Katiji sisters make their mark

HARARE - Multi-talented artiste Edith “WeUtonga” Katiji ,36, and her sisters Fatima ,31, and Ethel ,29, have pushed the Katiji name to the apex of Zimbabwe’s arts scene thanks to their exploits in music and theatre.

Edith, a gifted actress, vocalist and arguably Zimbabwe’s best female bassist, is the most well-known of the trio but she is getting a good run for her money from Jah Prayzah’s backing vocalist Fatima, who is better known as Stimela, and Ethel- a vocalist in songbird Cynthia Mare’s band.

In a recent interview with the Daily News on Sunday, Edith-the eldest of the bubbly sisters described how the love for the arts pervades the Katiji family.

“There are five of us, and I think four of us are quite arty. Our dad served in the army, and our mom was a full-time housewife. Our brother Daniel is a hotelier by profession but he is also a sound engineer and a DJ.

“The only exception is perhaps our youngest sister Beauty. She is very sporty; she is a basketballer. She has played at the youth games, and plays for Southern Mavericks in Bulawayo, and the whole house is filling up with medals,” said Edith.

Edith, who is married to filmmaker Elton Mjanana, traced the Katijis’ vocal talent to their maternal side of the family.

“Our maternal side has a strong musical side. Our grandmother, aunt and uncles can sing. Growing up, if anything happened in our family you would know that the church youth choir, the women’s choir and the main choir would be affected. Even right now the generation that is there knows harmonies from as young as three.

The popular bassist and vocalist added that she was the one who initiated her younger sisters into the world of arts.

“I roped Fatima into the arts in 2004 and I tried to groom her to take my place at Amakhosikazi (an all-female Bulawayo outfit that Edith co-founded in 2003 with other female musicians who were members of Bulawayo-based Amakhosi Performing Arts) because I was moving to Harare, so I thought well she can sing, so let me give her a chance…. Stimela joined and took my part at Amakhosikazi while I joined Tanga Wekwasando in Harare.

“Okay so right now we are trying to groom our sister Ethel into music, so far so good since she is now singing with Cynthia Mare,” said Edith who leads a band called Utonga that was formed in 2010.

The Mukaranga singer also proudly gave a recount of the Katiji sisters’ exploits in theatre and drama.

“We are also actresses. We did Sinjalo — a TV drama. In the drama I played Mai Shupi mukadzi waforomani (wife to the foreman) and Ethel was Shupi. I also did theatre.

“Everything just opened up at the same time, and when I came to Harare I also got into theatre and I got a Nama award for a play I performed at the Harare International Festival of Arts (Hifa). It was a one-woman play and I played about eight characters and that got me the award,” said Edith.
Fatima, who has risen to become the star backing vocalist in Jah Prayzah’s Third Generation Band, shared with the Daily News on Sunday how she got the moniker Stimela.

“The name Stimela came when we were on stage and Jah Prayzah just pointed at me and said Chitima. I guess because vaiti eh mwana anodhonza uyu (this one is gifted).  Because I come from Bulawayo, Stimela sounded more appealing to me.

“I started working with Jah Prayzah on the album Tsviriyo and then Kumbumura Mhute as well as Jerusarema,” she said.

Stimela partly attributes the success she has registered on the arts scene to the support she gets from her husband and her sisters.

“My husband is my number one fan, and he appreciates what I do, to the point of even ironing my uniform and even doing my shoes. I have one child well two, including another who is my foster child.

“Not many people know that I am Edith’s sister though. When things get tough I go to my sisters to cry it out. I am the crying one and the smiling one as well.

“Men are the ones who give me a hard time because we perform in pubs. Heh babe huya pano (hey babe come here), but I always say hey I’m not your babe, call me Stimela and some men wrongly think the smile I readily give is for them,” said Stimela smiling as usual.

Despite being the youngest, Ethel says she is the iron woman among the trio.

“To be honest they both come crying to me because I can handle things. I have three children and my sisters’ children to take care of as well.

“People do connect me with my sisters and most of the times with Stimela because we almost look alike, and it was worse when I cut off my hair. People would say, “oh Stimela, why have you lost so much weight?

“But people are getting to know me more because I am now into music. Previously, I was into theatre especially in Bulawayo and then I temporarily quit the arts and went to Namibia and then South Africa where I worked as a chef. In South Africa, I also did a theatre production. When I returned to Zimbabwe I resumed my arts career,” said Ethel.

The youngest of the Katiji trio is confident that her sisters will help her realise her music potential.

“My sisters have been grooming me, and because they are already known, it is easier for me. I want to get to their stage as well; I am here to stay. Right now I am full time with Cynthia Mare,” she said.

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Comments (2)

love that guys, keep it up hey and you make us proud

simon phoenix - 30 November 2015

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