BY WINSTONE ANTONIO
AWARD-WINNING Zimbabwean musician and actress Edith “WeUtonga” Katiji is basking in the glory of becoming the first black woman to be appointed to the International Federation of Musicians (FIM), an international organisation that stands to protect the rights of musicians.
WeUtonga, who is the Zimbabwe Musicians Union (Zimu) founding president, was appointed to the top post at the recently ended 22nd FIM congress held in France.
The talented artiste is one of FIM’s five vice-presidents that include Beat Santchi (Switzerland), Anders Laursen (Denmark), Ray Hair (United States of America) and Horace Trubridge (United Kingdom).
In an interview with Standard Style, the elated Weutonga said as an academic it was her hope to see FIM create a repository of information on global music trends, policies and histories.
“It is my hope that through this appointment, Africa will shine, and the governments of our African nations put more effort on promoting policies that promote the arts where music will benefit,” she said.
“I hope to initiate and follow up on what my predecessors had initiated regarding women in leadership, equity and fair trade. I also hope to see more exchange between established unions and those setting up to enable capacity building.”
FIM general secretary Benoît Machuel said: “The International Federation of Musicians is proud to welcome Edith Katiji as one of its five vice-presidents. Ms Katiji brings her knowledge of the Zimbabwean and African music sectors as well as her experience as a respected music performer.
“We are looking forward to working with her within the FIM presidium and executive committee, in the interest of professional musicians in Africa and beyond.”
WeUtonga has been the president of Zimu since its formation to stand for the rights of musicians.
With her passion for the music industry, WeUtonga has worked with a variety of stakeholders in pursuit of the best for musicians in Zimbabwe.
Currently based in the United Kingdom, WeUtonga holds a Master of Arts degree in Music in Development as well as a Bachelor of Science in Music Business, Musicology and Technology.
As a bass guitarist, she is one of the few female musicians who play mainstream music instruments, in addition to being a prolific vocalist.
Recently WeUtonga joined hands with international artistes from Sri Lanka, the UK and Zambia under the banner Collective Beats to spearhead the fight against malaria in Africa through music.
She said Results UK, an organisation that is working with artistes to amplifiy their youth leaders for change campaigns, helped them to meet for the project.
“When Collective Beats was conceptualised at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic to activate and mobilise global support to zero malaria during the annual World Malaria Day [April 25], there was no idea that we could pull off such a gripping song Win This Way campaigning for zero malaria,” she said.
“This song was recorded during the global Covid-19-induced lockdown using the technologies available to connect the musicians from Sri Lanka, to the United Kingdom, Zambia and Zimbabwe.”
WeUtonga said when an opportunity is born and seized wherever and whenever there is passion, talent and commitment, it blossoms.
“I phoned my friend Kevin Jenkins, a superb guitarist, singer, composer and techno wizard. I asked him if he could lead a handful of global musicians and give me a powerful song that would meld, blend and blow,” she said.
“Who would have thought that we could bring ngoma, mbira, ghatam (the earthen pot from South India), morsing (the Jewish harp) together with male and female voices from Africa, India, Spain and the UK?”
WeUtonga said the song Win This Way, also featured the remarkable talents of James Chamanazi from Zambia, adding his unique Kalindula/Pop creation, Kevin Jenkins, a British global synthesis musician, composer and producer, legendary and versatile Roshen, a Sri Lankan, multi-instrumentalist Christi Warner, a Namibian-born British R ‘n’ B singer, lyricist and poet who wrote the words for the song, Othnell Mangoma Moyo a Zimbabwean performing artiste, instrument builder and author, world music expert, but rooted in Africa and India, and Shatam Ghatam Giridhar Udupa, an Indian Ghatam, Morsing and Konnakol (the traditional art of using the voice to transform words into rhythmic percussive syllables) musician from India.