Beggar on a beach of gold

ON June 4 this year, Willom Tight — born Willbroad Muponda — was on cloud nine as his long-awaited fifth studio album “Manisfesto” looked set to hit shop shelves.

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Willom and Speedy

Willom and Speedy

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This is no ordinary album.

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It features about 10 of Africa’s finest artistes, including the Mansa of Mali, Salif Keita.

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Then the first single off that album — “Money”, featuring Nigerian star Runtown Gallardo — never saw the light of the day.

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Willom Tight and Runtown’s fans, MTN subscribers and those on the iTunes platforms, as well intended distributors of the music, began the long wait.

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They are still waiting.

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A court challenge pitting Willom’s record label Shamiso Music and Entertainment, and South African music industry players blocked the release.

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Over two years of work, which saw the “Ndinoda Wangu” singer get into studios with Speedy of Bongo Maffin, Uhuru, Erick Paliani (Malawi) and Lando (Swaziland) is in limbo.

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Not one note, line or beat from the album has been released. It sits forlorn in a studio somewhere.

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Willom does not look like the star who flew in and out of Zimbabwe as he put this grand work of art together.

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He lives in the low-income suburb of Tafara just outside Harare, and rarely moves about because he does not have money.

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Willom does not even own a mobile phone; the only way to contact him is through his musician son, Gary, or his wife.

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Any wonder why he is dejected?

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WILLOM TIGHT

WILLOM TIGHT

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“I think there is something wrong with me. Maybe even some evil spirits blocking my way. I did my part, spent up to 12 hours in the studio at a time, away from my family, in the hope that light would shine at the end of the tunnel, but it looks like this will not be,” says Willom.

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“I know I am sitting on a goldmine but there is nothing I can do about it. I will let the professionals handle those details. I have to be patient and believe that the darkest hour is just before dawn.”

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Due to the complex nature of the court case and his own inability to stay up to date with goings-on in South Africa, Willom has no idea when the sun will shine again.

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“Ini handichaziva ini zvese zvirimumaoko aGilbert (I don’t know what to do, everything is being handled by Gilbert),” sighs Willom.

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Gilbert Muvavarirwa is the Shamiso Music and Entertainment boss who in 2013 made Willom Tight one of the record label’s first signings.

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Willom — and those looking forward to the album’s release — might not have to wait much longer.

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The record label uploaded a Facebook post last week saying: “It’s been a long legal battle, the court case was finally ruled in favour of Shamiso Music and Entertainment. Sorry for the delay in releasing ‘Manifesto’, shortly we will be releasing the album.”

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Muvavarirwa, who says he has loved Zimbabwean music for well over a decade and is a banker based in South Africa, will not give a launch date, hinting that things were “complicated”.

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READ MORE: GARY TIGHT FEEDS FAMILY

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“Just know that the court case delayed everything. There were certain conditions and I had to sign, some agreements against disclosure of certain information,” said Muvavarirwa in a telephone interview.

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Muvavarirwa adds: “You see when you get to a level that we have reached, so many people will try to stop you. But we have not just Willom’s album coming out but four albums. They are all on another level. These albums are going to change a lot of things. . .

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“Music has to make business sense. Internationally you do not just release music anyhow, you wait. Platforms that sell music have already ordered their music for Christmas, hazvingobude (you don’t just release), it doesn’t make business sense especially after making massive investments like we have done.”

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Muvavarirwa believes the days of Zimbabwe having “just one person representing the country internationally” are over.

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Willom and Salif

Willom and Salif

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“Zimbabwe has never seen or experienced what is coming. The people we are working with vakaita zvechirombe ndezvavo, it’s up to them. This is a game changer. Right now I’m like the National Arts Council, taking Zimbabwean music to another level, using my own resources. The days of having just one person representing the country in music internationally are over.

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“Even the writing of the music is different. I’m going to do in entertainment what Strive (Masiyiwa) has done with Econet,” says Muvavarirwa, adding “ragga can’t take us to where we want to go, it’s the wrong genre”.