The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Let the Good Times Roll

FOR once, fame has turned into fortune for quite a number of Zimbabwean musicians, who appear to be straddling on the fertile crescent in various ways. Rarely do you see some of the country's top musicians moving around with begging bowls but instead, they are now living off music alone, making many appreciate that music has become one of the top paying jobs.

A good number of musicians are living their life on the fast lane - cruising around town in top-of-the range cars from the BMWs, Mercs to the Range Rovers and anything in between.

Only years ago musicians were considered as people of little means struggling for days to no end and most of them had nothing to show for their brains and sweat.

Despite their popularity some of them even died as paupers but it appears the tables have turned as attested by the number of musicians who are flaunting their assets for all to see and admire.

They could either be renting out houses or dressing in designer suits but one thing you cannot miss is that the majority are also competing for space in the fast lane, rolling in fancy cars. Now than ever before, the life of opulence and "bling bling" is slowly creeping in.

The latest series of cars driven by our "celebs" tells a story of how musicians have moved up the social ladder and are now being defined by their tastes, more than anything else.

No matter how small the car is, there is a gap from yesteryear musicians who shot to fame but had nothing to show for it. Job Mashanda and Patrick Mukwamba could have made millions from their music back then, but their lifestyles did not translate to that .

While some are living off music, there are those who stay on the grind through hustling, while others are now moving in good wheels through benevolence of well-wishers.

Full-time musicians like Mtukudzi, Alick Macheso, Suluman Chimbetu, Freddy "Kapfupi" Manjalima, Nicholas "Madzibaba" Zakaria and Alexio Kawara have all made money from their music and can afford any car of their choice. Others have also made money through doing other things outside music.

Saturday Lifestyle trekked some of the musicians to find out what sort of cars they were rolling in.

You cannot miss Mtukudzi's Land Rover Discovery complete with personalised number plates - Tuku. The black rover with tinted glasses has turned many heads in town.

Alick Macheso opted for a car which defines his care-free attitude. Macheso or simply Extrabasso rolls in a BMW X5 metallic silver with meg wheels. The beemer has set him apart from other musicians and indeed captures the attention of his fans. Do you still remember how Beanie Man's "sim simma" craze hit Harare? Macheso is also a proud owner of a Mercedes- Benz ML.

Man of the moment Suluman Chimbetu, who is enjoying a purple patch in his career, cruises in a new baby - a metallic grey Chrysler Crossfire. When it comes to pampering himself Sulu not only knows how to make money but also spending it too. The new car imported from the United Kingdom caused quite a stir when he showed up at the 21st February Movement Gala in Glendale last week.

Seasoned sungura guitarist Nicholas "Madzibaba" Zakaria is a musician from the old skool and he drives a modest Ford Ranger twin cab. This does not mean that he's not earning enough - NO! It's just that Madzibaba likes to play it cool.

Peter Moyo of the Utakataka Express made a grand entrance at the 21st February Movement in a Mercedes-Benz E Class. Previously, the Young Igwee used to drive metallic silver BMW 5 Series.

Mai Olivia Charamba, who was voted the best selling gospel female artiste by the African Book of Records for her debut album "Amen", has developed a new taste not only in fashion but also cars. She rolls in a metallic silver BMW 3 Series more commonly known as the G-String.

Another gospel diva Fungisai Zvakavapano-Mashavave has a new set of wheels. The "Makomborero" singer rolls in a metallic silver Mercedes-Benz S Class 320. Fungisai is one of the top female gospel artistes to emerge in Zimbabwe and she singles out the First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe as one of her biggest fans.

Dancehall artiste Donald Chirisa aka Sniper Storm owns a VW GTI red in colour. Although Sniper has been in music for some time it was only this year that he claimed his spot after winning a Nama award.

Tryson Chimbetu and Jonas Kasamba, who is Macheso's chanter, drive the same model of Mercedes-Benz C Class while Selemani Mpochi who is also Macheso's dancer, drives a white Nissan Skyline.

Gospel rapper Mudiwa Mtandwa got his Mercedes-Benz C Class Kompressor not from his music but as a gift from his mentor - Prophet Uebert Angel. The "Ndaita Mari" hitmaker is a sucker for "bling" and he makes no apology for that. Another singer, Michael Mahendere of the Mahendere Brothers. got his Mercedes-Benz E Class from Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa as a gift.

Jah Prayzah is also living it up!

The "Gochi-Gochi" singer has splashed thousands of dollars on his Mercedes-Benz Kompressor. However, he has other cars to his fleet including a Toyota Mark II.

Comedian-cum-musician Manjalima is the proud owner of Nissan Bassara. While the van is a family car it also ferries his band members.

Godfather Templeman rides in a Jaguar X-Type. The "Ghetto President", as he is known in dancehall circles, is not only blowing his cash on trinkets but properties as well.

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