The ever-changing entertainment landscape of Harare is never short of intrigue and fascination.
Revellers from the old school will fondly remember of their times at Job’s, Bretts, Archies, Liz, Sandros — and of course the ageless Tipperarry.
But the hands of time have not favoured these joints with eternity, and as new forms of music took over, it seemed like a new set of joints would come onto the scene.
Enter Jazz 105, Pamuzinda, Kumahuswa, Dandaro Inn – and of course the ageless Mereki.
Again, the hand of fate has dealt some of these joints terrible life-ending encounters. In short, Harare’s entertainment landscape is ever-changing, is ever-evolving.
When Pamuzinda, the home of old school music, changed management in 2010 that was to mark the death of one of the country’s liveliest open-air entertainment joints.
Scores of revellers who had fallen in love with the place – and its dose of old music school — never mind the ambience, free spirit, flowing booze, the slay queens, and of course, the braai, found themselves wandering around the capital, more like headless chicken.
Nearly a decade later, Pamuzinda has been re-born, though with a new identity. Enter GI — The Island of Joy. Opening its doors to the public on Saturday, GI is the brainchild of Graham and Irene Awudi, with the sole promise to bring back the good ol’ days of Pamuzinda, albeit at a different and better designed venue.
Situated along Simon Mazorodze Road, just after Zindoga shopping centre if one is travelling from the city centre, GI easily stands out as the blue-coloured, grass thatched monster of a place.
And a monster it is, for it houses a VIP executive lounge, an on-the-run liquor outlet (that would be your bottle store in ghetto lingo), two gazebos (one smoking and the other non), a pool centre, a kids’ play centre, a main stage for live acts (which also doubles as the DJ area) and yet another bar which, on top of the usual lagers, will offer a wide range of whiskeys and brandys.
“We have been planning and preparing this place for years now and I think we are ready for the public,” oozed Graham last week. “We are drawing from our experiences from Pamuzinda, thus we have perfected a lot of things. But that is not to say we will not be listening. We will use the first weeks of our opening to get feedback and comments, if we are to make this place the ultimate family destination. When we are happy with what we would have achieved, then we would officially open Island of Joy.”
The well-manicured lawns, the lively palm trees, the paved dancing area, the organised parking lots — all these are likely to make the place a favourite of many, especially those who want their quality time, without the hassle of being insecure or in a dusty environment.
“We have taken into consideration the discerning reveller, from those who want to have private time in a re-assuring environment to those who want to bring their families for a time out, to those on the go. We should, ultimately, be a one-stop place for everyone who seeks a good time out,” explained Graham.
Just like life was at Pamuzinda, Island of Joy is expected to peak on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, with old school music being the main attraction, though the place will remain open for the rest of the week for the casual joy-seekers.
“We have a butchery, for those wanting to do braai and a restaurant, for those who don’t have time for braai or are on the go. Basically, we have everyone catered for, in terms of hunger.”
With such an expensive outlook, wont revellers be asked to pay through their nose for the services? “Only at the VIP will people pay to get the service that will be provided there, otherwise the rest of the place will be priced like anywhere else in Harare.
”The price of beer at Zindoga will be the price of beer at our outlets, same for our butchery and restaurants. We are like everyone else out there except that we offer a far much more decent environment.”
For the kids’ play centre, Island of Joy will have two attendants who will look after the children as parents enjoy their time.
“As a security measure, every family will get an identification tag for their child which they will use to collect them when they are ready to leave.
“Children’s security and safety is of paramount importance to us and we wouldn’t want families not to enjoy their time out thinking about the security of their children.”
For those driving from the city centre, the minus side is that the Ministry of Roads could not grant Island of Joy a direct access into their place, such that motorists will have to drive up to Bathroom Boutique, where they will make a U-turn and drive in.
“We have an entrance and exit, such that as one gets in, they will be driving into clearly marked parking bays. We are hoping that we will be able to contain the vehicle population within our complex, probably except on that occasion when we will have a live act.”
After moving from Pamuzinda, where they were leasing from Victor “The Godfather” Chiraga (MHSRIP), the Awudis entered into a joint partnership that saw the birth of the LIGI franchise.
“LIGI was an idea of two couples, Lucy and Isaac working with Graham and Irene but Graham and Irene have now decided to stand on their own. But that is not to say that LIGI has collapsed, we have just started our own. And given the success that LIGI has enjoyed across town, people can see that we have quite an experience when it comes to running these joints.”
Though Graham was not at liberty to reveal the line-up of DJs who will make rounds at Island of Joy, those who remember the good ol’ days at Pamuzinda will fondly recall the acts of Dr Zobha partnering Bridget “Bubbles” Gavanga on the turntables.
Or the late “Branch Manager” DJ Mukanya who would equally stand his ground when it came to entertaining hundreds of revellers who made Pamuzinda the home of old school music.
Only time will tell if Island of Joy will live to the heights set by Pamuzinda — or if the hand of fate wont dispatch it to the same pile as Job’s, Sandros, Bretts or Liz.
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