Gender discrimination and gender segregation have posed considerable barriers to women’s musical talent.
They often face verbal and physical harassment when performing their songs in public and suffer withering criticism due to their sometimes eccentric dressing.
They, virtually at all the times, are not allowed to be themselves, rather are expected to tow limiting conventional lines drawn by male chauvinists to keep them into submission.
Repeatedly female artists, especially those who do gospel music, have decried the lack of opportunities for many singers in desperate need of platforms to exhibit their skills as top promoters often opted for their established male counterparts.
A good number of them are unhappy with music promoters who they say either sideline them completely when they organise shows or give them raw deals compared to their male performers.
Yet, these famous female gospel singers can enthral audiences and congregations alike with their passionate, and powerful voices. They are the ladies whose songs bring life to the gospel, with soaring emotion.
Through their inspirational lyrics and courage, these women organise and energise masses of people, and, as they do, they dispute any sexist notions that women cannot be effective creatives and leaders.
Now, presented with this plight of all female musicians, a group of local gospel singers realised that they stand a chance to circumvent this gender conundrum through consolidation.
Therefore, they came together and formed a union called the Zimbabwe Female Gospel Association (ZIFGA).
In their own words, they “are a group of female gospel artists who came together to form the association and develop female artists to pursue their carriers, in the same way, making music life-changing and making it a more sustainable source of income in their livelihoods and communities.”
They also act as a promoter and funder of the members, from recording throughout to live shows and other various activities.
By the time of the organisation’s launch at the grand Jameson Hotel in the capital Harare last Friday (Sept 15), ZIFGA boasted a membership of over sixty artists and affirmed that the numbers of those joining have been rapidly growing since its outset.
Speaking at the colourful ceremony which was attended by high-profile figures, including Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Deputy Minister Energy Mutodi and Barbara Chikosi – better known as Mama Red Rose – ZIFGA’s head honcho, Mharidzo ‘Mharie’ Hetisani, said that the initiative launch registered a paradigm shift in the history of the arts industry in the country.
“Today is a historical day in arts industry in Zimbabwe as we’re introducing a new era in musical industry. I’ve been carrying this baby for about three years and we’re happy that today we have delivered our baby.
“Our aim is to spread the good news of Jesus Christ through music, holding gospel shows countrywide.
“Our vision is to unite women in gospel arts and empower them with ideas on how to spread the gospel without constraints, encouraging, building each other in the gospel ministry,” she said.
Mharidzo went further to say that apart from just being a representative of women in the music industry, the organisation will also pursue charitable endeavours.
“We will be engaging in charity work as an organisation, taking care of less privileged children and all those in need. We are looking forward to be running some projects as ZFGA to sustain our charity work and… shows as we will be supporting our little sisters who will be engaging in the music industry.
“As an organisation, we are looking forward to be working with all women in different sectors. We are women and we should unite and fight against the challenges that we face. I want to call all women in music to come and join us and speak in one language,” said Mharie.
Giving a key address at the launch, Pastor Rudo Rwizi, a musician with three albums and a cleric with ZAOGA FIF Ministries, applauded ZFGA initiative and emphasised the need for unification among women.
“It is true that there is power in unity, especially for women. Women are well-known for disunity. This is why when women date the same man, they fight each other, instead of uniting to fight the man who had caused it.
“Women have the audacity to sit down to gossip about another woman, assassinating her character.
“Even if there are elections, whether at your local church or committee when we want to vote for a chairperson with no gender exceptions, women are the first to vote for a man, where there are other women… We are well-known for not supporting each other.
“But we are here to say well done and congratulations for coming up with such a thing (ZFGA).”
She went on to implore fellow gospel artists to support each other by buying tickets to their shows and buy their music to support.
Deputy Minister Energy Mutodi also took on the podium to admonish piracy and said that the government, under its leader President Mnangagwa, is pursuing various initiatives to empower women, the establishment of the Zimbabwe Women Bank being one of them.
Mr Mutodi, who is also a musician, said that he is in support of ZIFGA and bought Vakunda VeZion’s latest single (a thirty-three female group under ZFGA) for $1 000.
The single was produced by Blessing Masanga and features Tete Munyaradzi Charamba, Mharidzo, Edwick Duri, Tapiwa Murawu, Brenda Moyo, Precious K, Agatha Murudzwa, Roe Makawa, Forget Kuweyo, Lindani Mkambachaza, and Idah Mangwiro, among others.
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