By Nduduzo Tshuma
LET’S preach unity,
the gospel of peace,
of humorous, of tranquillity,
oh yeah oh yeah!. . .
These are the words contained in one of the most popular songs played on national television and radio in the run-up to Zimbabwe’s national holidays, particularly the Independence, Heroes’ and Unity days.
Despite the song being so popular that many in Zimbabwe identify with it, the appeal achieved by this song has not yielded any financial benefits to the composers and singers, Black Umfolosi.
Tomeck Dube, director of the world-travelled group, revealed this at an interactive meeting between representatives of media organisations and Information, Media and Broadcasting Services minister Jonathan Moyo in Bulawayo on Thursday.
Dube said Black Umfolosi had in the past represented the country at international events in Spain and Canada, but the government only paid half of their travel expenses and the group had never been honoured by the State.
“I think we are the most travelled group in Zimbabwe,” Dube said. “I have four passports stamped with visas to show how much we have travelled around the world. Our song, Unity, is played by the national broadcaster in the run-up to important national holidays.
“We composed that song to celebrate unity in the country and we are not complaining that it is being played, but we are not getting any royalties for the song. We are happy to have composed such a song, but it is only fair that we get something.
“When we ask, we are told that it (the song) is played as a jingle and not as a song hence there are no royalties.”
Dube said it was odd that the government had never bothered to recognise the group’s efforts despite promoting tourism in the country.
“Some musicians from Harare have been honoured for their contributions and some have even been given honorary degrees and diplomatic passports. We have veteran musicians like the Cool Crooners who started singing way before independence, but they have never received anything in their honour,” Dube said.
Moyo said he was in the same spirit with the group and would not comment much on the issue as he shared Dube’s thoughts.
Political analyst Godwin Phiri said artistes from Matabeleland were let down, mostly by politicians from the region.
“It is not only about arts, but sport,” Phiri said.
“You realise that politicians from other areas take a keen interest in what artistes are doing and take an active part in such programmes.
“Politicians from Matabeleland should also take an interest in the activities of local artistes.” – Southern Eye.