28 October 2018

Zimbabwe: Fungisai Opens Up On Zimdancehall

Gospel musician Fungisai Zvakavapano-Mashavave says the decision to incorporate Zimdancehall beats to her gospel music over two years ago was influenced by the need to create an alternative sound for her children.

The mother of three announced her arrival on the Zimdancehall scene, widely viewed as secular culture, with the release of Vanondibatirana featuring sensation Killer T in 2015 and it went on to scoop the best collaboration gong at the Zimdancehall awards in 2016.

Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the Global Handwashing Day commemorations in Harare recently, the gospel songbird said she had not come to join the Zimdancehall bandwagon, but to sanitise the genre which has been "associated with violence, drug abuse and obscenities".

"I came in as a mother with a special concern for my children because leaving them to sing the obscenities, the violence and all that without me having to provide an alternative message was going to haunt me," said the musician, who, apart from scathing criticism, earned the nickname Ras Fungi.

"I took it upon myself so that I could give the Christian an alternative, on a beat that we cannot all run away from because you can choose to run away from the Zimdancehall beat today but you are losing your children because that is what is happening today, it is a new generation."

The transition has, however, not been easy for her as it also invited negative criticism, especially online.

"Of late I haven't seen much of it. actually it has watered down. I think our society, like every other, does not accept change abruptly, change is gradual so sometimes they panic when they witness change," she said, adding that she was happy people now understood her.

Meanwhile, two weeks ago, the singer raised the ire of some armchair critics when she released a club version video and family version video for her latest single titled Kumusoro.

"It is inspired by my belief that I have this mandate, I have a calling to package the same message to different groups of people who have different interests," she said.

"I did the club version specifically for the youth, it is because I believe the Christian youth can have so much fun without engaging in harmful activity."

On whether she was getting into the race to release an album like other artistes this festive season, Ras Fungi said that was not in her lmmediate future strategies as women's work was not getting the same attention as that of men.

"I am not in a rush to release an album. with 14 albums under my belt I will take it one step at a time and I also believe the industry has not grown enough to accommodate women and their capabilities," she said.

According to her, women have to be "10 times better than their male counterparts" to get attention and she was aiming to break that cycle.

"I have always been one of those people who are persistent in the music industry. you know I dare go places that are not dared by the normal female artiste. So, I am one person who is working so hard to try and tell society that this is who I am, make them believe in who I am and women can do this thing."

Fungisai rose to fame in 2000 when she recorded her first album under singer-cum-politician Elias Musakwa's stable.

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