OUR Senior Leisure Reporter Prince Mushawevato last week caught up with veteran promoter Josphat “Big Josh” Hozheri following the recent closure of another one of his leisure joints. Below are excerpts from their chat.
Q: In the last five years, you have moved from Jazz 105 to Pamuzinda Fire & Ice then Time & Jazz Café. Once again you are on the move. What exactly is happening?
A: There are things happening behind the scenes, most of which are out of my control. For instance, at Jazz 105 I had stayed at the place for over 13 years but I was pushed out due to some misunderstandings that were caused by the tier leasing system that was in place. At Pamuzinda there was a huge inferno that destroyed the place and I was not insured so continuity after the disaster was impossible. I then decided to move into the CBD, Time & Jazz Café, where again the adverse interest of commerce and arts took place. The owners say they now want their place back.
Q: There are fears this latest move could mark the end of Big Josh in showbiz, what is your take?
A: Showbiz, music is my passion. I cannot run away from myself. I don’t think I can find anything else I know better than showbiz. I cannot be a pastor overnight but I will continue being an arts promoter and working with artistes. I call myself an ‘Academy Promoter’ because I enjoy nurturing talent.
Q: Have you identified a new spot to operate from?
A: Experiences I have gone through over the years have made me much wiser. I’m no longer going into a place where the landlord and I are into the same kind of business. Never! There are bound to be conflicts of interest. I am looking for a place in the CBD with a long term lease or better still, develop my own place. Negotiations are ongoing and we will soon be announcing our new base.
Q: Besides showbiz, do you have any other ventures that you are involved in?
A: I have been farming for the past 10 years after benefitting from the Land Reform Programme. Showbiz made me popular but I also run other businesses. I have shops in Glen View and in Chivhu where I come from.
Q: What do you focus on in farming?
A: I’m into poultry with a production of at least 10 000 birds every six weeks. I also distribute stock feed for Country Feeds as one of their agents but above all, I’m a dealer in town. I connect people thanks to showbiz that has made me cosmopolitan.
Q: Do you think showbiz has been fair to you?
A: At some point the sector was rewarding but the economic turmoil that took place in Zimbabwe, disposable income being eroded, etcetera, affected us big time. But I’m quite hopeful of the future. I’m happy with the new political dispensation that is saying Zimbabwe is open for business. This is certainly leading us back to our ticking ways. I smile because I worked with artistes that were coming from a zero background but are now household names, the likes of Jah Prayzah, Suluman Chimbetu, Victor Kunonga, to mention but a few. I have also held successful festivals with the thrust of pushing the Zimbabwean brand. I did the Winter Jazz festival for 12 consecutive years when I was at Jazz 105 and so many great names came from this initiative, the likes of Victor Kunonga, Alexio Kawara and Jababvu Drive. I have also hosted a number of international artistes in the mould of Ringo, Tsepo Tshola and Jimmy Dludlu. My biggest flop was at the City Sports Centre — one of the Winter Jazz Festivals. It was a big blow in all aspects.
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