26 June 2015 – WHEN anyone thinks of Chitungwiza, or Chi-Town as it is affectionately known, its hard not to associate it with the rich Zim music talent that has come from the former dormitory town, 26km of Harare.
Like Hollywood in the US, which is known for its robust movie industry or Jamaica, which is known for churning out reggae musicians who have taken the genre to the world, there is no doubt that Zimbabwe’s growing town of Chitungwiza, has become synonymous with being the birthplace of sungura musicians, among other genres and music stars, such as contemporary reggae musician Jah Prayzah. the likes of the late John Chibadura, who actually earned the nickname ‘Mr Chitungwiza.”
Other notables, are Nicholas Zakaria, Mechanic Manyeruke, System Tazvida (late) Alick Macheso, Cephas Mashakada (late), Chinx Chingaira, Paul Mpofu (late), David Chiyangwa [Mr Bulk] (late), Cephas Karushanga (late), Hosea Chipanga all whom are the country’s music great musicians who have a strong attachment to Chitungwiza.
Though I may no claim to be an authority on the subject, but seek to provoke debate on the same. I can’t help but to wonder to ask myself , if is it a mere coincidence that a number of musicians hail from Chitungwiza, though at the same time II know Zimbabwe has produced a numbers of artists from different parts of the country. Is there is something about the city?
But Jah Prayzah acknowledges that the notion is worth a thought, but but. Cindy Munyavi, another rising star, submits that many artists actually hail from Harare, and no particular place commands a greater churn of artists.
The densely populated town has produced dozens of sungura musicians who have scaled the local music industry to dizzy heights putting the town on the map of Zimbabwe’s entertainment industry. Formed in 1978 from three townships namely Seke, Zengeza and St Marys, Chitungwiza gained full municipal status in 1981. According to the population census of 2002, Chitungwiza had a population of 321,782.
The town has become home to a host of local musicians in recent years. Chitungwiza is to sungura music industry what Hollywood is to the movie industry, and what Jamaica is to reggae music, they produce the best. No doubt! Big stars have emerged from this magical town, with.
Historically, the early musicians such as Edward Khanda, Safirio Madzikatire, and Isaac Musekiwa hailed from Mbare, Harare’s oldest residential suburb. It was places such as Mai Musodzi Hall which were the most popular venues for musical concerts because Mbare had a greater “native population.”
With Zimbabwe gaining independence in 1980 and rural to urban migration, places like Chitungwiza grew in population.
Harare music analyst Masimba Kuchera argues that the reason why most sungura musicians live in a place like Chitungwiza is because they would be trying to connect with their fans. “If you listen to the lyrics of most sungura musicians, it is mainly about the ordinary people, poverty and social injustices, a place like Chitungwiza is where most of these things happen,’ notes Kuchera.
Chitungwiza’s Aquatic Complex, has hosted many live musical shows in the past decade, coupled with emerging venues such as Makoni, Ziko and Chikwana Shopping centres which have provided musicians with many local venues for live shows.
This gives Chitungwiza an advantage to as there is no or little transport costs to go for a musical concert both musicians and the fans, unlike other popular venues in town where fans have incur the burden of transport costs.
Adds Kuchera:‘These are some of the issues that musicians, even fans consider and I think hence the reason why Chitungwiza has become a permanent home to our musicians.”
A local music fan, Munyaradzi Muguti who stays in Zengeza 4 mentioned that he does not have to go to town for a musical show because every weekend there will be more than two venues where musicians will be playing.
The King of Sungura, Alick Macheso is one prominent musician who cut his teeth musically in Chitungwiza when he joined Khiama Boys in the early 80s. When he left Khiama in 1998 to form his own Orchestra Mberikwazvo, taking the crown in the tightly contested Sungura battle, becoming one of the most successful musicians, financially and but still stays in the densely populated high density suburb.
Over the years, Macheso has argued that he enjoys living in the high density suburbs because he is a man of the people and wants to identify with his legion of fans.
Making Chitungwiza, the core breeding ground for Sungura musicians, among other genres. though other places such as Highfields, Mbare, Budiriro and Makokoba in Bulawayo have also contributed in shaping Zimbabwe’s local arts industry. – jivezimbabwe