The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Mai Charamba's Many Roles

TO many people Olivia Charamba or simply Mai Charamba is an accomplished gospel singer who has stood by her husband Charles since their formative years in late 1990s. Together they formed a formidable combination and well deservedly earned the name "First Family of Gospel".

However, besides being a singer Mai Charamba is a qualified pastor, a farmer, an ambassador, and above all, a mother.

In an interview with Saturday Lifestyle, Mai Charamba reflected on her multiple roles and a career which spans more than a decade.

The "Africa" singer said enrolling at theological college was aimed at enhancing her music career.

"Actually people don't know that I am an ordained pastor. I have been a pastor since 2004 when I graduated at Living Waters Bible College. Singing is a way of ministering the word of God and gospel musicians should compose meaningful songs. This is why when I compose songs I know what to write," she said.

The gospel diva, however, confessed that she spends more time behind the microphone than on the pulpit. Amai Charamba said she decided to become a pastor because she believed God chose her to minister His word.

"I believe that God prepared me for the job that He gave me as you know I have been ministering through music. So I decided to advance my biblical understanding by learning theology and as we speak I have a diploma in that regard," she said.

Besides having a rather busy schedule on stage, Mai Charamba also finds time to work on her farm on the outskirts of Harare.

"I enjoy farming and we are currently putting good structures on our farm. It is something in us," she said.

Mai Charamba has five children and she says motherwood involves taking care of the family.

"Baba vanofarira kudya huku yechibhoyi nembatatisi (Charles likes to eat road runner chicken and potatoes)," she said.

This week the celebrated gospel couple was appointed Road Safety Ambassadors by the Zimbabwe Traffic Safety Council. Also appointed were football legends George Shaya and David Mandigora and their task is to campaign against drunk driving through song.

Now in her late 30s, Olivia, met the affable Charles in 1995 when she was just an ordinary member of the Apostolic Faith Mission. It is difficult to separate the two musically that is. Following their marriage, Charles who had already established himself as a gospel singer, was impressed by his wife's vocal prowess.

He encouraged her to join the church choir as well as backing him during recordings including live performances. Eventually, Olivia became a singer in her own right.

This culminated in the release of her first album entitled "Amen" in 2000, which was followed by "Daily Bread" in 2002. During her recordings, Charles became her backing vocalist.

Together they have toured overseas as well as several African countries such as Mozambique. The award-winning couple share amazing chemistry on and off the stage.

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