Home » Arts & Culture » A Campus Gig At Last

After a brief recess of the University of Zimbabwe last week, students, lecturers and support staff are happy to be back in session. This week, the second semester comes with a big surprise as the UZ campus comes alive with exciting entertainment.

Billed to perform in the Great Hall this Saturday, March 28 is superstar Jah Prayzah and his Third Generation Band.

Supporting acts include Chikwata 263 and Khaya Roots plus several DJ’s.

Jah Prayzah is a well known entertainer and students on campus especially the ladies, are promised a magical night this Saturday.

Chikwata 263 is a popular punk rock band based at the Book Cafeacute in Harare. Their music is different from the usual sunguradancehall type but very exciting .

The band has cultivated a reputation for being ungovernable.

Recently, they launched their debut nine-track album, “Chauya” with tracks “Bata Mwana” and “Zuva Radoka”. The band comprises Tomas Brickhill on lead guitar, Hector Mugani on mbira, Blessing Chimanga on drums and Raymond on bass.

Sometimes they are assisted by Tinashe Mukarati on saxophone.

Khaya Roots are a group of four youngsters who play dancehall music and are managed by Pablo Nakapa former bass player in Winky D’s Vigilance Band.

Their average age is 14 years old.

This group of youngsters is well disciplined and will soon overtake all the dancehall chanters in the country.

The campus gig also gives the students time off the rigorous academic life and an opportunity to mix and mingle with others.

A prominent Harare lawyer who was a UZ student between 1990 and 1993 was reminiscing about the campus gigs of the 1990’s as he recalled, “Those were the best times of my life on campus. I never missed any shows.

“I remember Thomas Mapfumo, The Pied Pipers and Lovemore Majaivana coming to entertain us at the Students’ Union Building.

“It was through these gigs that I met my wife. She was a bit of a reserved character.

“She was in Swinton Hall and did not have anyone to attend the Pied Pipers’ show with. She said she was a big fan of the Pied Pipers and had even bought three of their singles, ‘Simukai’ ‘Reggae Sounds of Africa’ and ‘African Woman’ to prove it.

“I offered to take her to the show and the next day we were dating. Oh, those were wonderful times!”

Over the last 10 years, there had been a dearth of live music gigs on UZ campus due to unacceptable behaviour by a handful of students and people from outside the campus.

These spoilt the fun for everyone and the gigs came to a stop. It is hoped that the Jah Prayzah gig this week, will bring a new beginning for campus gigs.

I have met very few people at university who don’t like music.

There are people who will walk on hot coals for Oliver Mtukudzi tickets. There are others who get all heated about Zim dancehall – and then there are those whose flash sticks are full of Macheso, Tocky Vibes, Killer T or Sulumani Chimbetu.

In this day and age of economic hardships, youngsters have resorted to music as an avenue for survival. Some form musical bands while others help in other arts sectors as a way of earning a living.One would expect universities to pick up on this and deliver guidance and support, but it seems they are falling short.

Live music is a footnote in the offerings of many a student union. Joining a choir or an orchestra might be encouraged, but there doesn’t seem to be much going in terms of supporting the sort of music most popular among students. Where are the facilities for musicians to hang out and play together? They have to head off campus to get their fix, and universities are doing little to hold them back.

It’s hardly surprising that so many musicians drop out to pursue a career in the industry.

Witnessing live music on campus gives a lot of inspiration to would-be musicians.

Many bands across the world started off on university campuses when musical students simply got together and joined social clubs that would imitate their popular groups.

The Jamaican outfit, Third World, is one band which survived their three years of study at university where they met and ended up being world famous.. Having met at The University of The West Indies, they left with four degrees and a handful of well-honed songs such as “Ninety Degrees In The Shade” and “Now That We Found Love” between them.

Having just completed his first year studying mathematics at Oxford University, Harvey Daniel of the group Dog Is Dead, decided to drop out of university to follow a music career. He describes his choice as “definitely a case of one or the other”.

He admits he went to university to broaden his horizons, rather than work towards a career as a mathematician. “I’m thrilled that I made the decision I did. This is where my heart is.”

Universities lay great stress on employability and transferable skills – so it’s a shame they don’t take students’ enthusiasm for music more seriously.

If you take a look at student union websites, it’s quite clear that the little decent live music there is out there is swamped by sports clubs and fancy dress club nights out things like Miss UZ or Miss Universities. A cultural itch remains unscratched, while girls at university-organised club nights are being encouraged to dress in less and less.

Promoting live music would be an obvious way to shift the spotlight from binge drinking and lad culture and focus on something more positive. The University of Zimbabwe’s, Faculty of Education, by hosting the JahPrayzah gig this week is showing the way regarding what ought to be done on campuses in this harsh economic environment.

Before the event Jah Prayzah will appear on campus to sign autographs and take pictures with some of the students.

Evelyn Nyatanga, a medical student had this to say,

“I am looking forward to Saturday. I have always liked Jah Prayzah’s music but due to pressure of work in my studies, I have not had the opportunity to see him in concert.

“This is my best chance of seeing him and I hope I will get a chance to talk to him. He is simply great.”

Another student, Susan Mbanje, studying for a Masters degree in sociology commented, ” I was at the HICC on March 6 where Jah Prayzah performed before Zahara and Mafikizolo. If I am allowed to be honest, he outperformed all the groups that were performing that night.

“I am going to see if he will repeat this on Saturday. That many gives us hope that there is a future in Zimbabwean music!”

Dr Mpofu, a lecturer in the Faculty of Education at UZ making comments about the forthcoming show remarked: “I am thrilled to be meeting Jah Prayzah for the first time in my life.

I have heard so many good things about him, but have never met him. Now it’s my chance to see him as we play host to him”.

Source : The Herald