In November 2005, gospel music lovers waved goodbye to the popular Nguva Yakwana gospel celebrations that had become a favourite for many. This was possibly triggered by the departure of Ivy Kombo-Kasi and her husband Admire, who left for the United Kingdom resulting in the annual gospel fête disappearing from the music calendar. This year, the Handidzokere Shure hitmaker returned back home and announced that the big event is back and will be held by year end. Kombo-Kasi added that despite the economic challenges currently being experienced in the country, nothing will stop the hosting of the popular concert. Standard Style reporter Jairos Saunyama (JS) caught up with Kombo-Kasi (IK) from her base in the UK, where she revealed her plans to revive the annual event. Below are excerpts from the interview.
JS: Upon return to Zimbabwe recently after more than a decade, you spoke of reviving Nguva Yakwana Celebrations, do you think the event will be as big as before?
IK: Yes, the event will certainly have great memories. It was demanded by the people. We know what God will do. People know they would come and get their healing in many areas of life — all through praising and worshipping the Lord.
JS: The gospel fête used to attract heavyweights from the neighbouring South Africa, for example, the late Vuyo Mokoena, Buhle, the late Lundi Tymara and Thembinkosi. Are we going to see some musicians from that side coming to Zimbabwe?
IK: Oh yes. Buhle and Zodwa already confirmed their enthusiasm. There are many still requesting to be part of the event. Some had no opportunity to do so in the past Nguva Yakwana Celebrations, they want to come now.
JS: Zimbabwe is experiencing an economic meltdown that has seen a number of gospel musicians taking the back seat in holding live shows, what makes you think that you will pull it and attract a big crowd during the celebrations?
IK: At least Nguva Yakwana brings us together, so we draw strength from the Lord and encourage each other as a nation. It is a place of harmony without agitation. It is worth everyone being there regardless of opinions. One such a day before the Lord can compensate for thousands of them spent otherwise.
JS: Are we going to see another collaboration with Buhle or Zodwa when they come?
IK: Certainly, there is powerful work in the background.
JS: You went and studied law, was that your childhood dream? Are you now a practicing laywer in the UK?
IK: I always wanted to go to school. Well, things do happen at God’s time. My husband simply encouraged me and said it would help if we can speak the same language. I am now a legal researcher.
JS: You recently released a new album after being quiet for more than a decade, what is the response like especially back home?
IK: Wow, you know people back home are typical. They are a loving lot. They are God-fearing. They lift the name of the Lord. I was so spoilt in their love.
The newspapers, radio and TV stations are manned by professionals who appreciate good stuff. Their acceptance of good work is an encouragement. Social media has been great. The video went viral on Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp and Twitter. I love Zimbabwe. We had time to cry together with some fans on radio when they heard my voice and that I am alive and ready for big things. On the streets of Harare, wow, it was that closeness, which one may not think still exists. People sang my songs like Handizokere Shure, Wawana Jesu and Mufudzi Wangu. I pray that the day comes when all will be good in the Stone House Zimbabwe. I saw everyone working hard for their families. You know the Zimbabwean approach.
JS: When are you coming back for good?
IK: I am busy coming back for good. I am Zimbabwean. I am looking to engage with business and other sectors. I am available for home. The church in Zimbabwe needs us and we need them. If there is any little we can do in our beloved Stone House, that is Zimbabwe, we are willing (to come back for good).
JS: And the ministry? How many branches do you have now?
IK: We have four in the UK. Back home in Zimbabwe we have assemblies countrywide. In South Africa we have a branch led by Mawara Tonde, Botswana led by Leona Chibaya and Trinidad & Tobago led by Minister Ian Wilson. We also have branches in Kenya and Canada.
JS: What is your comment on the state of gospel music in the country?
IK: I am grateful to the genuine ones both new and established who have kept the population encouraged and continue to shape people’s conscience in line with God’s will. I am even more grateful to the original singers who never quit.