By Style Reporter
While many Zimbabwean musicians are born with the talent to scale any heights, it is their character which has hampered progression and some have fizzled into oblivion as soon as they attain national acclaim.
Like American athlete Jeff Henderson says, it is important to keep your character ahead of your talent if you are to sustain your career, but many local musicians and celebrities have been found wanting because of bad behaviour and poor professional attributes.
Sungura godfather and Khiama Boys frontman Nicholas “Madzibaba” Zakaria, who has weathered the storm and is beginning to reap the rewards of his good character and approach to the music business, has called on fellow musicians and artistes to embrace professionalism and shun unruly behaviour so that they enjoy the fruits of their talent.
“Being talented is one thing, but having the character and professional pedigree to stay relevant is another,” Madzibaba told Standard Style.
“This is why I have tried to stay clear of unnecessary drama throughout my career. I also respect the fact that I am a musician that many look up to and I am investing more time in perfecting my art and producing good music.”
The revered guitarist, who is known as the Senior Lecturer because of his ability to nurture talent, said it is important for musicians to take their work as a business and be at their best behaviour if they are to stay relevant and attract good things like corporate endorsement deals.
He said his branding deal with multi-award winning public relations and advertising agency Esteem Communications had opened many doors for him and he is even more excited about the future.
“We engaged Esteem Communications in 2019 having realised the folly of going it alone in a dynamic industry that is awash with competition,” Madzibaba said.
“Having Esteem Communications on board has resulted in increased online presence and ambience for the Khiama Boys brand. We are very strategic in how we present ourselves and do our business and the results are coming fast.”
Zakaria, who only got his first music award in 2020 from the Zimbabwe Music Awards (Zima) before getting a second Best Sungura award from the same awards board this year, also got a Living Legends Lifetime Achievement award from the National Arts Merit Awards (Nama) this February.
Lately he has attracted a lot of interest from celebrated brands in the corporate world.
“Beyond producing music, it’s important that you devise a strategy on how to be seen and be heard, and we are happy that our professional approach is changing our fortunes,” he said.
“We produced many hits over the years, but our approach wasn’t at par with the demands of the industry. Sometimes we wouldn’t even enter our music for awards and it affected us a lot. In the past two years, we have bagged three awards and sealed various endorsement deals with upcoming and established players in the corporate world.”
He said while many corporates are keen on influence marketing through engaging celebrities, the majority have shunned this idea because of the bad behaviour and lack of professionalism that some musicians exhibit.
“As musicians and celebrities we are opinion leaders and we can play an important role in pushing products and services to the market, but the issue is that no business would want to associate with controversial characters,” Madzibaba said.
“The only way we can derive value from our music and other ventures like endorsement deals is through a professional approach to music, making sure we give value when engaged and practicing responsible behaviour at all times.”
In the recent past, Zakaria has worked with local fashion houses as well as humanitarian organisations that fight gender-based violence as a brand ambassador and influencer. He has also been endorsed by brands in the motoring industry, finance and agriculture as well the banking sector.
The respected musician also shared some plans for 2021 despite of the lockdown situation and called on his fans to expect a scorcher of an album.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has not been kind to the arts industry, but we want to thank God for keeping us. It’s unfortunate that many of our fellow musicians among other cherished Zimbabweans have succumbed to this virus,” he said.
“We, however, remain hopeful and we are putting together a monster of an album which we believe will entrench our position as the sungura outfit of choice.
“We also intend to capitalise on corporate events and we will scale up the Executive Sungura Nights idea which we initiated with the launch of our 2020 album at a local hotel.”
Zakaria, who has made some reasonable fortune from his music career, also shared on his plans to venture into farming at his Mvurwi plot.
“I am grateful to God for His blessings. Through music, I have been able to acquire a number of properties in Harare and Norton. I also own some stands and another 4 000 square metres, which I got from Chitungwiza Town Council towards the construction of a Nicholas Zakaria Arts Centre.
“I also intend to go into tobacco farming at my plot in Mvurwi. I want to spread that professional approach to farming as well. Resources must be put to good use so that when all is said and done we leave a lasting legacy,” he said.
Zakaria said he still has a lot to offer and is hoping to partner local brands in marketing his music through videos and other online streaming platforms.
“I still have a lot to offer and I am hoping to partners various local brands in pushing my music through good videos and other online platforms,” he said.
“It’s a time to adapt and I am inviting companies that want to work with us in producing good videos to engage us for brand placement partnerships. Besides the good golden oldies, we can still do good videos for the new music and ensure that it’s streamed online for better reach.”