'I learnt to sing in prison'

HARARE - Former prisoner Innocence Bagunda, 29 does not regret the three years he spent in prison — that is where he discovered his singing abilities.

“I do not regret going to prison as I learnt a lot there.

“I do not think I would have learnt to search deeper for my talents if I was outside. My time in prison gave me space to reflect on my life.

“I will never do anything to break the law; I think the time I spent in jail was well spent.

“I feel that I am a new person after serving time in jail,” said Bangura.

But for Bagunda, a visit by Starbrite at Harare Central Prison where he was serving completely transformed his life.

He and his group progressed through the Starbrite competitions with two songs, from the early rounds up until the semi-finals.

When he got out of prison, he reengaged his inmate friends and still visits them for rehearsals in preparation for the finals.

His band is called Innocence Bagunda and the Last Number and they specialise in jazz.

“There are four of us and I do the singing and writing, the other band members play the guitar, drums as well as backing vocals.

“After prison I decided to star afresh and focus on music.”

Bagunda added that Starbrite gave him a new lease on life.

“I appreciate the chance I was given by Starbrite to show that I am also good at something although I am an ex convict.

“They have given me a chance to realise what I can do for myself.

“I do not think if I was outside I would have thought of singing at all, but the prison time did me good. I managed to identify the talents that

I have and I will continue to explore them out of prison.

“I do not have family here; I just have friends.”

Bagunda served a three-year term for fraud and was released in February 2014.

“I started singing alone at first as a pastime.

“I am very happy because during the time I was in prison, I learnt to compose songs in Shona and subsequently formed a group,” he said.

Bagunda is not a native of Zimbabwe.

“My native language is French and I am a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). I ran away from my country in 2006 because of the war.”

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