Malunga: War vet, musician and philanthropist rolled into one

WHILE music singer Jah Prayzah has been a close friend of the army because of his ambassadorial role for the military, there is yet another singer who, in his prime, was also a friend of the armed forces, and that is Clive Malunga.

Malunga’s closeness to the army saw him shoot a brilliant war musical video titled Nesango which depicted a war zone with the cast all clad in army regalia. He had access to guns and helicopters which he used in producing the video. The video went on to become a national hit and Zimbabweans identified with it as it retraced and captured real time war episodes.

And many of us wondered how just an ordinary musician; a civilian like him would get so much support from the army? In a recent interview with the musician, Malunga chronicled his ties with the army that stretch way back. He joined the liberation struggle at the age of 18 and was attested into the national army before being demobilised in 1983.

“I went to Mozambique in 1978 and returned early 1981. From Mozambique I came through Mutare, went to Tongogara Assembly Point. From Tongogara Assembly Point, I then went to Llewellyn Barracks for integration in the army. “I was then posted to 19 Infantry Battalion, Ntabazinduna, Bulawayo. I worked under the now late Brigadier Charles Gumbo. I was demobilised from the army 1983,” said Malunga.

The Jenaguru director said while in Mozambique he stayed and trained with the late Mike Munyati (ZBC) and their camp commander was one Kasikai. He remembers being invited by the Mozambique government through ZIMOFA (Zimbabwe Mozambique Friendship Association) to fundraise for both countries. 

“I had then started performing with the Blues Revolution Band. We performed in Chimoi, Sofala and Tete. Around the year 1985, I started my music career, with the above mentioned group,” he said.

Asked why he had decided to join the struggle, Malunga said: “I wanted to free the motherland from tyranny, oppression and subjugation from the oppressor.” Malunga was to later form his own production company called Jenaguru whose thrust was to promote local musicians.

In the 1990s, Malunga through Jenaguru launched what would become one of the biggest music festivals in Zimbabwe; Jenaguru Music Festival which used to host close to 50 local musical bands for a musical jamboree. The music festival, which was held annually at Gwanzura Stadium in Highfield, Harare saw music fans streaming from all corners of the country as almost all popular and established bands converged.

As a musician himself, Malunga has bought tomb stones through Jenaguru for late musicians who include James Chimombe, Solomon Skuza, Suzan Mapfumo, Jordan Chataika, Picket Chiyangwa, Tobias Areketa, David Mankaba and Charles Mapika. “I did this out of love and as a fellow musician who had benefited immensely from other musicians I thought this was a worthy cause,” said Malunga.

Malunga, who is a first year, MBA student with Great Zimbabwe University said he is working on a 10-minute film, likely to be out in August who story line is The Liberation of Zimbabwe.                              

Jenaguru was also behind the recordings of mbira gurus that include the late Sekuru Gora, Ambuya Beauler Dyoko and Sekuru Kangara. 

Former Bhundu Boys member Kuda Matimba also recorded under the Jenaguru music label.

And Malunga is proud that it was Jenaguru who lobbied the University of Zimbabwe to confer honourary degrees to Thomas Mapfumo and Stella Chiweshe. 

“It was an honour to do that and I am happy that such a dream could come true. It was not easy putting documents in support of such an honour.

“We also awarded Mapfumo with a Chimurenga Music King medal and erected a statue for him along Harare First Street to complement the medal.”

The singer said it was not only deceased musicians he has helped. 

“I was also heavily involved in the reburial of our fallen fighters, in and outside Zimbabwe.

He said at the time of his contributions the late Winston Changara and George Rutanhire were the two former freedom fighters who spearheaded the reburial exercise in Mt Darwin.

“Jenaguru used to donate large sums of money every month to Zanu PF meant to go towards this exercise but I am disappointed because little work has been done and we hear reports of  neglected heroes shrines.

“I become very angry when I read such reports in newspapers and recently there was actually a debate in Parliament over the sad state of these shrines, and I am asking to myself what happened to the money we were paying for this service?

Asked on what happened to his plan to contest for a Parliamentary seat, Malunga said: “I wanted to contest in Norton but I have since backtracked. 

“Temba Mliswa (Norton MP), is a patriot, therefore I will never contest against him, because of what he stands for. I will contest elsewhere, not in Mliswa’s constituency.”

Malunga believes the late Jairos Jiri, Dick “Cde Chinx” Chingaira, Ambuya Mlambo and Charles Mungoshi should all have been declared national heroes.                           

Born on November 25, 1960, Malunga has released close to 12 albums and has in the past collaborated with South African guitarist Ray Phiri and our own Louis Mhlanga and Zimbabwean songbirds Prudence Katomeni-Mbofana and Tracey Zengeni.

Nesango was voted best musical video in 1997 while another song Zunde was voted number 1 in 1999 on ZBC. In 2003 and 2004 he toured Japan with the Four Brothers band.

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