Let Fungisai fly

HARARE - I have followed singer Fungisai Zvakavapano-Mashavave’s artistic career for years now, from the time she was being produced by fellow singer Elias Musakwa at Ngaavongwe Records.

Through the years, her talent has blossomed to superstardom as a gospel singer and she is counted among the finest and consistent singers of that genre.

Apart from Olivia Charamba, there is no one else worth comparing Fungisai’s prowess with in as far as local gospel music is concerned.

I believe her recent dancehall hit duet song with Killer T hasn’t changed much of her status as a gospel musician; instead it has cemented her profile among the youths.

I admire Fungisai — she is young and educated. She is a family woman who works hard to market her music even going to the extent of selling her own CDs on the streets. The artiste is also into fashion, creating her own labels and designs.

While all that she creates and designs cannot satisfy everyone, her entrepreneurship zeal is really commendable as it is hard to survive on music alone these days due to piracy.

The diva has received some lashing for trying to be different; she performed at a Harare club and all hell broke loose; she played football with the boys during a tournament featuring musicians and former soccer stars and people said she was unchristian; she arrived at the recent dancehall awards in style, accompanied by bikers and all hell broke loose; she released a dancehall song which angered some; her dressing has been described as unchristian; and all the other stuff.

But really, why shouldn’t Zimbabweans just let the girl fly?

Playwright Raisedon Baya said, it is unfair to continue to confine her to one genre. “We can’t continue calling her a gospel artist. Let’s allow her to stretch her horizon and experiment.

“If the memes are being done by pranksters I don’t have a problem with them. It’s part of the hazards of being a public figure.

“My only problem is I hear they are being pushed by other artists. It then becomes unfair on her. But she can turn it all around and use the publicity to her own good.”

Actor Obrian Mudyiwenyama said, Fungisai is a very open-minded individual and an artist. “She is simply ahead of her time and has been reinventing herself to stay relevant to a huge cross section of the public. She has matured as a creative artist and does not think within the box.

“If we had more artists and indeed people like Fungisai, our cultural industry will be somewhere.

“Even though some are dissing and saying all sorts of things, we all have noted her ingenuity in staying relevant as an artist. I have a lot of respect for her. Besides who are we to judge?”

Journalist Loughty Dube said, Fungisai has a right to choose what she wants in life and that choice includes re-defining her musical choices. “While she started as a gospel singer there are no limitations for her to decide otherwise and people must respect her choices.

“Being a gospel musician does not for starters means that she is a Christian in the same manner that those of us that speak English language are English.

“She should be respected like everyone else, we know a lot of singers like Hosiah Chipanga who started their careers singing something else but they are now gospel singers and they have never been criticised for that.”

Filmmaker Elton Mjanana said, Fungisai has a right as a musician to explore different sounds and facets of her trade. It increases her versatility and ensures her a wider net in market. I would encourage her to do so.

“However, she as it were, has lost some supporters big time and right now her career is at a point where she is seen as a joke. That is utterly unfair but it is what it is in an unforgiving world of showbiz and life in the public scrutiny.”

Mjanana added that, Christians on the other hand feel betrayed by Fungisai when she says she never intended to be a gospel artist. “They supported her, and she made a name and some measure of fortune for herself on the back of their support — which was in monetary and emotional terms. It is a very bitter pill for them to swallow when she sounds arrogant and ungrateful like this — especially on a very sensitive subject like this in a society that has seen the rise of fanatical Pentecostal tendencies.”

Poet Mbizo Chirasha said, Zimbabweans need to learn to accept change. “A lot of people think in a straitjacket way and they like frowning at versatility. We are people who have allowed carnality to be present within ourselves and I don’t think it’s fair. The diva must move on and keep on doing what is best for her creativity and for her fans in Zimbabwe.

“I think we have for a long time as a people been destroying our own art by victimising our own creators of art.”

Former broadcaster and Rooftop Promotions publicity Silvester Taurayi Tapfumaneyi said ,this is just a phase which will go away with time. “There was a time in Zimbabwe when music instruments were a thing of the secular world only and it was taboo to play guitars such that when they were introduced some stopped going to church saying the devil has taken over the house of prayer.

“Not only that, women were not allowed to wear trousers in church to an extent that one would be returned home. It goes on and on even lip stick wasn’t allowed. Not only that because there was a rhumba musician who released the song Dombo — he was attacked left, right and centre.”

Poet Blackheat DeShanti said, she does not think it is a crime to be different as an artist or human being.

“However, we must analyse the context of the change. In Fungisai’s case, the transition to her new image is difficult because she had portrayed herself as a gospel musician for a long time. Unfortunately, society seems to have preconceived notions about the expected norms of a gospel artist which are intertwined with “Christian values”. (Could explain anger on the part of Christians).

“Paradoxically, most artists are multi-faceted people who can easily wear many hats and I suppose she feels comfortable wearing the secular music hat. On that note, I feel society might need to give her a chance to experiment with her various capabilities.

“As for her dressing, I do not think people are trying to restrict her per se. I think they were more appalled by the tacky outfit that she wore.

“The pose made it worse. To help her transition, maybe she ought to research (read, browse etc) so she can be up to date with contemporary fashion standards and dress accordingly.”

She said in conclusion: “I think that while this might have been an embarrassment to her, it is also a wake-up call to her and artists in general. Planning is indeed a pre-requisite before launching a public career of any nature.

“It would stand her in good stead to utilise all this publicity to her advantage, instead of wallowing in self-pity. Sometimes opportunity is not always packaged in the way we expect.”

Media practitioner Rashweat Mukundu said, it is only fair to say that Fungisai has every right to be who she wants to be. “Christians, are not called to hate but to love and compassion, and those who feel she has gone astray, must approach her issues with respect. Abusing her is not going to bring her back to the Christian fold.”

Comments (3)

Well she is free to do as she wishes. However , in the past she went on record saying that she could not share the stage with secular musicians. A few years down the line, she makes an about turn and now wants to be one of the secular musicians - some kind of musical Jonathan Moyo. I think this has been the source of the criticism directed at her.She is no doubt talented but has tended to court controversy in her career.

Kule - 1 April 2016

most christians are just hypocrites. they listen to zimdancehall, Macheso, zakaria etc...but they just want to limit Fungisai as to what she can sing without limiting their ears themselves. Kure uko! maholier than thou agara anonetsa but kuhura ndivo vakuru vako.

Bona Mugabe - 1 April 2016

fungi is a good musician! the only down I noticed was a change in her style when she acquired her own instruments and stopped using musakwa's instruments. her lyrics also changed a bit from around the days she got married. but all this is bound to happen when an artist is developing and navigating the industry. all artists are versatile; fungisai sang with tuku and jah-preza I think; and there was no problem! then why cant she sing with killer-t?! in-fact, its killer-t who benefited from that collabo becoz fungi is a bigger artist than killer-t! in our little kantry we have developed a mentality of criticising everything. we criticise our own flag bearers for no apparent reason and sing praises to foreigners who erode our morals & culture and don't contribute anything. we throng gigs of foreign artists who often fail to live up to their billing(s) only for the likes of winky to steal the show! we raise our own heroes only to knock them down! there are people worth of criticising in this kantry but we are afraid of facing them becoz they are ruthless; why then do we avenge our frustrations on innocent pple like fungi who are using their talents??! we only succeed in hauling insults, shouting obscenities and using profane language against our own artists when other kantries are prospering by supporting arts, showbiz & entertainment industries; why???

SaManyika Chaiye - 2 April 2016

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