By Fred Zindi
I met 29-year-old Clive Malunga for the first time on December 1, 1989 during an Artistes Against Aids campaign concert held at Harare Gardens.
The concert, which I had organised with sponsorship from UNESCO, featured artistes such as Thomas Mapfumo, Oliver Mtukudzi, James Chimombe, Frontline Kids, Transit Crew and two more groups. It was during the concert that Clive approached me and said: “I also want to be on stage. I am a singer.”
I asked him where his band was, but he did not have any. He was, however, very determined to go on stage and nothing would stop him.
I succumbed to his determination and I told him to go on just after Mapfumo had finished his set.
He sang and danced to the sound of background music and the crowd enjoyed his courageous act.
After the concert, I began to pay the groups that had participated a thousand dollars each. Clive then walked in and also wanted a thousand dollars.
I argued with him saying that he did not have a band and was only on stage for less than 10 minutes. He would not listen to that argument.
He also argued back and said: “Thomas Mapfumo had 12 people on stage. Oliver Mtukudzi had eight and Frontline Kids were only six. So how come every group got a thousand dollars despite their different sizes?”
I told him that they had agreed to that fee prior to their performances, but he had approached me while the concert was already underway. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I paid him the one thousand dollars.
I must say that I secretly admired the determination and courage of this guy and thought to myself that if the music industry was made up of more people like him, it would definitely be more organised and would go a long way in improving its image.
I later learned that Clive, although he looked so young, was an ex-Zanla freedom fighter and had been in the bush fighting the guerilla war. I began to understand him.
In 1992, Clive had established his own music hub which he called Jenaguru Arts Centre located at Number 18160 Belvedere Road, Harare, in order to promote and assist other musicians. (I understand the centre recently got into trouble regarding its establishment with the City of Harare).
He went further to establish the annual Jenaguru Music Festival which was first held at Harare Gardens and then moved the following year to Gwanzura Stadium and featured artistes such as Mapfumo, Mtukudzi, Bhundu Boys, Man Soul Jah, Isaac Chirwa and many more.
The last Jenaguru Music Festival was staged at the National Sports Stadium in 2005.
Malunga said: “We invited musical groups from the United States, Egypt, Mozambique, Zambia, Malawi and South Africa.
“Jenaguru Arts Centre started doing cultural exchange programmes in Japan in 2002. We were also invited to perform in South Korea on a music school cultural exchange programme.”
Jenaguru’s patron was the late politician, Dr Nathan Shamuyarira. In 1995 at Gwanzura Stadium, Dr Shamhuyarira and his wife came to the Jenaguru Music Festival to honour Mapfumo with a 21-carat gold medal.
It was electric, the fans were on fire.
In 1997, Clive came into prominence when he made the hit song Nesango.
The video of Nesango became one of the best visual music productions in the country.
The video relives some liberation war scenes, with helicopters descending on guerillas, horses chasing after suspected guerillas, military vehicles on patrol and pungwes (overnight vigils) with villagers.
Up to now the video is still regarded as one of the best visual productions from yesteryear musicians.
It came with a unique flair. It exuded creativity and automatically became the video of the year on ZTV in 1997.
I call Clive “feisty’’ for a good reason. From 1997 to 2019 the idea of Nesango never left him. In 2019, he embarked on an animated film of Nesango.
This is what he had to say: “We have created the animation of Nesango, with the same storyline, although this time around there is a little bit of a twist of the plot.
“Remember the music video did not show much brutality done by whites, but it will be clear in the animation and film,” he said.
The animation will be launched by the Zimbabwe Film and Television School for Southern Africa (ZIFTESSA) in conjunction with ZBC. With Zimbabwe Independence Day celebrations upon us, the timing is perfect.
Malunga said people should be proud to tell their own stories, rather than having foreign producers and foreign directors doing so.
“The animation is very colourful and I am happy to have worked and engaged a strong team that understands the concept of animation,” said Malunga.
He said the voice-over was done by Samuel Samanyanga, illustration by Watson Mukutirwa, while colouring and editing was done by Oscar Luwalwe and Joseph Muserere.
I have had the opportunity to watch the animated film and I must say that I was quite impressed by this powerful story.
It gives one a clearer understanding of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle from colonial rule.
The 60-year-old musician said the film will be shot in various locations around Zimbabwe.
In an interview with Malunga, he reported that the project which started in January 2019 was done with the assistance of the late Commissioner of Prisons and Correctional Services, Paradzayi Zimondi, Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga and Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, General Phillip Valerio Sibanda, who sent Clive to Senator Monica Mutsvangwa in the ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services for clearance.
JOC (Joint Operational Command) agreed to provide any equipment needed for the film-shoot but will not provide fees for extras, transport, food and accommodation. Malunga is currently outsourcing for these from well-wishers.
Malunga was born on November 25, 1960 at Valley Farm, also known as Kingsdale Farm, some 5km from the town of Norton.
He attended St Eric’s Primary School in Norton. Both his late mother and father were domestic workers at Kingsdale Farm.
Malunga worked very hard to run away from the environment in which he grew up by trying to be a soccer player, but later settled for music as a career.
He joined the music industry in 1985, and released a vinyl single called Marimba Jive. As he put it, this was only an ice-breaker but it took him nowhere.
The lack of significant sales from this single did not put him off.
Showing courage and determination, he developed a network of friends and partners both within and outside government until he hit gold with his single and video Nesango.
Among his network of friends, he came across a diplomat from Japan who understood his story and situation.
Malunga describes his journey as follows: “This great woman managed to carry us through our trials and tribulations. Jenaguru Arts Centre did a lot of great work through this woman called Tomoko Takahashi. I was discovered by a foreigner when my fellow comrades were supposed to respond to my request. This is not right.”
“As Jenaguru Arts Centre, we managed to buy tombstones for James Chimombe, Solomon Skuza, Tobias Areketa, Susan Mapfumo, Leonard ‘Pickett’ Chiyangwa, Charles Mapika and Jordan Chataika. We are currently organising two more tombstones for Biggie Tembo and Tinei Chikupo. I enjoy working with youngsters; grooming them and seeing them grow. We pay school fees for all kids who qualify to join Jenaguru Music and Dance Group. We provide nearly all the requirements. I just enjoy helping the less privileged. We have been sourcing for donations for schools in Zimbabwe, as well as orphanages, churches and the disabled. The music industry is today awash with so many musicians with great talent. They all want to fly, but it takes a while to get there.
“My biggest challenge has been my character. I am short-tempered — ready to exchange blows at the slightest provocation. I grew up in a difficult situation and I wanted to run away from poverty, but when people realised that I was aiming for greater things, they stood in my way. I was young at that time, full of energy and I saw it fit to just get rid of anyone who stood in my way. I never wanted to go back to farm life as it was a nightmare for me.
“Now I am 60 years old, for the sake of reflection, I also take this opportunity to apologise to all those I disappointed. We make mistakes as we grow, but we must learn from mistakes, what is supposed to be good and that which has to be condemned.”
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