Zimbabwe: Develop Other Skills, Artistes Challenged

16 January 2020

Afro Jazz musician Aggabu Nyabinde has urged local stakeholders to assist artistes to nurture their other skills so that they do not rely solely on music in view of challenges affecting the arts industry such as piracy.

The musician, together with his father and jazz maestro Bob Nyabinde, are manufacturing and repairing guitars in their backyard home in Mt Pleasant, Harare.

Aggabu said part of their 2020 resolutions besides music, was to grow their business.

"I agree that music pays, but you also need to understand the environment we are operating in," he said. "We need to be empowered to do other projects, which can sustain us and our families.

"International singers like Rihanna, Beyoncé, Usher, Casper Nyovest, among others, are also involved in other businesses apart from their music careers. I am glad, that we have some local artistes who are doing well in other fields."

Aggabu said he chose to participate in their family business to cut costs of hiring equipment.

"The guitar-making project was started by my father long back in 1997, but he was only making guitars for himself since it was difficult to acquire instruments back then," he said.

"I used to watch him as he worked and admired every part of his skill. I then persuaded him to consider commercialising the business so that we could supplement our income and he agreed.

"We established a warehouse in our backyard and I am happy that the business is doing well."

Aggabu said they were the team behind some of the guitars being used by renowned artistes.

"We have made and repaired guitars for some of the established and upcoming artists like Alick Macheso, Jah Prayzah, Sulumani Chimbetu, Peter Moyo, Lucky Kumene and Andy Muridzo, among others," he said.

"Currently, I am working as the marketing manager because I studied Marketing Management. Right now we have diversified into electrical mbiras."

Aggabu said musicians should be versatile.

"We tend to complain that music is not paying, there is piracy and people are not attending shows among other things, but some musicians have diversified their businesses successfully," he said.

"Some are into fashion, while others are doing carpentry, which is good, but to those who are not utilising their God-given talents will continue to mourn."

Asked if the business will not affect their musical careers, Aggabu said they managed to strike a balance.

"Making guitars is a full time job, but music has always been my passion," he said. "I am currently working on my debut album to be released soon.

"I have a single which is making airwaves on local stations and YouTube called "Huchenjeri" featuring my father. Of late I have been staging shows with my father, but I am also trying to go solo, so that people will not say I am riding on my father's back."

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