World-renowned Sculptor, musician cum Businessman and Zimbabwe African Roots Music maestro, Bryn Taurai Mteki aka Sekurutau has fired salvo at fellow musicians and music promoters for killing the industry through uncouth means.
Sekurutau lambasted music promoters for exploiting the artistes whom he said were cheapening themselves by playing for little or nothing and pirating their own music instead of eking out a living from it.
“Music like any other profession is a business. On the case of Paradzai Mesi, I like his music but as musicians we are saying let us not be exploited by the so called fly by-night promoters who want to maximize their beer sales and profiteer at our expense,” Sekurutau said.
He continued: “Through the BrynBrands Commodities, we can help other artistes with start-ups for their small business for instance tuck-shops and small grocery shops rather than be continuously exploited.
“Let’s not dig our own graves and let’s not allow anyone to put the final nail to the coffin which we are finding ourselves in.
“Let’s take control of our fate, future of our children, future of our music, future of our national heritage. On this note I’m calling on Government and all stakeholders to look into this as a matter of urgency.”
Sekurutau said the younger generation of musicians should build on the legacy of pioneers among them Ambuya Stella Chiweshe, Oliver Mtukudzi, Thomas Mapfumo, Leonard Dembo, Chiwoniso Maraire and John Chibadura.
“The whole idea is to protect our legacy. How do you expect to perform before a non-paying audience week in week out then expect to earn a living?
“In Machipisa there is a venue where musicians are made to perform before a non-paying audience but just across the road there is Mushandirapamwe Hotel and Club Saratoga which are struggling to make fans pay for shows because they are used to attending free gigs.
“It will not work. Given the rate at which this is going I believe no one will pay for any musical shows in Harare just because fans know where they are entertained for free,” he said.
Sekurutau said music promoters who were in the habit of holding free shows were against black empowerment.
“Pressure groups like AAG have always talked about creating employment and black empowerment but musicians are being disempowered by having non-paying crowds,” he said.
The “Ndinongovhaira” singer alleged there was also serious drug trafficking and alcohol abuse at the free shows.
“Apart from music exploitation the side effects to the general community are even worse off, since they are promoting a lot of promiscuity, drug trafficking, underage drinking, thefts robberies etc.
“As I grew up in Highfield we used to pay for performing arts and there was age restriction but nowadays with open air hangouts like Joy Centre there is little or no control at all,” he said.
He said music lovers would pay their way to attend Clive Malunga’s Jenaguru which was held at Gwanzura Stadium.
He added that the culture of playing music for nothing should end and that it was about time musicians stop performing for a plate of sadza or beer.
“It is time that we rise to the occasion and make music more profitable like any business as well as command the respect that we deserve as masters of art and not charity cases,” Sekurutau said.
He said the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe should be in the forefront of spearheading a new movement against exploitation of artists.
“I am glad that Dr Oliver Mtukudzi is part of the new NACZ board.
On the issue of piracy, Sekurutau scoffed at artists who think they were gaining mileage and popularity from it.
“Whilst some artists put it on record that piracy had brought fame and fortune to them through unauthorized distribution of music, for me piracy has posed the greatest threat to the well-being of artists.
“There was a time I wanted to buy Gramma Records, but let me put the record straight, I am no longer going to do that unless some serious considerations are done.
“The idea of buying Gramma Records was meant to be a rescue plan that I had when I was overseas that one day I shall return to my beloved motherland Zimbabwe and help my fellow musicians just like what Samuel Eto did with his football academy.
“Piracy has deprived many musicians of their livelihoods from record sales and royalties.
“Some of us decided not to release music from 2004-2008 in protest against piracy.
“If all musicians had joined hands by then stiffer policies were going to be implemented by the Government,” he said.
Sekurutau said he was set to prove his critics wrong who thought he had become a spent force with a new album on the way.
“Ini handipere ivo ndivo vakapera (It’s them who are now spent forces and not me). I am back in the country now taking my number one position. New album is coming soon with a lot of surprises and will keep you posted,” he said.
He argued that there was no way fans would attend shows for free and then be able to buy music.
“It is to my knowledge that no one is paying to watch the musicians and a poultry of between $20 and $150 is being offered to music groups.
“The case in point is Paradzai Mesi who performed with his teenage son for a non-paying audience surely what legacy or inheritance is he leaving behind?” he asked.“In conclusion I will not be silenced until all the musicians are treated fairly and protect our national heritage,” he said that’s my story, I rest my case but the movement has just begun.
Sekurutau who also runs several other businesses through the BrynBrands Group of Companies a vast fast growing business empire which is a subsidiary of Mteki World Art (Private) Limited Group of companies.
Under BrynBrands (Private) Limited Group Of Companies they is , Sekurutau Gallery , Sekurutau World Music, Clothing line Hauz Of Sekurutau, Club Saratog , BryBen Motors, Mana Gold Mining, BrynBrands Supermarkets and Mini Markets, Butcheries, Bottle stores, Take aways and Fast foods Hauz Of Chicken, Hauz Of Pizza , Hauz Of Creamy, Sekurutau Beverages , Sekurutau Transport , Aust-Mteki Foundation, Aust-Mteki Technologies, Real estate BrynBrands Properties , BrynBrands Construction plus new Baby BrynBrands Commodities which specializes in all food Commodities.