Popular gospel outfit, Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) Voice of Mbare, is one of the oldest choirs in Zimbabwe that has remained intact for years, having been formed in 1985.
the style interview By Winstone Antonio
The 16-male-member choir’s formation is traced back to the church which has its roots in Malawi and sings in Chewa, Shona, English and Bemba. Unlike other choirs, the group has survived controversy and power struggles that have seen many local choirs splitting. CCAP Voice of Mbare is under the stewardship of William Mikaye. The Standard Style reporter, Winstone Antonio (WA) caught up with the choir’s secretary Charles Chisale (CC), who shared information about the choir’s current and future plans. Below are excerpts of the interview.
WA: Who are the founding members of CCAP Voice of Mbare and how many members make up the group?
CC: The group was founded by Amos Mukohiwa, David Banda, Israel Chamba, Chiyembekezo Chamba, Jeffry Amos and Andrew Macdonald. It is a male-dominated group that comprises 16 members.
WA: Are all the founding members still alive and with the group?
CC: Yes, all the founding members are still alive, with most of them having migrated to other countries. Only one of the founding members [Macdonald] is still around, providing guidance here and there.
WA: How is the choir structured?
CC: The group comprises the chairman William Mikaye, secretary Charles Chisale, treasurer Andrew Macdonald, music director Enock Kubvuta, two choirmasters, Luke Kubvuta and Samson Sentilao, and the remainder are committee members. These include Lazarus Muhoni, Arthur Meya, Herbert Kubvuta, Samson Chasauka, Bernard Banda, Oscar Chamba, Emmanuel Phiri, Shepherd Tengule and Vuyani Kahari.
WA: Many church choirs have been rocked by squabbles. What has helped you to keep the choir intact for all these years?
CC: Being a group determined to serve the living God through music, we have allowed Jesus to be the backbone of our group. The structure of the group has also helped in that it enables everyone in the group to be on the same level with regards to decision-making.
WA: What challenges have you faced as a group?
CC: There are a lot of challenges that the music industry in Zimbabwe faces and we are no exception. We have faced challenges in marketing our products and like anyone else, we face financial problems. You know the production of music is centred on these two critical components. We also had some of our members leaving the country in pursuit of greener pastures, which left a gap within the group.
WA: How have you manage to overcome the challenges?
CC: God blessed us with a leader [Mikaye], who is fully-committed to the group and who has provided financial assistance that helped the group in many ways. While many groups have suffered after key members left, at CCAP we made it a point that we should replace everyone who would have left to keep the momentum.
WA: How many albums and live DVDs have you recorded?
CC: The group has released eight albums with Nganganga , Ishe Makanaka , Alemekezeke , Kufamba NaJesu , Jesu Ndiye Wangu , Mbiri Kuna Mwari , Kune Musha and Flash Back both released last year. We have also recorded two live DVDs — Season 1, which was released last year and Season 2, which we did this year.
WA: Have you ever done projects with other artists?
CC: We have done collaborations with three artists — Macdonald Chidavaenzi, who is also a music producer, Minister Michael Mahendere and Pastor Charles Charamba. We have also collaborated with Malawian gospel musician Skeffa Chimoto.
WA: In this difficult economic environment, how are you managing to run the affairs of the choir?
CC: It is always important to remain united in times of difficulties and to remain focused on whatever you want to achieve as a group. Dedicating everything in the hands of the Lord and praying at all times as the Bible says in the book of Luke 21 vs 36.
WA: What are your future plans?
CC: We hope and still look forward to go international. We also look forward to continue ministering the word of God through music with the hope that the good news reaches all four corners of the world through this music.