By Fidelis Manyange
AN album which celebrates being Zimbabwean is in the offing.
Produced by the Zimbabwe Heritage Trust (ZHT) and featuring some of the country’s best — young and old — the 10-track album is an appreciation of what it means to be Zimbabwean.
The album focuses on the country’s rich heritage.
ZHT is an organisation which carries out various programmes aimed at instilling in people a sense of pride in being Zimbabwean arising from knowledge about the richness of the country’s culture and vast natural resources.
And it emphasises the need for citizens to unite and not allow former colonialists to regain a footing in the country.
The forthcoming album comprises songs in Ndebele, Kalanga, Ndau, Zezuru and English.
Some of the artistes featured in the project include gospel godfather, the prolific Mechanic Manyeruke, crooner Bob Nyabinde, Mwaengawenyu Njikizana, better known in the music circles as Sebede, and Memory Marimazhira.
Other musicians featured are songstress and mbira player Nancy Mutize; Emmanuel Thomas, former vocalist and lead guitarist of the Frontline Crew; veteran lead and acoustic guitarist Brian Nhanhanga; gospel diva Jeniffer Maneni; Papa Tongo; Willis Wataffi, former Africa Revenge guitarist and vocalist; keyboard specialist Jonathan Mugazi; and 21-year old drummer Simbarashe Muparidzi.
Work on the album is expected to be complete by the end of this month.
The album is being sound engineered by two veterans Jabulani Ndlovu and Wallace Muparutsa, both former Gramma Records employees.
The two veteran sound engineers have worked with some of the country’s top musicians who include Leonard Dembo, Paul Matavire and James Chimombe, to name a few.
The yet-to-be-named album will unleash to the public hitherto unknown talent.
One of the architects of the project, former broadcaster, producer and musician Dingumuzi Phuti, said the album touched on various issues of our culture.
Nyabinde, on the other hand, said music is an important cultural tool.
“It is an expansive project looking at various issues eroding our culture and the solutions. For example, on solutions, my song on the album focuses on the richness of our local foods and fruits which are found all over the country which include matamba, nhengeni, mazhanje nemimwe michero yese yesango,” said Nyabinde.
“Our forests are rich with trees and fruits which have got medicinal values but because the whiteman brainwashed us, we now just turn to pharmacies for treatment.”
Thomas’ song promotes and brings awareness on the richness and beauty of the country’s resort areas like the Victoria Falls, the Great Zimbabwe and the Khami Monument, among others, which we must be proud of, while Mutize touches on African family relationships.
“In the African family, there is nothing called ‘cousin’, we are just brothers and sisters. Nowadays we are creating rifts and distances within our families by calling each other cousin,” said Mutize.
Njikizana or Sebede, whose music is unique and a reminder of the Nigerian Afro-pop guru Fela Anikulapo Kuti, castigates people who bleach their skin and wear artificial hair instead of keeping their natural hair and skin.
“Our African skin contains more melanin which makes us black; this is for us to adapt to the climatic conditions of our continent (melanin is the pigment that gives human skin, hair and eyes their colour).
“By bleaching their skins, Africans have now exposed themselves to skin cancers. That’s the message I am driving home in the song,” said Sebede, well known for his signature tune ‘Izwa!’.
The album, currently undergoing the final stages of mixing and mastering, will be marketed under the Heritage music label.
The project will have more dialects and artistes in the next volumes.
Featuring artistes from different genres guarantees listeners various types of beats ranging from Afro-jazz, Afro-pop, Ndebele traditional mbube beat, mbira and many others.
The music project also gave young artistes an opportunity to collaborate with veteran musicians like Manyeruke and Nyabinde.
“The future of this project is centred on involving all artistes in the country. As they get invovled in this project, they will learn about the country’s heritage, how to safeguard it and pass the message to their kith and kin,” said Pritchard Zhou, CEO of ZHT.