Your Excellency, I would like to congratulate you and your colleagues in government and all the people of Zimbabwe on the country’s 24th anniversary recently.
now it is unheard of for an artist to write directly to the highest office in his homeland through the media. I have been prompted to break this record by a number of pressing issues in our industry.
As I write to you, I have been through a series of meetings with your surbodinates who include George Charamba, Witness Mangwende, Cephas Msipa, Vice President Joseph Msika, Samuel Mumbengegwi and lately Aeneas Chigwedere who is responsible for the Education and Culture ministry.
As a freedom fighter myself, a musician and promoter of indigenous arts locally and abroad, I feel there is a need for redress in this industry. Since the early 80s I have been involved in a number of projects to do with national interests with a bias towards the arts which is my area of passion.
I brought up a number of initiatives which include uniting all musicians through the Zimbabwe Musicians Day and the Jenaguru Music Festival over the years. I have also selflessly trotted up and down the world sourcing material and financial sponsorship to benefit under-privileged members of our society.
The organisations which have benefited include Chinyaradzo Children’s Home, Unesco fund and Street Kids in Harare.
Mr President, I have been doing these works as a proud Zimbabwean for no profit at all.
During most of my Japanese tours with my group (Jenaguru) I have used every opportunity to market my beloved Zimbabwe. I have gone to the extent of asking my manager Tomoko Takahashi, based in Japan to compose a book in two versions – Zimbabwe Volume 1 and 2.
The book, which has already been published, is written in Japanese and contains details of the true Zimbabwe, the land reform programme and our culture supported by historical photographs taken during the struggle.
This is part of my efforts to make sure that Asia and other parts of the world appreciate Zimbabwe and its people and freely market it on our behalf.
I lobbied for the conferment of honorary doctorate degrees on Thomas Mapfumo and Ambuya Stella Chiweshe who now boast international recognition.
I also sourced tombstones for 10 fallen musicians and am supporting six under-privileged but deserving Danhiko Secondary School students. The assistance comes in the form of school fees and other educational materials. Two of them are disabled.
I have also taken time to help musicians such as the late Sekuru Gora and Ambuya Beaullar Dyoko and Henry Matimba, among others. Musician Mitchel Jambo also benefited from my efforts in terms of treatment following an accident.
My problem which requires your urgent intervention is a piece of land donated by the government through the City of Harare in 1994 for the purpose of developing an arts centre (Jenaguru Arts and Culture Centre).
The idea was to nurture aspiring artists along the lines of Amakhosi in Bulawayo.
Sandra Ndebele is a product of that facility. Soon after we were awarded the land the Netherlands government pledged to give us US$14 million but the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ) blocked the move and the sponsor, in protest, took the money away to Botswana to fund a similar venture.
A number of attempts by other willing Chinese and Japanese donors could not yield anything as authorities at the NACZ frustrated their efforts.
I appeal that you intervene Mr President as it is a project meant for many people. No reasons have been given and more than 10 years down the line, a number of talented prospective stars have been lost due to lack of facilities. The project’s idea is to solely develop talent for all Zimbabweans.
I think my story has been heard and believe you will do something about it. I suggest that the operations of the NACZ be probed. Thank you for the action which you are certainly going to take and I hope this will definitely go a long way in changing the state of the Zimbabwean arts industry.