The Sunday Mail
For many people, the name Daniel Gonora does not ring a bell. So when he was announced as one of the nominees in the sungura category of the Zimbabwe Music Awards, many eyebrows were raised. Who is Daniel Gonora and how did he manage to be in the club of some of the best sungura artistes in the country?
Daniel Gonora is the man who has entertained thousands of commuters as they make their way home on the streets of Harare. He is the blind man who, together with his son, used an empty 20-litre container as a drum and a homemade guitar to create music that raised the spirits of many exhausted workers.
Many looked at him and wondered where he would have been if fate had dealt him a better hand. Probably giving the likes of Alick Macheso, Tongai Moyo or Somandla Ndebele a run for their money. He could have been the guy whose lyrics we chant at soccer matches and at huge gatherings. What a star he could have been. While many shook their heads and pitied him, Daniel Gonora did not give up on his musical dream. With the aid of well-wishers, this musical maestro found his way to the recording studio where he recorded the album “Wawacha”. He was so satisfied with the fruits of his labour that he did not hesitate to submit his work for consideration by ZIMA. For him, the musical journey is not yet over. In fact, according to him, fate did not deal him a bad hand, he has his gift of music which will raise him for the glory.
Gonora is one of many musical legends in the making that have been brought to the forefront by this year’s Zimbabwe music awards. When Zima opened up for entries, one wonders if even they were aware of the magnitude of the move they had made. By inviting artistes to submit their work, Zima unconsciously extended a hand to hundreds of artistes around the country to step out of the woods and be recognised. The introduction of the online entries system and the partnership with Zimpost ensured that every interested musician got an opportunity to be considered for this much-coveted accolade. At the closure of the entry window, Zima announced that they had received an overwhelming response from musicans. Now taking a look at the list of nominees it is clear that the response was not just overwhelming in terms of quantity but the quality of entries was exceptional.
While many seasoned artistes appear on the list it is very encouraging that a lot of stars in the making have taken the opportunity to show the world what they are made of. A week ago no one knew who Malimbah is or what they do. Now people are busy searching for their music to find out who these young people whose group has found itself nominated three times for Best Jazz, Best Duo/Group and Best Newcomer are. The same can be said of other artistes like Yolanda Candice, Davina Green, Shingai Mangoma, Hick Gwarimba and many others who have found themselves finally being thrust into the spotlight that they definitely deserve because of Zima. It was also very encouraging to note that the number of women participating in the music industry has increased greatly. We have moved so far from the days of a male-dominated music industry. The women are now rising up and showing just how much talent Zimbabwe has. Looking at the entries one feels a sense of relief that they were not part of the adjudication panel because these men and women must have had quite a mammoth task judging so many great musicians. According to Zima marketing and public relations executive Farai Chapoterera, the adjudication process for this year’s edition was a new one that Zima introduced to ensure transparency and accuracy in the adjudication process. She said: “Our adjudicators made use of an online adjudication system. Through this system, judges in-putted their individual scores via their laptops or tablets. These scores immediately went on to the server and before being forwarded to our auditing firm for collation and verification. There was no way judges could collude or adjust their scores in favour of a certain artiste. Once they logged in a score it was final.”
Speaking on the judges themselves, Ms Chapoterera said: “Our judges were all experts in the music industry from the media, academia, production and promotion. Our judges focused on the technical execution of submissions, lyrical content, instrumentation as well as creativity.” She said to ensure there was no collusion between judges and artistes, Zima had kept the names of the judges confidential and that they would only be announced on the day of the event.
In a statement announcing the nominees, Zima also announced that in line with international practice, Zima would be honouring a musician who has contributed to the development of Zimbabwean music. The recipient of the chairman’s award will be Dickson “Cde Chinx” Chingaira. When this was announced, many thought, “Well it’s about time.”
Cde Chinx is an icon in Zimbabwean music who, through song, has played an integral part in nation building, both pre- and post-independence. He is a man who does not boast about his accomplishments or his importance yet it is only right to put his name in the hall of fame.
Now that the nominees are out, all the attention has shifted to the main event on October 4 2014. Zima has promised fireworks and it certainly seems they will live up to their promise.