Bantuman’s music umbilical chord

Born in Mbizo in 1975, Kwekwe-based musician, music promoter and teacher, Tawanda “Bantuman” Jumo has been supporting a string of music bands in his hometown, including Peter Moyo, by offering his music studio for rehearsals and performances, mostly free of charge. This unsung hero of the Kwekwe arts sector worked closely with Harare based former music promoter Patson “Chipaz” Chimbodza, on countless occasions at his Kwekwe-based studio.

Sneak Peek: Learmore Nyoni

Tawanda Jumo

NewsDay correspondent, Learnmore Nyoni (ND) took time to speak to Tawanda Jumo (TJ) to ascertain the role he has played in Kwekwe arts. Below are excerpts of the interview:

ND: How can you describe your music journey?

TJ: I started performing at talent shows organised by our teachers at Manunure High School. I wrote my first song when I was in Form 3 and I would walk all the way from Mbizo to Amaveni to seek assistance from the legendary Zig Zag band members who were, unfortunately, too busy to entertain me. I, however, did not tire and continued writing songs and did performances at all college functions using dub reggae cassettes during my days as a student at Chinhoyi Technical Teacher’s College, where I studied fabrication engineering.

ND: Was it during that time that you started recording?

TJ: I recorded my first song in 2004 named Thirsty Kirsty, a tribute song to Kirsty Coventry, which became the title track for all ZTV’s coverage of the award winning swimmer’s exploits at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.

I now have two albums to my name, Hondo Dzezvitendero and Take Charge. I also have many singles. But of late, I have been more of a performing artiste instead of a recording one. I am, however, currently working on a new album.

ND: I understand you have also been promoting music in schools?

TJ: I have been developing music talent in Kwekwe schools since 2003, when I registered Duemosteel Entertainment, an arts association, together with (musicians) GoodChild, Frank Skuza, my younger brother, Tafadzwa. Some of the guys I started off with, however, are now late.

In 2004, we did the Kirsty Thirsty song with young artistes and in 2005 we did Manunure Mic Fever 1, which was the first schools urban grooves compilation album produced by Apah Zingoni in my metalwork workshop at Manunure.

ND: Who else was involved in the project?

TJ: The headmaster at Manunure, Mr Nzvenge. I am grateful for the support he rendered, and Masango Matambanadzo for sponsoring the project long before he became an MP. I then had to request from council to use Mbizo Youth Centre to support school children from other schools who were flocking to Manunure as they also wanted to record music.

In 2006, we then did another compilation album called Chipo Ndechangu with pupils from Loreto, Mbizo, Manunure and Kwekwe High Schools and this project was very successful, because many of the songs received a lot of airplay on Power FM, which then was based in Gweru.

ND: How do you rate the success of your talent development initiatives in schools?

TJ: I think it was very successful. We have produced a lot of musicians who are now very established in Zimbabwe, for instance Victor Kunonga’s lead guitarist, Norman Masamba who was part of the Thirsty Kirsty 2004 song and there is also Mapfumo Manase, one of the finest bassists in Zimbabwe.

ND: So, how have you been supporting the arts in Kwekwe?

TJ: Well, I have opened a platform called Kwekwe Podium, which is located at Kwekwe Theatre,where my studio is also based. Kwekwe Podium is open to the public and allows for artistes of all genres to come, interact, perform, rehearse and share notes.

Almost every band in Kwekwe has a product of Bantu Studios and has used the facilities here. I find self-fulfilment in helping needy artistes reach the next level.

I know how it feels to want to achieve something and not have the resources. That is why I open up my studio and PA system to them, mostly free of charge.

I am also one of the key facilitators of the Kwekwe City Council organised Kwekwe Sports & Arts Festival.

ND: What do you think Kwekwe artistes need to do to develop further?

TJ: We need corporate and government support. Government can set up a revolving fund, which may be used to develop one band today then given to the other tomorrow.

I think artistes also need to be professional and develop a brand, because promoters come for those that are known, hence artistes need to make themselves known for them to grow.