Orchestra Mashava Stars release album

Oliver Shambira

GATHS Mine’s corporate quest to keep its workers entertained has given birth to yet another musical group — the Orchestra Mashava Stars &#821

2; which has heralded its arrival with an album poised to give the burgeoning genre of urban grooves a good run for its money.

The nascent group has filled the void left by the Devera Ngwena Jazz Band and subsequently the Zhimozhi Jazz Band which had firmly established themselves as formidable musical groups on the mine.

The birth of the group has ensured the small mining community remains a closely-knit family as they can easily access all they need — including entertainment — under one roof.

Fronted by Joconiah Manoti, Orchestra Mashava Stars was formally formed in 2004 after years in the shadows of their two pedecessors bankrolled by the company.

Support of the musical group is one way the company ploughs back into the community, what it gets from it.

All members of the group are formally employed by the company while downstream employment is created for jobless youths during its shows, thereby helping them eke out a living.

The group comprises Manoti on the lead guitar, Patrick Mbewe, (rhythm), Fabian Ncube (bass), Alois Nyathi drums. Emmanuel Munyuki does the backing vocals helped out by Nyathi.

After a couple of years of hard work, the group has released a seven-track album Pakurarama.

The debut project explores various topics that are bound to appeal to a wider spectrum of the society, ranging from jealousy, witchcraft and sage advice on the need to refrain from extra-marital affairs in the wake of the HIV virus.

The group has already undertaken tours of its area, reaching out to the entertainment-starved communities. Manoti says the response has been encouraging and, judging by the fans’ sentiments, Chirimo Chikwambo is bound to take them places.

The song is steeped in the typical Sungura beat of the late Simon Chimbetu mould. It tackles the contentious issue of mysterious deaths in the family line. Previously, it was an offence to label one a witch, but owing to pressure government has given in to lobbies to revisit its laws to make the practice of witchcraft a punishable offence.

Ndashanduka Runa is the lamentation of a woman whose hubby returns home in the small hours of the night while Muroyi Wehama derides those prone to destroying what some toil to build.

A father brags about his ability to fend for his family on Masango Anoera in his efforts to ensure his family does not become a nuisance by partaking of food from neighbours’ households.

Other songs are Agnes and Chemunhu Hachirovi which discourages deviant behaviour.

Manoti said the 100% local content policy enunciated by government, while noble, deprived local artistes of a chance to learn from colleagues from other countries as music was a universal language.

“There are obviously a few things we would like to learn from other countries but with this blackout, we won’t be able to improve on our music,” he said.

He added: “There is also need to strike a balance between a deluge of urban grooves and other genres to serve our fans a diverse dish to choose from.”

Manoti is no novice in music. He was part of the late Paul Mpofu’s group, Zambuko, which unleashed the timeless Murambinda.

Manoti started off as a footballer, a passion which took him to Masvingo.

He played as a defender for Darryn T and Rufaro Rovers before he was snapped by Masvingo United. He says he helped the latter two gain promotion to the fashionable premier league.

It was after feeling he had reached the zenith of his football career that he hung up his boots in 2001 to pursue yet another passion — music. How far he will go, only time will tell. But his debut project has already set tongues wagging.