The Zimbabwean diaspora community is teeming with talent, from stand-up comedians, musicians, writers, show presenters right down to actors. Thanks to new technology, these talented Zimbabweans are able to make use of different online platforms to showcase their acquired talents to the rest of the world, but most importantly, to their audiences back home. What endears most of these talented “diasporans” to the generality of Zimbabweans is content that resonates with events taking place back home — and that is exactly what WeRShuta is doing.
the style interview By Chipo Masara
WeRShuta is a team of two Zimbabwean ladies living in the diaspora whose YouTube channel Shuta Beta is fast gaining traction. The pair has, to date, posted many humourous skits, most of which centre on the Zimbabwean way of life, gaining them many faithful followers.
Even though their command of the English language is excellent, as is the case with most Zimbabweans living in English-speaking western countries, WeRShuta prefer to make use of Shona almost as much as they do English in their skits.
The Standard Style reporter Chipo Masara (CM) recently caught up with the pair (SB). Below are excerpts from the interview.
CM: Who is Shuta? Tell me about yourselves.
SB: Shuta is a mash up of two totems: Shumba and Beta. So we have two ladies, one referred to as Muera Shumba — real name Otni Chinenere — and the other referred to as Muera Beta — real name Ruvimbo Mvududu.
The way Shuta came about was in 2014 after participating in a dance challenge that occurred on the Facebook platform Zvirikufaya naKedha. After occassionaly posting different videos from skits to dance videos, we decided to branch away from KTv and start our own thing on YouTube.
Both of us were born in Harare at the Mbuya Nehanda Maternity Hospital and we grew up in Zimbabwe. Otni left Zimbabwe to go to Cyprus to college in 2009 and Ruvimbo left Zim to come to Canada for university in 2007. Otni then moved to Canada in 2010 and we became fast friends.
Now we are currently based in different countries; Ruvi is in between the UK and Canada and Otni is based in South Africa.
CM: When did you leave Zimbabwe and how often do you come back (if you do)?
SB: As mentioned earlier, Ruvi left Zimbabwe in 2007 and comes home every two years, while Otni left in 2009 and since moving to South Africa, visits Zimbabwe every few months.
CM: How did you start the project Shuta? What motivated you?
SB: WeRShuta, as we like to be called, started off on Facebook and then branded off into YouTube a few months later in 2015. At first it was very difficult to gain a following as Zimbabweans tend to prefer Facebook to YouTube for entertainment. However, with time we built a fan base. What motivated us was our love for YouTube and seeing so many Nigerians and Ghanaians but no Zimbabweans out there.
CM: How much of resources does it take to produce the skits? Who produces them (basically tell me what the production process entails)?
SB: Production starts with a script. We usually jot down different ideas and then pick our favourite one then formulate a script based on that idea. We have one professional camera for recording [Canon] and we edit on our computers. We record ourselves usually, and all the editing is done by us as well. We bought the camera with our own funds and even the editing applications. It takes about a week for a video to be produced from the script writing up to the final product.
CM: Are you realising any proceeds from your work so far?
SB: Yes we are. YouTube pays us a certain amount per month, depending on our activity that month. So if we have a video that does really well, it usually brings in more traffic and that is how they tally up the amount to be deposited into our account. We also get a small amount of income here and there from different Zimbabweans who want to advertise through us.
CM: Where do you envision taking your project?
SB: Initially it started as just a fun project. However, our vision for the future is to get it to a stage where we have over 100 000 subscribers and start an online talk show dedicated to the people of Zimbabwe. One that’s fun and light, similar to The Ellen Show.
CM: Any plans to perform in Zimbabwe?
SB: We have considered coming to Zimbabwe together, but more for a meet and greet session in the streets of Harare rather than an actual show. We would love to meet our “Shutarians” and get more ideas from them on what we can do to improve our work.
CM: Any plans to move back to Zimbabwe?
SB: Moving back to Zimbabwe should always be every Zimbabwean’s future endeavour and so to answer your question, yes. Zimbabwe is home and it would be great to provide our form of entertainment on home ground. However, it may not happen soon.
CM: From your skits, I get a sense that you are proud Zimbabweans that have a need to connect with home. Do you miss Zimbabwe?
SB: Of course we miss Zimbabwe! It’s the best place on earth — great weather, friendly people and good food. We wouldn’t be who we are without our background and so we are very proud to represent our great nation!
CM: I see you as very good actors. Have you guys taken any acting courses or is it just in-born talent?
SB: LOL! We never took any acting lessons. We just vibe off each other and make each other feel comfortable. Our recording sessions are usually filled with laughter because we actually think we are so funny LOL, and perhaps that’s what comes off as good acting on screen.
CM: Anything else that you would love readers to know?
SB: Even though we are now in separate countries, we shall still be creating content to post on our page.