21 April 2013

Zimbabwe: Macheso Has Soft Spot for Underprivileged

HIS musical prowess is in sharp contrast with his humble beginnings and amazingly, Alick Macheso has managed to retain the humility that makes him stand out from other artists.

His soft-spoken and demure decorum gives no hint of what he has accomplished and one cannot help but admire him for keeping the negative side of fame at bay.

Dubbed the "King of Sungura" whose songs are played in most households and public places, Macheso has accomplished a lot in the industry he describes as "cut throat and merciless." But the determination to make something of himself and shake off his background has been the driving force that spurred him on.

Speaking from his offices at the Aquatic Complex in Chitungwiza recently, Macheso said although music was his life, he was passionate about helping the disadvantaged, mostly orphaned children and others living in difficult circumstances.

"I cannot turn away a hungry child; I would rather forego certain luxuries meant for my family to help that child or that woman," he said.

Despite much publicised reports about his relationships with women, Macheso has remained true to his beliefs and in his own way respects marriage and what it stands for.

"Not wanting to sound like I am bragging, I have assisted a lot of my friends who were experiencing marital strife and for me it's about the children. I value their innocent minds and I know what a divorce can do to a child, it messes them up and the effects could be irreversible," he said.

True to his word, Macheso was chosen as a humanitarian ambassador for the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society, a task he does not take for granted.

Macheso told a belated International Women's Day commemorations recently that women should start projects and programmes that will make them independent and empowered. He said his involvement with Red Cross would give him an opportunity to contribute to women's empowerment and capacitating the vulnerable in the community.

Macheso was a bit reluctant to talk about his background and understandably so. Born to parents of Malawian descent, it was not easy on the farms and young Macheso was faced with a bleak future if he had failed to negotiate his way out of his surroundings.

"My background was so bad that I left home at a young age and started off on my own. I was so young and it was not easy, but I kept my feet on the ground determined to be somebody and not only for myself but for others as well," Macheso said. "I told myself that if I could work myself into a position of influence, then I would be able to touch the lives of many people."

Tears fill his eyes as he remembers the dark times and he struggles to regain composure. That part of his life remains a sensitive area and as he wiped away the tears, Macheso again thanked God for giving him strength to plod on despite the hardships.

"My songs are mostly focussed on what is going on in the society. I strive to bring out in the open issues that are normally not discussed and when I sing, people will have no choice but to face up to the issues I would have raised," said the sungura musician.

"When I am thinking of a song it does not come to me all at once. I take ages to write just one song. I may write one or two lines, then leave it, drive around going nowhere in particular. Sometimes I drive for hours and then I realise I am headed nowhere and then I park and reflect on the song."

Asked to comment on his new projects which have once again thrust him further into the lime- light, Macheso said he felt blessed that he was chosen for the Bakers Inn advert, "Zora Butter'.

"I take it in my stride and that does not make me more important than the next person. It is still me," he said.

The musician is seemingly unaffected by negative comments from people who look down upon him.

"I know vanonditi tsaga but tsaga riri kuwana mikana and those who are cool varipo [they label me uncouth but I am getting opportunities ahead of the cool guys]", he said.

Macheso said his family was important to him.

"I have been with her [first wife Nyadzisai] since 1986 and that's a long time. I don't understand it when a man scorns his wife who has stood by him when he was a pauper and then when he strikes gold he turns his back on her," he said.

Macheso's life story is akin to the rags to riches one but it is the humbleness that makes him who he is.

does macheso sing about his girlfriends?

Alick Macheso said contrary to popular belief, he does not sing about his alleged girlfriends in songs such as Petunia, Madhawu and currently Cynthia from his latest offering Kwatabva Mitunhu.

"They are just songs. It is not true that there are girls out there. Those rumours got me into trouble at home but I explained myself," he laughs mischievously.

sungura king wants to open a children's centre

Macheso enjoys his own company best and spends more time all on his own.

"I'm happier when I am on my own, just thinking about my music and the projects I intend to embark on, like opening a centre for children right in the ghetto where my heart is," he said.

Although he has now moved to Waterfalls where he built his "mansion", his heart remains in the sprawling suburb of Chitungwiza where he spent the larger part of his life.

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