Let's honour heroes while they live

HARARE - There is no doubting the immense contribution to the Zimbabwean arts industry by journalist, businessman and musician — Paul Brickhill.

Brickhill is the proprietor of The Book Café, the music and arts calabash that has nurtured talent in Zimbabwe.

While there are many such giants in society, it is not always according to the script that they are remembered or paid tribute to by those enamoured by their works and beneficiaries
of such contributions.

But this week, local musicians led by the legendary Oliver Mtukudzi staged a solidarity show for Brickhill who is struggling with ill health.

Mtukudzi and his drummer Sam Mataure came with the idea which found resonance with the colleagues who thronged the Book Café to show support for Brickhill.

Mtukudzi’s involvement in the solidarity concert for Brickhill is even more fitting given the question he appropriately asked in the song Andinzwi: Do you have to die to be a hero?

By holding the solidarity concert in the manner they did on Tuesday, Zimbabwean musicians went a long way in teaching our politicians that heroes do not have to be necessarily
honoured when they are dead.

Brickhill, alongside legendary artistes such as Mtukudzi, Thomas Mapfumo, Lovemore Majaivana, the late Augustine Msarurwa, Stella Chiweshe and Chiwoniso Maraire, deserve to be held
in high esteem by Zimbabwe’s music community.

The Book Café, established by Brickhill 17 years ago, has provided a platform on which many upcoming Zimbabwean musicians have flourished.

Through programmes like (FLAME) Female Literary, Arts and Music Enterprise and Sistaz Open Mic, the Book Café has helped to unearth and nurture some of Zimbabwe’s best female musicians.

Given the Book Café’s contribution to Zimbabwean music and other arts areas such as poetry and fashion, it is not surprising that the Book Café won the Prince Claus Award in 2012 in
recognition of “its exemplary support of culture and development in Zimbabwe.

While we applaud musicians for showing solidarity with Brickhill in his moment of need, we would like to encourage the artistes to cast their net wider and assist fellow musicians
like Noel Zembe, Josphat Somanje and Tedious Matsito whose desperate health conditions have been well-documented in the local press.

In the absence of a vibrant union for local musicians — they have no choice but to help each other whenever the need arises.

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