Fidas Sibanda: Determined to see Zim music succeed

“If music be the food of love, play on; Give me excess of it.” So wrote William Shakespeare, the poet and playwright widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language.

Fidas Sibanda: Born to make music.
Fidas Sibanda: Born to make music.

He died in 1616 but his philosophy still reigns in the life of Fidas Sibanda (39).Born at Empandeni in Matabeleland South, Sibanda has dedicated his time to making hits, entertaining the crowds and teaching budding musicians both the art of music and how to be successful as an artist.

Popular as a gospel musician and trainer here, Fidas began as a stage actor in his homeland 14 years ago. “I began to take it professionally when I became a member of Bazooka performing arts – a drama group that was based in my rural area in the 90s,” he said in a recent interview.

Save for a selected few performers, incentives in the arts industry are generally minuscule in Zimbabwe and when the economy virtually collapsed, Sibanda shouldered his jacket and joined the great trek to South Africa. A few menial jobs put him in good financial stead to re-launch his lifetime dream of living, eating, sleeping and drinking music.

The turn of the millennium heralded a turn in his fortunes as he teamed up with celebrated wedding songs hit-maker ZenzoBhekimpiloSiziba, ofNtombana fame, to record his first act.

“In 2000, we recorded the album ‘Abathandazi’, which gave me a first taste of the studio and a feel of what the world of music is like, but that project did not last because some impatient members of our group left to start something else,” he said.

He formed a new bandAbathunjiweyo, which came up with another gospel album, “BathatheNkosi” in 2004, but disaster hit again and members left in their droves.

He refused to give up and formedOfakazi in 2005, which had three members then, including Sibanda as its leader and director.

All the group’s albums – SihambanoJesu (2005), Ujesuuyeza (2007), Ziyezainsuku (2008) and Abangcwele (2010) – have made a mark in the industry.

“If I had been a quitter, or someone taking chances, I would have given up at the first knock, but I soldiered on because I knew what I wanted and that won the day for me,” he triumphantly explained.

When members left, he recruited new ones, when people told him he made mistakes in his singing, he corrected and when deals failed to come by, he promoted and marketed his own works until they were appreciated by many. “I am in this industry because I really love it, not because I want the money and the fame. That should be the driving force for everyone– choosing to do something you love, something you are talented in and then doing it to perfection so that critics are put in their place.”

He offers his facilities and experience to train and advise other artists. Elmar Ndlovu and Mepson Dube have passed through his hands to form their own groups – Izazi Zomoy’ongcwele and Amakholwaka Krestu respectively.

“I love good music and that is why I have given time to training and advising budding stars for free. Instead of young artists coming to me, I have taken time to going to them because I am determined to see our music reach international levels. Mine is not a personal struggle, but that of giving our country full recognition through music.”

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