The Sunday Mail
SUNGURA has been dressed with a ball-gown to cater for those who value the finer things of life.
Veteran promoter Josphat Hozheri created the ambitious “Executive Sungura Night” to cater for well-to-do members of society that have love for the genre yet fail to attend live gigs in grimy places.
The event was officially launched last Thursday after test-running for weeks, receiving favourable attention.
At the launch were top politicians, businesspeople and socialites with characters like Cde Joseph “Chinoz” Chinotimba, Innocent “Mhofela” Shito, Wanisayi “Mahwindo” Mutandwa easily standing out.
Musicians that supported the episode included Somandla “Mafia” Ndebele, Suluman “Sulu” Chimbetu, Peter Moyo, Simon Mutambi, Baba Harare, Sarah D, Pamela “Gonyeti” Zulu, Marcy Janyure etcetera.
King Alick Macheso failed to attend as he was said to be out of the country on official business. However, he is still expected to “officially” endorse the venue.
Sungura, which is also known as “museve”, is generally regarded by many as an out of town genre, a preserve for rural and peri-urban areas.
This notwithstanding the fact that the genus is part of most playlists in gaudy cars that roam city streets daily and uptown parties.
It is not unusual to hear Alick Macheso, Leonard Zhakata, Pengaudzoke, the late Tongai Moyo, Leonard Dembo, Simon Chimbetu and John Chibadura’s music being played in grandiose confines.
Some members of the upper class with like for the usually fast-paced beat jokingly refer to it as “arrow music”, a simple translation of “museve music”.
Hozheri, who now trades as Jazzy Josh, is making efforts to create “a new gig market” for musicians in the ostensibly despised genre.
He notes most uptown venues are not so keen on giving this group of musicians a platform to showcase their exploits.
High-class joints favour contemporary sounds.
Hozheri explains his mission.
“I came up with the ‘Executive Sungura Nights’ idea after noticing that artistes in the genre are not slaking the thirst of a unique following. I have well-to-do friends that come here for various business chats and I often hear them talking about Mutambi (Simon), Tatenda Pinjisi or Romeo Gasa’s music yet they have never seen them in action,” he says.
“They have either been told or read about the musicians and will certainly want to see them perform live but, of course, they are very particular about places they go for gigs. This is why I have decided to dedicate a particular day of the week to sungura.”
The “Executive Sungura Night” is held every Thursday in the capital at Time and Jazz Café, which is situated at Cresta Oasis.
Rising musician Gasa is a constant feature of the affair and he is joined by guest sungura artistes on a weekly basis as a way of adding gusto to the instalments.
Revellers also have a chance to choose musicians they want on the line-up.
Attendance for the event has gradually been swelling with each passing moment.
The million-dollar question, however, is will Hozheri be able to maintain the momentum and panache that has been characteristic of past editions?
Apart from high-grade revellers, cold drinks are served including well-prepared dishes like the popular “gango”.
Says Hozheri: “Attendance figures are growing according to our projections thus we will not be caught off-guard. In short, we are planning ahead.”
Mafia, a veteran sungura musician, believes initiatives like “Executive Sungura Nights” have been the missing link.
“Our shows out of town are always full to capacity. This is not to say we don’t have people that want to see us in action in the CBD. I believe this is a positive step in the right direction and very soon more joint owners will be comfortable hiring us after seeing the success of this project,” notes Mafia.
Dendera crooner Sulu weighs in.
“We want Hozheri to be given a bigger and much better venue than the one he currently has. This event has potential to grow because it was well thought out and crafted. The response thus far is overwhelming. I must say I’m delighted with Mdara Josh’s (Hozheri) ingenuity, it’s good for the industry,” he said.
Gasa, who has been part of the project from its embryonic stages, reckons: “It is a different crowd that we are playing for altogether.
“At least we are now enjoying both worlds. Sungura is a brilliant genre that is equally enjoyed by members of different classes of society.”
Could this development signal the beginning of a rebound for sungura?
The music type used to be the first choice for most Zimbabweans regardless of gender, class and age groups.
Who could ignore hits like “Venenzia”, “Vimbiso”, “Bonus”, “Mudiwa Janet”, “Getu”, “Chiramwiwa”, “Mabhauwa”, “Mugove”, “Anodyiwa Hataure”, “Chauta”, “Tsaona”, “Samanyemba-Murozvi Mukuru” and “Shedia”.