Vashandiri Vashe: a musical group from Zhombe that rocked the national gospel charts

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ZHOMBE barely makes national headlines. Since the days of Learnmore Jongwe, who died nearly 20 years ago, it is rare to find a story of Zhombe on the radio or in the national newspapers, unless it is a violent death on an unlicensed gold mining site or some other crime.

For those who cannot locate Zhombe on the map, this is a mining community in the Midlands Province, perched between Kadoma to the east and Gokwe to the west. Despite its status as a backwater, the people of Zhombe are known for their determination to succeed through thick and thin and for supporting each other in building a community long forgotten by officials.

True, there have been positive stories here and there, but these have often been more than made up for by droughts, violence, crime and the astonishing rate of school dropouts.

When a colleague and homeboy in South Africa alerted me to the exploits of Vashandiri Vashe Voices on national radio, I immediately gave up my Saturday routine and turned on the radio. Their song “Hoyo Mushandiri” was in 16th place out of 20 last week, and it climbed to 10th place the first day I listened to it on the radio!

As a person born and raised in Zhombe, hearing a musical group from my home fight with well-oiled bands from all over Zimbabwe on national radio left me on the verge of tears. The Vashandiri Vashe Voices, formed in 2016, mainly comprises young people who praise and worship through music and are based right here in the Zhombe countryside.

Members of the Zhombe-based gospel music group Vashandiri Vashe Voices

In mid-June, their song “Hoyo Mushandiri” from their debut album “Enda Uvake Areka” debuted on Radio Zimbabwe Gospel 20 played every Saturday morning.

Some of us with Zhombe blood running through our veins admit that we had to change our Saturday routines to listen to the gospel show and also support our home group by voting their song.

The group members

The Vashandiri Vashe Voices group comprises ten members from the business centers of Sidakeni, Mangwarangwara and Bee Mine:

1. Willard Mugere
2. Simon Ziyambe
3. Zodwa Masina
4. Isheanesu Mugere (Chisango)
5. Felista Chisango
6. Simbarashe Mugere
7. Stanley Zidhlani
8. Thrive Chisango
9. Carlton Takwara
10. Melusi Mabusela

At the start of the group, a mother from the nearby Kasawe business center worked with them, but later apologized after her husband died.

The group then worked with a certain Mr. Moyo from Empress Mine. He too withdrew later and Zodwa Masina, known as Mai Eliza, joined the group as a mother counselor. It was in February 2020.

“We would perform at nightly gatherings and receive a token of recognition, maybe US $ 10. We would perform at funerals of church members and other church functions,” Zodwa told the news. writer in the presence of other members of the group.


Members of the Zhombe-based gospel music group Vashandiri Vashe Voices

In order for the group to stay intact and train week after week for five years without cashing in money, it takes a lot of commitment and focus. They are mainly young people with young families for the love of God.

“We never charged a specific fee for our performances,” Zodwa added, explaining how the band managed to record their album.

She continued, “The token payments we received turned into savings in our own pockets. With further support from a few locals, we hired a suburban omnibus and made the trip to Gweru to record our first album. “

The album, titled “Enda Uvake Areka” was recorded in Gweru at GM Studios. The group expressed their gratitude to the producers for understanding their unique circumstances while recording the songs.

The band members recounted to this writer how they made the trip to Gweru, so a seemingly small step that has now placed them on the national music charts.


Members of the Zhombe-based gospel music group Vashandiri Vashe Voices

“We arrived in Gweru around 4 am. The producer wanted us to record two songs a day, which would have allowed us to stay in Gweru for at least three days.

“We pleaded to be allowed to record all of our songs in one day as we had no place to stay in Gweru and no funds for our upkeep. Ultimately our plea was heard and we were done. the same evening check-in. At 7 pm we were already in our rented omnibus back to our home in Zhombe, ”group members said.

With the songs now recorded and of good sound quality, Radio Zimbabwe covered the track “Mushandiri Washe” and it is already a hit in the Gospel Top 20. Gospel Top 20 is a weekly column of the 20 best songs of the week for hopels. The songs are voted on by listeners via Radio Zimbabwe’s WhatsApp platform.

“Mushandiri Washe” made her chart debut at number 16, before moving up 6 spots to number 10 the following Saturday, when I was forced to give up a routine that I love so much.

The following weekend, the song “Hoyo Mushandiri” was perched at number 9, yet another improvement from the previous weekend.

Album tracks

1. Mweya Wangu – singer Melusi Mabusela
2. Touya Kwamuri – lead singer Melusi Mabusela
3. Hoyo Mushandiri – lead singer Zodwa Masina
4. Nowa Nowa – singer Willard Mugere
5. Zadzisai Chirevo – singer Willard Mugere
6. Tirimo Munzira – singer Willard Mugere

As the song titles show, the Zimbabwe Methodist Church has a huge influence on the music and style of Vashandiri Vashe Voices, which is not surprising given that the members are Wesleyan.


Members of the Zhombe-based gospel music group Vashandiri Vashe Voices

The Vashandiri Vashe Voices group performs under very difficult circumstances. It’s a miracle that they’ve remained intact for the past five years and found themselves on the national music charts with little support from the larger community. But it’s never too late to support a good cause, and any support would be greatly appreciated.

As already said, the majority of the band members are young single or recently married. They are family members who have the responsibility to feed their families and also have an unquenchable thirst to sing for God, for Zhombe and for Zimbabwe. They can easily achieve both with our support.


Front view of Vashandiri Vashe Voices’ debut album CD “Enda Uvake Areka”

They walk up to 7 kilometers to the practice point. This author has observed that this, along with family responsibilities, sometimes takes a toll on their workouts which must take place every week.

“We would like to practice more frequently, but sometimes members do not participate due to various challenges,” said one member.

For a group that has just been broadcast on national radio, branding and visibility are essential. With the exception of the horn trumpet, all the materials they used to produce were borrowed. Owning their own instruments would help them greatly during practice and when recording. It would also significantly reduce their production costs.


Members of the Zhombe-based gospel music group Vashandiri Vashe Voices

Group promotional material such as t-shirts, caps, tracksuits, banners and other visibility enhancements will help the group stay in the image locally and nationally.

The least anyone can do, especially in the present moment, is vote for their song to rise to the Gospel Top 20. The program airs every Saturday at 8:00 a.m. Zimbabwe time. However, voting can take place at any time on any day of the week through the following procedures:

How to vote

1. Add the Radio Zimbabwe WhatsApp number (+263) 714024553 to your contacts.
2. Tap this contact in WhatsApp and enter the following message: #Hoyo Mushandiri, Vashandiri Vashe Voices.
3. Press the send button.

Saturday mornings for me are devoted religiously to jogging 4 miles, inspecting my crops and livestock, taking a bath, and reading a multitude of morning papers before finally sitting down to breakfast. It’s a therapeutic routine that I’ve perfected since donkeys years ago, and that I barely break while I’m at home.

It took the gospel musical group Vashandiri Vashe Voices to make me break this routine. And this coming Saturday is the third consecutive weekend that I have to stay listening to Radio Zimbabwe.

——
Felix Chiroro writes in a personal capacity. A product of Zhombe, he wishes to see all the talents of his home region achieve national notoriety.


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