Many remember her from way back when she first showed her acting prowess in the multiple award-winning film More Time, a 1993 Zimbabwean production which focused on HIV and Aids and social pressures among the youths.
Many more still acknowledge Prudence Katomeni-Mbofana, a Harare born talented songstress, actress, mother and wife, as the queen of jazz in Zimbabwe.
Born in 1977, Prue as she is affectionately known, started singing at the tender age of 8, and has not looked back since.
When she was only in Form Four, the country’s leading poet Albert Nyathi featured her in his classic song Senzeni Na, which the country fell in love with due to the emotional lyrics and sensational backing vocals which were done by Prue.
“When I perform, I get different people from different walks of life who come up to me and express how a song of mine speaks positively to them, or that the song picks their spirits up when they are low. For me that is priceless and it reassures me that I am in the right profession.”
With various albums to her name, Prudence has through her stunning, powerful voice managed to secure her position as one of Zimbabwe’s top jazz performers, and is a popular act at many events such as weddings where her performances always leave guests with smiles on their faces and newlyweds feeling even more in love.
Prudence is wife to seasoned broadcaster Comfort Mbofana and a wonderful mother who always strives to balance time between her demanding career and her family. “I am an early riser, have to be so I can find time for myself as well as to plan my day before the rest of the household is up and begin to demand my attention.
During a school term, it’s mainly getting the kids ready for school and taking them there. After that, I usually want to spend time with the baby before he takes his mid-morning long sleep.
By then I am working; this usually means I am teaching, assessing, in a studio session or rehearsing. Then there is prepping dinner, school run and if I don’t have an evening performance [I have] dinner with family, [help with] home work as well as getting the young ones ready for bed, which is a mission almost all the time. However, I must add that this programme is altered to accommodate performances that I may have, be it mornings, afternoons or evenings.”
With such a fully packed, eventful typical day, one wonders where the iconic musician even gets the strength and willpower to compose, rehearse and perform. Yet it seems her passion constantly drives her further. “I am passionate about quite a few things, but what tops the list is music creation and performance, which I would like to continue to showcase on platforms in and beyond the African boarders.”
Despite her love for music, the ever-smiling Prudence values family and building relationships, stating that there is nothing she would not do for her family and this has in times past included sacrificing her career for them.
“There have been many great challenges, but one that comes to mind is two international offers that I had to turn down because they came at a time when my children needed their mother around and I love my children and their happiness is worth any sacrifice.” What she enjoys most about her family are the different characters that compose it.” Each one of our boys is an individual in their own right, each with their own strong character, but tied by the unconditional love that one can only get in the family unit.
Whilst she is generally happy with most of the projects she has been involved in, Prue wishes she could do more. “With my family commitments, I have found it hard to commit to community projects; however, I donate my time and goods frequently to two children’s homes as well as to Mashambanzou Care Trust, a non-profit organisation that cares for those infected and affected by HIV and Aids. She is also a part-time employee at Gutu Cakes, a small business that makes delicious themed cakes for any occasion in the UK.
She draws most of her inspiration from life’s experiences, and holds her maternal grandmother as her best role model. “She was a humble woman who was strong in character and had great achievements in her lifetime.”
Prudence, a gym fanatic who says she would have chosen a career in the medical field if she hadn’t ventured into the arts industry, is a very tolerant individual who believes in staying true to her art and pursuing her interests despite all odds. “I think it is important to be tolerant as society. We were created differently and our diversity in religion, culture, and so on is what makes this world beautiful. As long as you are a child born in this universe, you have the right to be a part of it.”
Most of her songs exude her positive energy and never-say-die spirit. She says, “My joy will come in the morning, [mafaro anouya makuseni….”] as if to recapture the lyrics of one of her fairly recent and vibrant songs.
“It is important to believe in yourself and your art form. The road may be long but what you experience in that journey will equip you for what lies ahead. Learn from each experience.”