Ekurhuleni Boksburg Hotel
By Munashe Rungano
It’s a Friday night and although it’s a thousand kilometres away from Harare; there is a familiar setting outside the Ekurhuleni Hotel in Boksburg, South Africa.
Zimbos can be seen roaming at the hotel; some jostling to gain entrance. There is some piercing live music sound coming out from the main auditorium and oh yes it’s our own Zim music.
Inside, there is a swelling crowd of mainly Zimbabweans who can be seen dancing the night away while others engage in catch up talk.
On stage is a vibrant SA based Zim Afro Jazz band doing yester year renditions of hits by Tuku and Tanga WekwaSando.
“This is the place where we feel at home mdhara (my brother). I make sure I attend at least one show once a week. It also brings us together as Zimbabweans living in South Africa and helps us networking business wise,” said Chegutu born but Chitungwiza raised Clifford Phiri who has been in SA since 2013.
According to the proprietor Rodger Muzawazi, the hotel which is 30km east of Johannesburg started holding live shows late 2013 after realising there was a huge number of Zimbabweans in and around Gauteng who were entertainment starved especially when it comes to live shows.
“We had a lot of Zimbabweans among our clientele who would request that we invite some musicians from home a call we gave a deaf ear to for quite some time,” he said.
“Since the inception of the live shows the response has been overwhelming from the Zimbabwean folk. l would attribute that to the fact that our business as a hotel and sports bar has been remarkable offering the best and competitive service.
“It’s also good to see people supporting one of their own in foreign territory as they continue to come in numbers to all our arranged events,” said Muzawazi.
Muzawazi added that the venue, which just went through renovations as part of their yearly routine, also hosts corporate functions and wedding which has helped them in the marketing and growth of the entertainment and hospitality entity.
Speaking to Showbiz about the criteria they use in selecting artistes for performances at the hotel the joint’s events manager Donie Nikisi said their main objective was to bring Zimbabwean talent to SA and keep their patrons closer to home through music.
“We work with all musicians from seasoned to the budding ones. I would say one element we are strict on when choosing acts is professionalism. Our brand is still growing so we avoid by all means to dent it and rather maintain it by doing business with artistes who respect their work,” said Nikisi.
“Every Saturday we have our resident musician on stage at the moment we working with Jacob Moyana on that slot but it gets to change giving others an opportunity to showcase on stage.
“Amara Brown has been here so has Selmor Mtukudzi and also Franco ‘Slomo’ and now we hosting Mbira DzeNharira, you can see that we strive in our efforts to bring a little bit of everything to the Zimbabwean community here.”
He said they try to balance between entertaining and also grooming the young artistes who lack exposure by pitting them with the big guns on stage whenever they host big names at the Hotel.
“As you can see we have revamped to accommodate the ever increasing number of revellers at our shows. We get from 500 to 2000 people in attendance depending on the scheduled acts something which is encouraging us to work harder,” he said.
“We have even intensified our programing this year as we have lined up a number of big shows namely Night of Legends which will see superstar Oliver Mtukudzi sharing the stage with veteran Zexie Manatsa and another one coming up will be Alick Macheso supported by Pah Chihera and Ammara Brown,” he said.
Nikisi said at the moment they were working to accommodate Zim dancehall so as to attract and reach out to the young at heart across the Limpopo.
Ekurhuleni Boksburg Hotel is fast becoming the entertainment haven for most Zimbabweans in SA who throng the venue making it their second home.
The hotel has hosted epic shows notably the Jah Prayzah and Alick Macheso separate shows which drew thousands of patrons in.
Other artistes that have performed at the venue include Batswana songtress Slizer and the Utakataka band heir Peter Moyo.