The Sunday Mail
SUNGURA musician Simon Mutambi is a troubled soul. He now routinely prays for the “nightmare called Covid-19” to end.
The disease is not affecting artistes only, he says, but the whole cultural and creative industries.
The Cobra King argues the pandemic has turned them into beggars. He believes there is need for a comprehensive rescue package, particularly for band members, if the little remaining of the sector is to be salvaged.
Government and other well-wishers have been assisting artistes with food hampers, but most often the aid simply benefits band leaders at the expense of group members.
Mutambi was the first sungura artiste to play at the esteemed Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA). Before the lockdown, he had all his ducks in a row. He owns a Mercedes C240 and two other cars. He also has a 18-seater Nissan Caravan and a small lorry that ferries band members and instruments to and from shows. Add a PA system to that.
“We had reserves but they are now seriously dented. In fact, we no longer have coffers to talk about,” bemoaned Mutambi.
Public gatherings of any sort are still banned, except for funerals, where the number of mourners is limited to not more than 50.
Bars, nightclubs and social clubs that usually host music gigs have been closed for close to four months as a measure to curb the spread of Covid-19. While virtual gigs have helped in cushioning some artistes from the effects of the lockdown, they could not possibly be expected to benefit all musicians.
“The lockdown is for a good cause but it has greatly incapacitated us. Music, especially live gigs, are our major source of income, but we are currently not active. We have not been considered for online gigs.”
Not every artiste is getting a chance to feature on virtual platforms. In fact, promoters seem to be interested in a handful of the artistes. As a result, it is only the so-called “big names” that often take part in most of the virtual gigs.
“The showbiz cake is big. You have never heard us complain but the prevailing situation is beyond us. I am grateful to promoters and joint owners that we have worked with before who are providing us with food and assisting our band members with money for rentals,” adds the Beatrice-based Mutambi.
“Often, help is going to band leaders, yet we are famous because of the splendid work done by our band members. They need assistance now more than ever otherwise most bands are going to disband.”
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The Cobra King frontman is hopeful that the pandemic will eventually blow over.
Accordingly, he has not stopped working on his forthcoming album.
Titled “Saka Uchaitasei”, the album will be the sungura singer’s ninth studio effort.
“I am almost done working on the new project. I do believe our health experts will soon find a solution to this pandemic. The Almighty will work through them,” he said.
“The album will be launched after the lockdown and I trust that will be soon.”
Songs on the new project include “Wafa Wanaka”, “Saka Uchaitasei”, “Mr Ibu”, “Fara Zvako”, Kurasa Mwana” and “Terera”.
“This is a good project that will certainly create waves on the market. With time on our side due to the lockdown, there is much perfection on the album,” said Mutambi.
The singer released his first album in 2009 titled “Ko Zvinotyisei”.
He has since made a mark in showbiz, particularly in sungura circles, with albums like “Zvinesimba”, “Ane Nyaya Yake”, “Ko Uripapi”, “Zvese Ndezvako”, “Zviri Pasi” and “Makakosha Wani”.