By Moses Mugugunyeki
Zimbabwe’s deepening economic crisis has seen an exodus of people seeking greener pastures with most heading to South Africa where they are doing menial jobs despite their abilities and skills.
Over the years, thousands of people have joined the “Great Trek” south of the Limpopo due to bleak job prospects and a dying economy that has killed their dreams.
Talent and brains have gone down the drain as many people are compelled to do menial jobs because there are limited opportunities in foreign soils.
Artistes just like other professionals are part of millions of Zimbabwean economic refugees in South Africa seeking survival. Some have been in that country for the better part of their adulthood with the hope of pursuing their careers, but it has comes to nought due to restricted spaces.
“It is not like you are home. The environment is different and does not allow us to pursue our dreams as artistes,” said Rangarirai “Blackhorse” Mahachi, an Afro-fusion musician based in Boksburg.
Blackhorse, who did a collaboration with Sound of Motherland frontman Progress Chipfumo two years ago, said a handful of fortunate Zimbabwean musicians were getting opportunities in South Africa.
“Very few are performing in clubs and other small places in South Africa, but the rest have been frustrated and are now doing other things,” he said.
Ekurhuleni Boksburg Hotel on the periphery of Johannesburg is one place that is providing space for both fresh musicians and those from the “old school”.
The hotel, which is owned by Zimbabwean Rodger Muzawazi, has turned out to be the preferred rendezvous for music followers, mainly Zimbabweans.
“The idea is to create space for upcoming musicians so that they get recognition. We have the platform for them to perform, the PA system, accommodation and food for those who would want to showcase their talent,” Muzawazi told this publication recently in South Africa.
He said he understands the plight of Zimbabwean musicians both in South Africa and Zimbabwe.
“We really understand the frustrations the musicians here and in Zimbabwe go through as they try to grow their brands. We are supporting them and assisting in the most possible way,” Muzawazi said.
Ekurhuleni Boksburg Hotel, formerly Transvaal Hotel has in the past hosted top Zimbabwean acts, including Alick Macheso, Sulumani Chimbetu, Jah Prayzah, Simon Mutambi and recently Thomas Mapfumo. On November 29, the hotel will host Selmor Mtukudzi with supporting acts Nox Guni, Dino Mudondo, T Mula, Paddy Watts, DJ Alex and DJ Platinum.
The following day sungura musician Russel Chigora and Extra Kings will launch his album Wamenya Wega, supported by Gonyeti, Sugar Sugar, Livet Macheka, Amos Tekwani, Aleck Dekete, Paul Mugwisi, Sydney Chitoro, as well as Arise and Shine.
Munya Gomana Makina, Farai Chida, Brandon Busakwe and Ranga Blackhorse will be part of Chigora’s supporting acts.
On December 14, the hotel hosts mbira outfit Mbira Dzenharira, who will be supported by Dino Mudondo, Davida Chimombe and Willom Tight.
Muzawazi said the hotel was going through transformation into a modern facility.
“We are sprucing up the facility to meet modern standards. Work is in progress and we are sure we will get there,” Muzawazi said.
Another Zimbabwean Afro-jazz artiste based in South Africa Darlington “Mhofela” Tanganyika expressed gratitude to Muzawazi.
“Mr Muzawazi is doing a sterling job providing us with space to showcase our talents,” Mhofela said.