THIS week I am going to dwell on an issue at the heart of many gospel artists in Zimbabwe; that of the declining attendance by music fans at live shows hosted by local ministers.
gospel music sermon with The Master
The topic was raised by none other than multiple award-winning gospel artist, Reverend Togarepi Chivaviro, of the Ebenezer fame in this column’s WhatsApp group that comprises top gospel musicians, upcoming gospel ministers, their fans and journalists.
I must also commend the maturity, commitment and uppermost desire to spread more than the gospel music genre being exhibited by the members in the social network group.
Chivaviro is also a pastor at Assemblies of Pentecostal Methodists and has partly earned local and international acclaim in gospel music by seeking to work and network with compatriots in the industry and Ebenezer, a collaborative project with top gospel artists — Pastor Charles Charamba, Pastor Haisa, Noel Zembe, Baba Mechanic Manyeruke and Kudzai Nyakudya among others — is testimony to that.
The South Africa-based singer went on to support another popular Zimbabwean gospel artist, Takesure Zamar-Ncube, by attending the latter’s live DVD recording, whose venue was advertised as Hope Restoration Ministries in Mzansi.
The Ebenezer hitmaker was hoping to join a host of Zimbabwean fans expected at the dvd recording “because Brother Takesure is now a big name back home and his music is getting popular in Mzanzi”.
Zamar-Ncube is now based across the Limpopo, having attracted the attention of South Africa’s most decorated gospel outfit Joyous Celebration choir, who invited him to be part of the ensemble, joining fellow countrymen Mkhululi Bhebhe and Eric Moyo.
In a response after the event, Chivaviro bared his soul on the poor crowds at shows by Zimbabwean gospel musicians.
He said had it been a secular show, the Zimbabwean crowd would have flocked tenfold to the event.
“On Sunday I attended Brother Takesure Zamar’s dvd recording ceremony and two major observations and lessons from here: That South Africans do invest a lot in preparation and presentation, the South African team behind the event was so organised,” Chivaviro said.
“Even here, Zimbabwean support for gospel is so low. I make it speculatively over 1 500 attended, the minimum ticket was R150 but three quarters of the audience was South African.
“Our Christian community is way bigger, but they don’t attend shows. I don’t know what has become of us, but its a cause for concern.”
Chivaviro then implored the media to interrogate the issue further and hear from the fans their reasons for not attending shows by local gospel artists and “where we may need to adjust or improve”.
Daniel Matambira: I don’t think Zimbabweans in South Africa did not want to attend, but I think you all know how it is to be living in a foreign land, particularly in Mzansi. People face a lot of trials and tribulations by not having much freedom of movement and fear top up the list. If the recording was done here in Zimbabwe, the attendance would have been better. I believe we have a good fan base of gospel music.
The Master: My input on the above concerns is that maybe most Zimbabweans in South Africa were not aware of Takesure Zamar’s DVD launch. While commendable efforts were made in social media platforms to highlight the event, the mainstream media could have also come in handy to publicise the launch. I tried without success to interview Zamar-Ncube on the launch and ended up doing my part by spreading the message through social media.
Daniel Matambira: And one other thing, secular shows are advertised way in time and everyone will have enough time to prepare in terms of budgeting and all logistics, to say the least.
Apostle Admire Zaya: Here, I have noticed that the time of the launch determines the crowds you harvest.
Bongi Sigogo: Good morning. Since the launch was in South Africa, maybe that’s why the majority were South Africans. But here in Zimbabwe, gospel concerts are not well-attended unless if it’s a foreign artist…we don’t seem to want to support our local gospel artistes.
Sehliselweyinkosi “Sehlie” Sibanda: Christians generally have not been outgoing. That could be the reason why gospel concerts are poorly attended. I have experienced situations where your local church members won’t be present at your concert, but they appreciate your music. A prophet is not honoured in his own land. Right?
Elder Lovemore Chamatowa: Luke 4:24 KJV and he said, “Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country”.
The discussion ended when Chivaviro posted a picture in which he was singing at a show at Harare Gardens in 2011.
“Those were the days when people would flock to gospel shows in huge numbers as well,” he reminisced.
While the picture certainly amused upcoming gospel artists like Esther Kanengoni and Mharidzo Hetisani as well as philothropist Aaron Hodza, it inspired them no doubt. The man has come a long way. I conclude by saying all things are possible with God. Let us attend shows by our gospel ministers.
You may contact the columnist, Albert Masaka on Email: email@example.com