13 July 2013

Zimbabwe: 'Sabhuku Vharazipi' Goes Viral

The blockbuster comedy "Sabhuku Vharazipi" has made inroads beyond Zimbabwe's borders.

It has become a hit with Zimbabweans in countries such as Tanzania, South Africa, Botswana, Malawi and Australia, among others.

The hilarious comedy has 3 000 views on YouTube and over 27 000 likes on its Facebook page.

Despite this appreciation of the polished piece of art, the faces behind the comedy remain relatively unknown in the country.

David Mubayiwa, the face behind the comedy "Sabhuku Vharazipi", is in Harare, for what he termed "tour of duty".

Together with his fellow actors Wellington Chindara who acts as chairman and Kumbirai Chikonye, who play the role of Ambuya in the comedy are in the capital to promote "Sabhuku Vharazipi 2".

They have lined up shows throughout Harare. But who is "Sabhuku Vharazipi"?

Based in Shashe resettlement area in Masvingo, Mubayiwa, Chindara and Chikonye formed Ziya Cultural Theatre Club in 1993.

The club has in the past released plays such as "The Voice", "Idler's Corner", "Streetwise" and "Nhamo's Troubles" among other plays.

As they say wine tastes better with age, it is, however, his role in the play "Sabhuku Vharazipi" that has catapulted him to stardom.

So popular is the comedy that he now moves around wearing a hat so that people do not recognise him.

"I was in Chitungwiza last week and people jostled to see me," he said.

Mubayiwa said his interaction with the villagers, headmen and chiefs perfected his act which he effortlessly delivers.

"The play was once called 'Sabhuku naCouncillor' when it was penned many years ago but we decided to rename it 'Sabhuku Vharazipi' in an effort to suit the recent trends in village politics," he said.

The comedy revolves around the character "Sabhuku Vharazipi", a corrupt headman who manipulates the distribution of food and other inputs in his area in an attempt to get what he wants, including women.

He uses his position and intimidates women before he asks for sexual favours. "Sabhuku Vharazipi" also uses his position for political mileage to enrich himself and his family.

He is the door to the village and anyone, either a politician or otherwise, has to pass through him.

The headman approves every activity in the village and in the process he calls the shots.

The play is a socio-political comedy touching on several issues like corruption, politics of the stomach, headman's position in the village and life in the village.

The title of the comedy is metaphorical for one who is left exposed.

Mubayiwa said they came up with the name after realising that headmen were respected in their communities to the extent that being exposed was the height of embarrassment.

The story starts slowly but then develops into a complex narrative of village life and the politics of survival.

"In Masvingo, all organisations that we approach for assistance say they are headquartered in Harare and you know how it is like when the application goes that far. We have moved to Harare for the sake of our careers since we are full-time actors," Mubayiwa explained.

The group said they will return to Masvingo to shoot "Sabhuku Vharazipi 2" before returning to Harare.

"We are popular but we have nothing to show for it. Almost every household has our discs but we did not get anything from our sweat and this time we don't want to repeat the same mistake.

"We have employed our marketing manager to find ways to make money out of our talent," said Chindara, who acts as the chairman in the comedy.

Born in 1973, Mubayiwa is married to Serve Matimbire and they have three children - Patrick, Tapiwanashe and Tatenda.

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