Resurrection: Leonard Zhakata hogs limelight on Radio Zim 2014

DHONZA MAKOMBORERO won song of the year at the Zimas and scooped the top position Coca-Cola Radio Zimbabwe Top 50 last year.

Zhakata has sprinted back to the summit of local pop music glory quite possibly buoyed by support and more crucially, endorsement of the prophet. It is common cause that the prophet is feverishly adored by thousands of his followers.

The conversion of Zhakata, a gifted singer songwriter with a glittering critically and commercially lauded music career, was a coup de grace, not in terms of his own ministry, but in terms of Zhakata’s revival as an artist to reckon with.

Leonard Zhakata is famous for social commentary in songs such as Mugove and Nzombe huru. He grabbed attention with his Michael Jacksonsque dress code and hats. The music he makes kwasa kwasa, but it was always his lyrics that wooed hearts.

I dare say that Tendai “Sasa” Chidarikire’s Ndiringe may have been inspired by Zhakata’s Mugove. Both songs have the same motif: They are prayers to God to grant them their own piece of the proverbial pie. Zhakata, however, suffered a lull in his fortunes for close to a decade.

Tocky-Vibes

Tocky-Vibes

He went “underground” while the late Tongai Moyo, Macheso, Sulumani Chimbetu and Jah Prayzah hogged the limelight. Long story short, Zhakata has been resurrected, musically speaking.

“I know Christians played a major role in my success. Since I joined prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa’s church I have been invited to various other gospel functions in other denominations . . . I know most of those Christians voted for my songs although I am certain many of my traditional fans are behind my success,” he was quoted a few days ago in a local daily as saying.

Lessons learnt
 The church, especially the Pentecostal church led by charismatic leaders from Makandiwa to Walter Magaya (PHD) appears support celebrities.

Tocky Vibes is another one who is benefitting from “prophetic” patronage. Magaya has of late been giving him the church platform to present dancehall music and you can guess the results.

Imagine Tocky selling CDs at an over 40 000 strong church prayer gathering at the urging of the man of God? That is clout right there.

The relationship between prophets and celebrities is curious, but possibly a case of a symbiosis. Lesson to artists is go join a mega church if not for salvation then for the captive audiences and pastoral endorsement!

 Radio Zim is the station to employ if one must truly go national. Over a million-plus listeners tune in everyday.

Zimbabwe All Media Products Survey (Zamps) results published by the Zimbabwe Advertising Research Foundation indicate that Radio Zimbabwe maintains pole position in radio listenership in Zimbabwe with a 40% market share. Power FM  trails at 24%. National FM does well with a listenership of 15% of the population.

 Sometimes I think the so-called urban radio stations are over rated in terms of their importance in the greater scheme of things.

Zhakata, for grabbing the top spot received about $2 000! Now what do artists get from the chart shows on the other stations? Zero is the word.

 Oh, and artistes may well be advised to buy a copy of Zamps for $50 from Zarf. This will help their managers, if they have them, to fine tune their marketing strategies in terms of audiences.

Zamps has its critics but it is useful in terms of data for planning purposes for anyone in the media and entertainment industries. What else is there?

ZBC/TV call to producers
Recently, there have been calls by the national broadcasters to independent producers to submit concepts for possible consideration.

I hope local production houses have heeded the call to rush to ZBC Montrose and see the folk responsible for television.

Concepts for television are always required especially if they can garner audiences and therefore advertising support. Think America’s Got Talent, Idols, game shows, reality television such as Big Brother Africa. Open season therefore to all who follow this column who are in the business!

Bring them on: Tourism expects a surge
I have asked in the past about the real reason millions flock to Paris annually. There are no zebras there except in the zoos.

They go there because of the ambience, the culture, the cafés, the fashion, Eiffel Tower and the romanticised idea of France as the place of leisure and romance.

That is the brand. What is brand Zimbabwe? We must parlay our culture and arts. Animals are being poached. When they are all gone what remains?

Zimbabwe is set to experience a boom in tourism. Tourism minister Walter Mzembi has been patted for his fervent push for growth in the sector. Possibly he is one of the best in his clique.

He is young and ambitious. He is targeting five million visitors per annum by 2020. Last year the number of foreign visitors surged to two million from 1,8 million the previous year.

New York Times, a renowned United States paper included Zimbabwe in the top 52 destinations to visit this year. Zimbabwe ranked number 14 ahead of even South Africa!

According to a report on foreign media service Mzembi said: “I am posting a $5 billion tourism economy by 2020. I know that the national budget is $4,1 billion and many people may dismiss me as being naïve to imagine that the tourism sector alone can command $5 billion by 2020 . . . but it can be done.”

According to the New York Times: “This country’s beauty and bounty have been overshadowed by political unrest and economic collapse over the last few decades, but today, the government is finally stable, the overinflated Zimbabwean dollar is gone, and prices are low.”

Parting shot
The challenge I throw to this government and every other player is to explore the synergy between arts, culture and tourism.

Personally I am now inclined to advocate the amalgamation of the tourism, arts and culture ministries. It makes a lot of sense. The two need each other badly. When visitors come over it can’t be just about lions and rhinos.

Poachers will eventually wipe out the animals. Of course artists will remain. Visitors must experience culture, music, film, theatre, arts and crafts and dances too as happened in a small measure at the Jameson Victoria Falls Carnival at 2014 end. They must taste Brand Zimbabwe.

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