Female artistes take stock

HARARE - Zimbabwe's male-dominated arts industry has proved very challenging for many female artistes who, in most cases, have to juggle between motherhood and a career in the sector.

In light of the women’s month which is now in its twilight, the Daily News spoke to several female artistes to find out if they are happy with the strides they have made in the arts industry where men still call the shots.

Jazz guitarist and singer Clare Nyakujara believes more hard work will take her arts career to greater heights.

“I think it is mostly consistency and persistence because it is not easy. With all I have done, I still need to keep proving myself because I still have a long way to go, and surely I will get there,” said the Bulawayo-born artiste.

“I think as women, we should go about our work in the best way that we can but we should not try to be like men. We should take every step to tackle each challenge as it comes.”

Eyahra Mathazia, an actress and reggae musician, believes she has what it takes to stake a claim in the male-dominated reggae field.

“In my genre reggae lovers are very discerning, so if your product meets their high standards, they will welcome you,” Mathazia told the Daily News.

“This is why world class international producer Doctor Cave was willing to work with me and up my game. And the young local producers are respectful of my talent and my input as I am of theirs.

“What makes me strong is the inspiration of the most high and the need to keep the conscious thread amongst all the slackness. Fortunately, people abroad don’t have the same attitude of blocking out the sisters and I am currently collaborating with big names overseas.”

Pioneering female bassist Penny Yon, who is also an official at Pamberi Trust, attributes the success she has achieved to her upbringing.

“I was born into a musical family, the only girl in a family of four, and thankfully given the same encouragement and opportunities by my parents as my elder brothers,” said Yon.

“This instilled in me confidence and the understanding that there should be no differences between women and men in the arts.”

The celebrated bassist believes hard work has helped her make it where many women artistes have fallen short.

“Since then I have been performing in various groups — in acappella and full bands, playing Jazz, Afro-jazz, and gospel music — while raising my own family of three boys.

“It hasn’t always been easy as a mother with children and putting food on the table as my first priorities, but I think I have been driven by the pure joy of playing music and singing, and even after extended breaks to take care of the babies, I keep coming back to music — in the public eye or not,” explained Yon.

“My confidence in my relationship with music has carried over into other relationships, and my partner has a healthy respect and support for my ‘music life’. 

“For me I have, happily, not reached the level where being a woman artiste might be a disadvantage to me.”

Mafriq’s lead vocalist Pauline Gundidza, ex-wife of controversial artiste Roki, says women artistes have no reason to feel inferior.

“Well, I always keep in mind that God made us all in his image whether one is female or male. I have always regarded myself as a born-leader and conqueror,” said Gundidza.

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