By Takemore Mazuruse
UK-based gospel musician Jane Doka is not a new name in the mainstream; many know her for her exploits in the music industry, thanks to her consistency and quality productions.
A blessed and witty composer, the multi-award winning Doka has won the hearts of many a music lover with her soulful music that makes you fall in love with her art as soon as you set ear to it.
Her most recent production titled Gore Remakomborero is a daring declaration of faith amidst these trying times with many relating to its message of hope.
The song, which has been topping charts on various radio stations, is part of her new music concept titled The Faith Project through which she is taking music lovers on a journey of faith amidst the life challenges.
Few, however, know the philanthropic side of the affable musician through her Jane Doka Foundation that she is in the process of setting up but which has already done a lot of work around Zimbabwe.
The Jane Doka Foundation has provided monthly food hampers to the less privileged in Harare, Domboshawa, Crowhill, rural Rusape, Mhondoro and Chitungwiza since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in Zimbabwe last year. Doka said they will be spreading their tentacles to more areas in Zimbabwe as they engage more people to work with.
“The foundation has been a timely help to many disadvantaged communities and families since the Covid-19 situation started last year, but we hope to reach out to more areas. It’s a matter of having people who are available and willing to do the work because the focal person we are working with in work done so far is very trustworthy in identifying the needy in different places.
“We are going all out with this work because I do believe I am a Christian before I am a gospel musician and it’s befitting that I take care of the less privileged. The Bible says true religion is taking care of the widows and orphans.
“The Jane Doka Foundation is just something that is in my heart especially in the times we are in. As a musician, I want to use that little influence and platform that God has given me to reach out and inspire more people who can even support the less privileged and this cause. I am using not just my gift of singing, but the room created by my gift to reach out to more and more people. It’s all about ministry, not so much about myself but what God wants us to do,” Doka said.
The charitable musician, who is currently studying for a PhD in International Education and Development with the Open University, said the foundation was a more practical way of ministry for her having experienced the challenges that the less privileged face when growing up.
“Apart from being on stage, the foundation allows me to show the love of Christ in practical ways. I am not just singing about God, but living out what God desires us to do.
“What pushed me to start this is really the heart of God, love for people, love for the underprivileged having seen with my own eyes the kind of suffering that people go through right from growing up. I didn’t have it really good, but there were some people who were worse off and you could see especially with orphans what they future would be,” she said.
While the foundation has become more visible in the past two years given the Covid-19-related challenges, Doka said she has always had a passion to serve and help the needy.
“I have always had a keen interest in reaching out to the less privileged. We started this initiative a very long time ago with my husband.
“When I met him, he was already involved in some project of supporting a charity in Zimbabwe and I joined him donating my music to the orphanages for sale, donating in cash or to a family struggling in Zimbabwe. The spirit of giving has always been there, but the foundation has helped pronounce it,” she said.
The Gore Remakomborero singer also told Standard Style that the work of the foundation had become more systematic.
“Our work became more systematic last year when the pandemic started. I fell sick early in the year and l almost lost my life and with that experience I asked myself: Who have I really impacted beyond the stage?
“It then became a challenge and the year 2020 really accelerated things especially when we engaged some local vision helpers in Zimbabwe to work with,” she said.
While they are planning on providing a holistic approach to the needs of the less privileged, Doka said they are currently focusing on the emergency needs of their beneficiaries.
“At the moment, we are focusing on meeting the emergency needs and then move to create opportunities for beneficiaries to sustain themselves.
“We want to introduce livelihood projects, create employment as well as support underprivileged women and orphans, towards a more sustainable life particularly assisting them with skills on how to do some work,” she said.
While a lot of lives have been touched and changed with the work of the foundation, Doka said she has even greater plans.
“The scope of the foundation is quite large. We want to start a school for underprivileged people especially girls who fall out of school through marriage and pregnancies. We also have an idea of a school for people with learning disabilities. Some of these communities are forgotten on development issues,” she said.
“The foundation has plans to reach as many people as possible, but the focus so far has been on widows and orphans. At first it was a mix of really underprivileged families, then we started specialising on widows because you see how difficult the life of a widow is without the requisite support.
