Zimbabwe: Chibhodhoro Still Dreams At 70

John "Chibhodhoro" Muyambo

Covid-19 has wreaked havoc on the livelihoods of musicians and other artistes countrywide, especially after social distancing restrictions led to large events such as concerts and festivals being banned.

Unable to cope with financial challenges posed by the pandemic, some prominent musicians have resorted to performing other menial jobs outside their talents to earn a living.

In an interview, yesteryear musician-cum-actor, John Muyambo, popularly known as "Chibhodhoro" from his days in the Mukadota drama series, said has not quit the arts sector, despite Covid-19 which has made it hard for the sector to perform as normally.

Chibhodhoro, who is a drummer for Tanga WekwaSando, called for support from stakeholders and relevant authorities to assist whenever they can.

"The future for concerts and festivals and the hundreds of thousands of people who work in them looks bleak," he said.

"We have been living on hard times, this pandemic just came with no one prepared or having made any savings, many of us have been relying on doing menial jobs just to survive.

"Until these businesses can operate again, which is unknown as to when the pandemic ends, Government support will be crucial to prevent mass insolvencies and the end of this world-leading industry.

"I have been in the game for long, for more than 50 years now. I cannot work as a daily wage labourer owing to physical conditions."

For Chibhodhoro, no concerts means no money.

He says the pandemic has taught him to be a farmer, besides being a drummer to Tanga WekwaSando.

"Covid-19 is the worst possible case scenario for artistes like myself," said Chibhodhoro. "Our profession has suddenly stopped existing, the virus has pulled the rug out from under our feet. I am relying on rentals from the two rooms at my house, but the amounts are so small that I have resorted to maize farming in Chiweshe just trying to earn a living.

"I thought that I should be doing something otherwise it will be me on the suffering side. Imagine if Tanga WekwaSando decides to quit music, then I will be in trouble.

"Some productions somehow are shunning to cast us as actors, maybe they think I am old, but believe you me when it is acting I can say I am starting because I haven't fulfilled my dream yet."

The grandfather of 10 said he has now become a devout Christian at International Faith Apostolic Church in Budiriro.

Chibhodhoro, who has spent close to five decades in the arts industry, says he is a bitter man though he still cherishes Safario Madzikatire a lot.

"The gods have been unfair, they have not presented me with the opportunity to realise my cherished dream of becoming a band leader and to win an award," he said. "I acted with Safario for a very long time and did many dramas together, I even recruited him people like Katarina.

"It pains me having worked with him to have failed to beg an award. Each time I see Mukadota's son Elijah collecting honours on behalf of his father, I am bitter."

Chibhodhoro said he was still to reach his zenith, let alone get gratification from his contribution to the industry, saying this was only going to come after he gets the opportunity to front his own outfit.

He said contrary to what many people think that credit to the growth of his brand should go to Mukadota, there are other big names that he has worked with in the arts industry.

Interestingly, the 70-year-old drummer said he was not going to rest until his dream of becoming a band leader comes to fruition.

And he has spent close to four decades trying to assemble a public address system for the yet to be gathered group.

Chibhodhoro said he was worried local promoters were failing to support artistes and only target big names who guarantee quick returns in terms of investment.

He attributes his longevity to the fear of God.

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