Zimbabwe’s library of music genres is a diverse as one can imagine. Year-in-year-out, hits have been churned out. Some of these hits sent revellers into unbridled frenzies while others have made fans more spiritual or rather emotional.
This great journey has seen some artistes come and go. Stars shining one day and only to fade the next day.
For female musicians choosing such a career path has a price tag to it. Not many have fully paid this price or at least walked this journey till its end, if ever there is an end to it.
Fungisai Zvakavapano-Mashave is undoubtedly a household name. Her fame and fortune is reflected in her discography. But along the way she made decisions in her career that could have divided her traditional fans while building a new fan base. In this trade they call it controversy. Her crossover from the traditional gospel music to playing a genre that has been mainly associated with the secular culture raised eyebrows for many.
With fourteen albums to her name, Fungisai has tried to thrive in the music industry and has done great work fighting for her space as a female musician.
At one point she was misjudged by the society when she had a dancehall duet with Killer T titled “Vanondibatirana” despite the song being a hit.
However despite all that, Fungisai remains one of the most celebrated female musicians in the country. Sharing her 19 year music journey with BT Life, Fungisai said after realising that nothing comes on a silver platter in the music industry, she had to take decisions that made her unpopular because of the socio-cultural barriers that deny women the same opportunities naturally.
“My 19 years of experience on the music scene has been a mixed journey and I come to terms with the reality that women don’t get it on a silver platter across the board. Socio- cultural barriers deny women the same opportunities naturally. In my field, one has got to be several times better than their male counterparts to enjoy half the attention and appreciation the male counterparts get,” she said.
“Women are often called names because they try to be different as they fight for space in the creative sector.
“Women are often insulted, butchered and battered for doing the same things men get applauded for. It is even more traumatising when one is an innovative person, a trend setter and a leader,” she said.
Fungisai understands that there are some norms and systems that are not worth challenging as it will take forever.
“Such talent in women is met with so much ridicule and disapproval such that a lot of them would rather settle for less, so they fit in our society. The only advantage I find in Gospel music is the ministerial part of it, which is a supernatural gift from God,” adds
the gospel singer.
For her, passion for ministry keeps her pushing, otherwise what is on the ground are discouraging.
“I have watched a lot of women coming on board with so much zeal, others winning 3- 5 awards at a time only to find themselves discouraged by the reality on the ground. I have been around long enough to see the rise and retreat of great female talent on the Zimbabwean music scene. As for me, Forward in Faith is my strategy, hence I am not discouraged,” she says.
She challenged female gospel musicians to stand firm and fight for their space in the music genre.
“It is not about me but female musicians must stand firm so that they claim top gongs and honour in the music industry. As for me I will continue with the fight and I stand firm in God’s calling and there is no going back. Currently he has given me six songs which I am packaging as the Ancient Prophetic voice. And I believe God will carry it to the intended audience.”
As she matures and continues to produce more songs ranging from club anthems and wedding jams, its everyone’s guess, how her music will evolve in the coming years.