The Sunday Mail
Garikai Mazara – Leisure Editor
Thousands have packed his church for services and testimonies, hundreds have been inspired by watching his television channel, others yet draw hope and faith from the work they see him doing on his DVDs.
But on Tuesday Prophet Magaya showed the world – and all those who cared to pay attention – that he is just like you and me. That besides being a man of God, that in spite of the healing power he is said to have, he has a human heart.
He did what many companies have failed to do, what many corporates whose images today benefited from the voice of Pretty Xaba (as she did a number of commercials for them) failed to do in her hour of need.
Some say Pretty’s relationships with these companies were commercial and that she was paid at the time they engaged her services, and that there should be no reasonable ground for her to expect assistance from the same.
Such arguments make sense; but if they are taken in the context of how much the arts in general and artistes in particular are trampled upon, how much they are short-changed when it comes to remuneration and benefits, then such contentions lose credence.
Musicians in the dancehall genre are crying foul daily that they are disrespected, yet dancehall is the genre of the moment. If dancehall artistes can be short-changed, what more an artiste, who is called to do a voice-over for a commercial? A commercial which, in turn, will bring thousands of dollars to the corporate?
Pretty’s case, as has been of several artistes before her, should be an eye-opener for the arts industry and formulators and regulators of policy, that something should be done to bring sanity and respect to the arts. Because of what these artistes would have achieved nationwide, if not internationally, they are ashamed to come out in the open and tell their sad stories of deprivation and abject poverty.
So when they hit hard times they suffer in silence, not wanting the world to know that the famous faces and names cannot afford the basics of a decent life.
Having interacted with almost all forms of artistes – musicians, actors, poets, dancers – I know the challenges they face: the biggest being that the arts are not largely considered an industry, a form of employment.
When an artiste is engaged, it is seen as some sort of favour, hence the “token of appreciation” that does not match the service rendered. This is the reason we end up with poor celebrities, celebrities who cannot afford the lifestyle that they should be living.
And instead of crying foul all the time, the arts industry needs to take the bull by the horns, possibly sector by sector, and come up with standard practices.
For instance, when a dancer is to be engaged for an hour’s performance, how much should they be paid? When Pretty is to do a voice-over for 30 seconds, what is the standard rate? If Eunice Tava is to appear in a theatrical production, what is the minimum she should expect?
As it stands, the industry has no norms and standards, it is left to the skills of the negotiating parties to come up with a package. And usually the negotiations go against the artiste, because more often than not, the artiste would be looking for mere survival, for a stipend that can take him/her from day one to the next.
Which makes Prophet Magaya’s US$18 000 contribution all the more meaningful and significant. Some might argue that the donation was made in light of Pretty being a member of Magaya’s Prophetic Healing and Deliverance Ministries, and there was a chance that if Magaya had procrastinated, some other church leader would have taken the initiative. We can argue about that forever.
What is not debatable is that Prophet Magaya has done what several companies, who were approached and pledged to help, failed to do for the voice that helped with their commercials.
Pretty’s case is cause for introspection on what the arts can do for its artistes.
Should it be left to individual artistes to find and fund their own medical aid?
Should it be left to individual artistes to find their own funeral cover?
These are some of the questions and issues that the arts sector need to look into.
Why sector by sector? Because there is no way a musician, who gets hired and paid by the week, can agree terms with an actress who gets plays to feature once in two or three months. But if musicians are to agree, they have a common ground to meet, same for poets, comedians, etc.
Pretty’s case is not the first – and most likely will not be the last – but it would be great to draw lessons from such experiences. For how long will our artistes – our celebrities – be laughing stock, be begging for a livelihood? There comes a time to draw the line, and possibly that time could be now.
Prophet Magaya, you outdid yourself this time!
Dear Mr Magaya
Of all the stories I have read about you, I found the one that dominated last week’s papers, where you donated US$18 000 to Pretty Xaba for a medical procedure, very touching and intriguing.
If it were possible, that is if I could get to you in person, I would have loved to shake your hand and say “you are the man – thank you for helping Pretty”.
I read about your teachings that people come from India to get healed of cancer at Prophetic Healing and Deliverance Ministries, but I will not dismiss your statements with the usual disdain I would under normal circumstances.
I had problems with your insinuation that Pretty could have chosen to be delivered spiritually but she chose to trust the Indian doctors more, but still I see the good side of your gesture.
I feel that was the most selfless act that you as a leader, a pastor, a healer and a prophet could have made, and it convinced me that you are a normal human being capable of making rational decisions not clouded by pride.
While most people know that you have money and that the thousands that you gave to Pretty did nothing to deplete the mountains of cash you have – very few people believed that you would actually give Pretty the cash to go to a hospital when your popularity is largely based on your powers to heal disease.
The thousands that throng your church almost on a daily basis with some spending several days waiting for you to pray for them come for your healing powers. The fact that you ignored what this kind gesture would do to your reputation as a prophet and a healer who has the power to solve all problems is what prompted me to write this letter.
I know of people that have died taking “holy water” or “anointing oil” for their disease and without seeing a doctor. You did not just let Pretty go, you actually paid for the trip and the treatment.
Above all, you did overnight what big companies that had been approached by the “Let’s Help Pretty Xaba Campaign” failed to do in over two weeks despite the fact that they had pledged to assist.
I believe in miracles – but I do not see how that tube surgically planted in her stomach would miraculously disappear after, say, an all-night prayer.
We have seen you build houses for the homeless and donate groceries to the elderly, and now we have seen you help a church member seek medical attention – you truly outdid yourself this time around.
I am sure the HIV and Aids activists, the Cancer Association of Zimbabwe and other medical professionals who constantly worry about their patients abandoning their medication after being told to rely solely on miracles can now rest easy.
You are too big an influence over a thousands, if not millions of people, therefore, being responsible with your actions and words can save many lives and help many people.