Gospel artiste's crusade for the Tonga language

HARARE - Rising female gospel musician Abigail Mwembe has attracted a lot of attention due to the way she uses as every platform she gets not only to promote her music but to also the Tonga language.

She has never hidden her displeasure at the way her mother tongue continues to be margnalised despite the fact that it is one of the country’s 16 official languages.

Daily News on Sunday’s Jeffrey Muvundusi spoke to Abigail on a range of issues including her passion for the Tonga language.

Below are excerpts of the interview:

Q: Who is Abigail Mwembe?

A: Abigail Mwembe is a born-again spirit-filled gospel musician, from Binga even though I was born in Dete, in Hwange District. I did my primary school at St Francis Xavier School and higher education at Regina Mundi (Lupane). I then moved to Bulawayo for tertiary education at New Visions Technical College where I did a higher national diploma in secretarial studies before moving to Bulawayo Polytechnic where pursued a diploma in business administration. I am currently working towards an Institute of Marketing Management (IMM) qualification.

Q: How did you venture into gospel music?

A: I did not choose to sing gospel music but I was chosen by God to minister in song. I believe it’s more of a calling than a choice. I take it as a big honour that God called me to do this and I love it.

Q: How many albums have you released to date?

A: I have done three albums which include Makabongwe, Makatendeka and Basking in His Glory.

Q: But it shows that you have been in the music industry for almost a decade now but your music only started to make a big impact over the last few years. Why?

A: In any organisation there is a boss and in this case God is my boss. Being employed by him is the best thing that ever happened to me.He holds the map; he knows when to take off and when to land. All I have to do is to avail myself for service. As such it is up to God how and when the impact is made. All I know is that his ways are perfect. If i had made impact much earlier, I don’t think I would have lasted this long in the gospel music industry. Over the years God has been doing great work in me, moulding me and increasing the anointing in my life.

Q: Would it be correct to say that the live DVD Basking in His Glory was the turning point in your career?

A: It didn’t seem the case at the beginning but now I am all smiles because it has opened bigger doors for me. By the way I faced a lot of criticism when I did the live DVD.Haters had a lot to say and I felt very discouraged, until my videos off the DVD began to feature prominently on One Gospel located on DStv channel 331. It was a major breakthrough and suddenly my music began playing on several South African radio stations. As I speak I have been invited for a live radio interview by one of the leading South African radio stations on August 19. I will reveal more details towards the date because like they say-don't count your eggs before they hatch.

Q: You are very passionate about the Tonga language but doesn’t this limit your audience?

A: That is what makes me unique; I am Tonga. I will tell you a story. When I was growing up it was very humiliating to raise your head and say hi there I am Tonga. I don’t know why the world had this" thing" against the Tonga people.Tongas were said to be very uncivilised and uneducated people you name it. Tonga women were generally limited to being house maids. So for me, singing in Tonga is a tool I am using to empower my own people to show that God loves the Tongas and that’s a fact. We are all the same in the eyes of God. I also use other languages (Ndebele, Shona and English) for obvious reasons. My ministry is not only centred on the Tongas but other people as well.

Q: We have very few Tonga female musicians proudly singing in their mother language, why is that?

A: Like a mentioned before it is largely because the Tongas are marginalised; more so the women. It could also be down to an inferiority complex and maybe lack of resources. But I am happy because the situation is slowly changing. We are now showing that we can also do it, yes we can!

Q: You once said you wanted to promote the girl child in Binga through gospel music, how far have you gone in this respect?

A: It is slowly shaping up. It may seem like I am moving at tortoise speed because all the projects I do are self-sponsored. I will be going to Binga during Heroes holiday for a free show in Siyabhuwa. A collaboration with one Tonga artist is coming soon. All these are efforts to see my dream come true.

Q: Back to your music, which one is your favourite song and why?

A: I have two favourite songs. Number one is “Tata Leza (Lord God my father).” The Holy Spirit gave this song three days before my dad died. Before he breathed his last, my dad called me; let me say he prophesied about my ministry. We all know what they say about the last words of a dying man. The song Tata Leza was a confirmation from the Holy Spirit about what was said about my future and all through my dying dad. Number two is “Mutsvene.” One day I had a dream. I dreamt I was in a place like a desert; it was just a big empty space. As I was walking there alone in the middle of nowhere; I had some beautiful voices singing mutsvene (holy) mutsvene (holy). I started following the sound of the voices; the melody was like that of a million voices. As i was singing along, I was hit by a strong presence of the Lord. I saw a huge choir dressed in all white, ascending and descending singing ‘Holy he is

Holy.’ I remember joining the choir singing along. It was a great experience and I woke up in that mode.

Q: As a gospel musician, what really inspires you, how difficult is it to be a stand-alone female musician?

A: The Bible talks about women like Deborah, Jael, Anna, Dorcas,

Abigail etc. These women where outstanding and they changed people’s lives and stood for the gospel against all odds. The same God then is still the same God now. I can also make a difference in my time.  However, whenever a woman starts something, she will always face fierce competition from some men who always feel they can do better. But I don’t pay attention to such things anymore now I keep to my lane because the supreme God is my boss and my father so i am covered.

Q: What can you say about gospel music in Bulawayo, can one survive through music alone?

A: I am not sure how those who are surviving on music alone are doing it but the last thing i want in my life is false glory. I don’t want to act all popular on social media and go nicodemously to people asking for money for transport and small groceries. In my opinion, also being on every poster in town is not a sign of success. The best thing to do is to your push music at the same time, until such a time when your music is in serious demand.

Q: What’s your last word?

A: Trust God who called you and keep to your lane. Relax and know that what worked for your neighbour may not necessarily work for you. In other words, discover yourself; know who you are and what makes you tick. Know your strengths and weakness and then develop yourself from there. Remember to serve God with all your heart and soul and he will bless you.

Comments (2)

Keep pushing Tonga woman one day is one day..

Nick Magamba - 2 August 2017

You are trend setting my dear.. Kadunyiswe uNkulunkulu

Ticky nompumelelo - 2 August 2017

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