The Herald (Harare)

24 October 2009

Zimbabwe: The Force Behind ZTV Musical Programmes

Harare — HE has made an impact as the producer of many popular musical programmes on ZTV, although his face remains a mystery to many viewers.

While presenters of such programmes are often showered with accolades for making the programmes a must-watch in many households, his name is only mentioned just in passing as part of the crew behind the scenes.

But for the youthful entertainment executive producer at ZTV -- Samanyanga Samuel Murenga -- working behind the scenes is what defines television akin to a driver-conductor relationship.

And indeed, like a driver whom passengers seldom recognise, the 32-year-old producer has for years been the major driving force behind most successful programmes on the screen.

However, Samanyanga said he has every reason to smile for being behind the scenes.

"Wherever I go people don't easily recognise me and this gives me an opportunity to hear what they think about our programmes.

"On the other hand, presenters are mobbed by people wherever they go," he said, cracking one of his tooth-gapped smile.

No one would doubt his talent: it is his magical touch that has been the wand that transformed the likes of Music Calabash, Sisonke Mix and Hoza Friday, among others, into what they are today.

But his unassuming and cool as cucumber demeanour belies all these achievements.

"I am a small town person who doesn't believe that everything in life is found in Harare.

"I started staying in Marondera after finding a place (school) for my two kids and naturally I had to go to a place where they could get the best," he said.

Samanyanga -- who calls himself "a proud divorced single father of twins" -- also said he believes that he was not cut to be a presenter but a producer.

"I've never dreamt myself as a presenter. "I don't think that I've got the face for television.

"I am camera shy and I just feel I will be able to do more if I am behind the scenes," he explained.

Listening to him speak, one immediately realises that the young man is so passionate about his job.

"I have been a producer at ZTV for seven years and I love every moment of it.

"To me, being a producer means coming up with a concept and interpreting it a project that is eventually beamed into people's households to enjoy.

"My job also involves grooming presenters and artistes, scripting, filming and editing.

"But this has been easy to me because I have been able to relate with people, hear their feedback and adjust the content of the programme from what they say," he said.

Such is the work of a the producer who started off his career in life in a fertiliser manufacturing company -- Sables Chemicals in Kwekwe in 1997 -- before being advised by a relative to try out broadcasting.

"I also had a passion for filmmaking, and whilst I was studying marketing and at the same time going to work, I then enrolled at the Harare Polytechnic for my mass communication studies.

"This led to my attachment at ZTV as a production assistant in the drama section," he recalls.

The rest, as they say, is history.

A month did not last when the aspiring young man's dream finally came true when he was moved to entertainment production, where his first love lay.

"For someone who lacked enough exposure it was an overwhelming experience but I was told to stay behind together with a few other guys when our internship period expired," he said.

Television has opened up new vistas for Samanyanga who said that he tries to make every effort to impart everything new that he learns to the viewers.

The poet-turned-producer said: "Pictures, especially TV, don't lie. If I am arrested today and someone takes my photos or I appear on TV, that would be the unvarnished truth.

"Television also makes it easy for people to learn new things because it is a very powerful and vivid medium, unlike reading a manual in order to learn something new," explained Samanyanga.

Although it is now exactly a year since separating from his wife, Samanyanga believes that he has to concentrate on looking after his twin siblings -- Isheanotida and Isheanesu (6) and also excel in his career.

"Although I am currently seeing someone, what I want to do is give my children a good foundation," he said.

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