“We have also partnered with a foster parent who is running a school for orphans in Domboshava and we are doing our best to support her mostly on the education element she is infusing. Education is important, children must be able to read and write and have some life skill. So far we have availed groceries and we are hoping to get more support for the centre,” she said.
Doka said she always gets encouragement from the feedback and testimonies from beneficiaries.
“The impact has been great and overwhelming. Pictures and videos sent and some of the things you hear really humble and make you feel the goodness of the Lord. It’s humbling and overwhelming to be an answer to someone’s prayer.
“I break down and cry each time I hear their testimonies. To them it means a lot even when we think it’s a small intervention especially the elderly women in rural areas. The level of gratitude demonstrates the impact of our humble efforts in service to others,” she said.
Doka is also in the process of releasing two more songs this year and said her music and charity work are all part of her broader calling and ministry.
“This year we will release two more songs, namely Munochengeta and Because God Said It and it’s a continuation of the faith project journey where we want our listeners to believe God for solutions.
“The music journey has been an interesting journey. I have no regrets, I have learnt something from it and in a way benefited. This year has been great with the success of Gore Remakomborero and having the song and how it was accepted has been humbling and it brings joy to my heart. I have been on this journey for a long time,” she said.
With the new compositions under the faith project, Doka said she is hoping to inspire and give hope.
“With Gore Remakomborero we are taking people on a journey of faith, it’s a declaration song, while Munochengeta is a prayer of faith that God protects us and looks after us; more so in these difficult times. Only God can protect us, provide for our families, heal us and make sure we have food on the table. Not that we would have done anything to deserve such, but Him in His mercy supplying our needs according to His riches in Christ,” she said.
Doka also bemoaned the Covid-19 pandemic, but called for compliance, love and support for each other highlighting the situation will change for the better.
“I haven’t contracted Covid-19, but it has affected me in various ways. Friends and family have been infected and affected; some have passed on and others have lost loved ones. It has also affected my music and my studies. Indeed it has been terrible, but we must walk by faith and not by sight. There is nothing good to the eye, but God will keep us in perfect peace as long our minds are focused on Him. I pray for comfort to those that have lost loved ones. Let’s follow regulations, sanitise, mask up, social-distance and avoid gatherings,” she said.
Doka said it is imperative that whatever one does, they must desire to be a difference.
“Apart from the charity work in Zimbabwe, in the UK we set up a charity that seeks to reintegrate black and ethnic minorities who have been caught up in the UK criminal justice system to integrate them into the community because it is always very hard for offenders, more so youth of colour and especially Africans, to integrate.
“We, therefore, felt the need to step up this initiative. My husband has been involved in such work for a very long time and it has been on his heart and on my heart to support them on getting accommodation and the basic needs to reintegrate. We also assist them in getting accommodation, things to do, music recording among others. It’s in its infancy, but it’s taking shape,” she said.
The focal person for the Jane Doka Foundation, Pastor Barbra Fasenda Chivaura, shared some moving accounts of how the musician through her charitable work has touched lives in Zimbabwe.
“It takes a lot of character and a good heart for a person living away from the realities of home to spare a thought for the less privileged.
“As a person who has first-hand experience of the foundation’s impact and how it is changing lives, I just want to thank Jane and Michael Doka for the work they are doing. Only God can reward such selflessness,” she said.
Since officially stepping into her music passion in 2008, Jane has produced four albums, one live DVD recording and two singles. She has also hosted numerous successful gospel shows in the UK and in Zimbabwe. Internationally, she has performed on various stages alongside international gospel musicians such as Nathaniel Bassey, Muyiwa and Riversongz, Sonnie Badu and saxophonist Femi Osinaike.
Locally, she has also performed alongside esteemed gospel musicians who include gospel music legend Charles Charamba, Takesure Zamar, Janet Manyowa, Fungisai Zvakavapano-Mashavave and Sabastian Magacha.
Alongside her growing music ministry, Jane Doka is an assistant pastor at her local church, passionately serving in the praise and worship team, women’s department, youth department and preaching ministry.
She is currently studying towards a PhD in International Education and Development aimed at improving the lives of marginalised girls in low-income countries.
She is married to Michael Doka and together they have two children.