Cape Town is not to be out done as far as hosting and promoting Zimbabwean artistes in South Africa.
Owned by Jimmy Jimalo the joint has lit up the city being behind Chimurenga music god father, Thomas Mukanya Mapfumo shows while Sulumani Chimbetu and Peter Moyo have become regular performers at the venue whenever they trot to Cape Town.