Female musicians graduate after course

The following article was originally published in News Day

6 June 2015

Written by Winstone Antonio

GOSPEL musician Namatai Chipanga and over a 100 others on Thursday night received certificates after the successful completion of a music instrument use course at the Zimbabwe College of Music.

The course, which was offered following a baseline study on the culture sector conducted by Culture Fund in 2009, which showed that only 10% of women in the sector were in the leadership positions, was meant to train the female musicians to play music instruments.

The course was offered in partnership with the Culture Fund of Zimbabwe and Swedish Embassy.

Speaking to NewsDay on the sidelines of a concert to mark their graduation, Chipanga could not hide her excitement. She said she was now a renewed and better skilled musician.

“I have benefited more from this programme. Women are often dancers and backing vocalists, but with this programme; I have learnt a lot on how to develop my career. I can confidently say with this knowledge, I can hold a show single handedly,” Chipanga said.

“Many thanks to sponsors of the programme. Zimbabwe College of Music, you have educated women and you are guaranteed the nation will benefit.”

The journey that was aimed at empowering female artistes through instruments training and performance skills started in August 2014 and ended on Thursday night with a concert dubbed Women Musicians Final Concert at Zimbabwe College of Music.

This was the second concert after the first one was conducted last week as preparations for the final one that saw women receiving certificates.

“After realising that a lot of women have not risen to the top tiers in music as most of them are dancers or backing vocalists, we decided to come up with a programme aimed at empowering them to play instruments,” Zimbabwe College of Music executive director Rachel Jera-Chigwanda said.

Jera-Chigwanda further challenged female musicians to scale greater heights and go beyond playing second fiddle as merely dancers and backing vocalists in male-led bands.

Culture Fund programmes officer Chipo Muvezwa said for the outreach and talent identification, as well as training of the musicians, her organisation poured in $9 800 in support of the project.

“Culture Fund seeks to promote creativity, innovation, talent identification and nurturing projects such as this programme that was co-ordinated by Zimbabwe College of Music,” Muvezwa said.

“Culture Fund recognises that within the arts sector, women have been marginalised, therefore, any project that will seek to redress gender imbalances within the sector such as this one becomes important to us.”

At the concert, the musicians took turns to entertain guests showcasing what they mastered during the programme.

As some of the musicians are yet to record, during their performance they had to perform cover version songs of renowned musicians, among them super star Oliver Mtukudzi, Busi Ncube, the late South African reggae musician Lucky Dube, Andy Brown and John Chibadura, much to the delight of the guests.

After proving their prowess that charmed guests, among them Starbrite Talent Show founder and executive director Barney Mpariwa, the musicians got a boost in their endeavour to make it to greater heights when Mpariwa said if they were to audition at the talent show, they would be part of its third round.

Among the guests who attended the event were Sports, Arts and Culture ministry principal director Reverend Paul Damasane, Hivos programme officer Stephen Matinanga, Ghana Embassy representatives, National Arts Council of Zimbabwe director Elvas Mari and Education Coalition of Zimbabwe director Maxwell Rafomoyo.