We shook East Africa: WeUtonga

HARARE - Afro-jazz musician Edith Katiji aka Edith WeUtonga is back in the country from her East African tour which almost became a miss after she failed to raise funds for the tour.

She left the country on the last day of August to Kenya where she was invited to perform at one of the biggest festivals on the continent — the Blankets and Wine Festival held on September 2.

She came back into the country over the last weekend.

“We had a great time in Kenya and Uganda, we even received overwhelming support from those that attended our shows,” said the bassist.

She performed at the Blankets and Wine Festival for the first time.
 
She then travelled to Uganda where she staged two concerts, one at Sheraton Hotel in Tilapia and the other one in Ggaba.

Ggaba is a location in Uganda’s capital city of Kampala.

“I would like to thank the Ugandian music promoters for the support they gave us. They dealt with us fairly and in a loving manner,” she said.

Her maiden trip almost failed to flower because of a serious lack of funding.

She later managed to travel after the Culture Fund chipped in with part of her required $8 000.

She fought tooth and nail to raise the rest of the needed funds to cover for airfare and yellow fever vaccination.

The money catered for her eight-member band.

“Culture fund gave us $3 000 while some well-wishers catered for other costs,” she said.

Well-wishers responded to WeUtonga’s plight after she called for help on the social network — Facebook.
 
She said local music promoters and the corporate world failed to fund her trip.

Her decision to beg money from her over 5 000 fans on Facebook left tongues wagging in entertainment circles.

Some people say her desperate move was not wise or at least not expected of a celebrity of her calibre.

Some analysts alleged that her move exposed her weak financial stability to fans.

“I had no other option but to open up to my fans. Some promoters discouraged me while some told me in black and white that they are not in a position to help me with funds,” she said.

Prior to her trip she took a jibe at her fellow countrymen saying, “Zimbabweans only enjoy staying in a well furnished house but they do not want to build.

“It is painful to note that our promoters are busy promoting outsiders while turning a blind eye on us.

“We have to create and support our own stars and failure to do so will lead us to remain underdogs.

“Take for example South Africa’s jazz musician Zahara, she was nurtured and supported well by her country and now they are exporting her but in Zimbabwe we only need well established talents such as Oliver Mtukudzi.

“Mtukudzi struggled to reach where he is now, few people and those from the corporate world helped him but now they are jostling to make use of him because he is now stable — it is very painful,” said the bassist in an interview with the Daily News.

However, because of the lack of funds three band members failed to travel to East Africa.

“We had to leave behind three of our members because we had failed to raise sufficient funds for the entire band but I am glad the trip went on well.

“The trip gave us an opportunity to market and spread Zimbabwean music to East African countries. The audience fell in love with our music and it really motivated us,” she said.

The thrust of the festival is to promote Afro-fusion musical genres.

The Blankets and Wine Festival commenced in 2008 and local artistes such as Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi and Chiwoniso “Rebel Woman” Maraire have showcased there before.


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