Wendy Nyakurerwa
\n“HELLO darlings, how are you?”
\nThat was Sophie Ndaba or better still, Queen Moroka’s unmistakable signature greeting when she recently visited a clothing store along Harare’s First Street. As the saccharine voice of the South African actress serenaded her fans who were jostling to catch a glimpse of her, she lit up the clothing store with her charisma.

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Her perfect outfit – a soft mesh pink gown that had a loose strap dabbed over her shoulder was complimented by a warm, contagious smile and a well-made up face.

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Queen, as she is affectionately known by her legion fans due to her bubbly role in “Generations”, a South African soap, was equally effervescent away from the small screen during her recent visit to Zimbabwe for some fashion extravaganza.

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She would smile, greet, and pose for a quick photo with lucky fans. A conversation would follow, albeit very briefly, and then she would sign an autograph at the bottom corner of her photograph.

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And just in case someone might be wondering what criteria was being used to determine whether a fan was lucky or not; well; this type of luck was determined by the fan’s willingness to spend some money at this glam and not-so-cheap department store. Yes, one could only meet Queen at a small cost, with the clothing store cashing in of course.

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But judging from the stampede that accompanied her arrival in Harare’s First Street, that arrangement made a lot of sense. The whole street came to a standstill as the queen of drama glided into the shop. She attracted attention from different sections of society, from the well-to-do business executives to the infamous vendors who had to abandon their wares for those few moments.

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The municipal police could have had a good day in office had they taken advantage of the lax behaviour of the vendors but it seemed even they were too hypnotised by Queen to mind them.

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She was a few minutes late for this particular session and was quick to apologise, automatically earning even more respect from this writer who distastes personalities who think that they have the right to keep everyone waiting and show up late for events. Besides, Queen’s explanation made a lot of sense.

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“Sorry for keeping you waiting my darlings. I had to grab something to eat, you know we big women have to eat something,” she explained into the shop’s PA system, meticulously melting the hearts of those in attendance. They smiled or chuckled as a way of acknowledging her apology.
\nQueen would throw in Shona words here and there with her skewed South African accent, much to the fascination of her fans.

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“I would like to say makadii to you all. This is my kumusha ka, ndakakurira kunoku ndakapinda chikoro kunoku so l’m very excited to be here.”
\nBorn 43 years ago in Soweto, Sophie attained her secondary education in Zimbabwe before moving back to South Africa to establish her career in the arts industry, first as a model and then as an actress. She made her television debut with the series “Class of ‘92” then had supporting roles in several South African film productions before literally hitting gold in “Generations” where she took up the role of Queen Moroka. For 21 years, she wooed her fans on the small screen until recently when she was dismissed from the show following misunderstandings over salary negotiations, alongside 15 other actors.

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Understandably, the Zimbabwean-bred artiste misses this lovely country called Zimbabwe.
\n“You know l grew up here. I miss Zimbabwe, l miss this beautiful country,” she said with nostalgia written all over her pretty face when this publication finally managed to steal a few moments with her, away from the hustle and bustle of the fashion extravaganza.

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She took time to disclose her opinion on the local arts industry.
\n“Zimbabwean arts industry . . . I think you need to grow. Your ZBC has got a major role to play in building the arts sector,” the outspoken beauty told The Sunday Mail Leisure without flinching.

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Walking away from that photo booth, this writer thought long and hard. Sophie could not have said it any better. In fact, as it stands the Zimbabwean arts sector does not qualify to be an industry as it is not contributing to the economy. It is not even able to financially sustain the artistes who toil late into the night. Several renowned musicians have died paupers despite the fame and glamour they would have enjoyed at the peak of their stardom.

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That’s food for thought from the Queen herself, just be careful not to choke on it.