Nyathi, Chirikure celebrate life in the arts

Two of Zimbabwe’s poetic luminaries, Albert Nyathi and Chirikure Chirikure, have come up with an album that celebrates their lives over more than two decades in the arts industry.

Albert Nyathi
Albert Nyathi

The two have known each other since their time as undergraduate students at the University of Zimbabwe in the 80s. The new album was mooted two years ago and was meant to mark their 50th birthdays – but took more time than anticipated.

“This is landmark thing to happen in the artistic landscape. These guys were celebrating their lives as well as their careers,” their manager Tavonga “TK” Mafundikwa explained to The Zimbabwean.

Nyathi said he appreciated the history he shared with Chirikure and paid homage to the latter’s versatility, saying he was more than a poet. “I grew up with him. He is actually an actor. I have watched him perform and he is one of the best,” Nyathi said.

“I don’t want anyone to compare us because I think Chirikure has his own style and Albert has his own style,” he said. “It’s difficult to explain but I think I’m more vigorous because I come from the Nguni traditional praise poetry. Chirikure has something subtle and slow. There is a very interesting contrast. I think it complements and its fun,” he said.

The album is titled Connected. Although they have a wide range of experience in various genres Chirikure and Nyathi are known primarily for their poetry.

“The collaboration is basically a celebration of the long journey we have travelled as artists. By the time we left university we were realising that this was our line, we lived in the same neighbourhood for a while but we never got the chance to do a joint production,” explained Chirikure, who has penned songs for the likes of Oliver Mtukudzi and the late Chiwoniso Mararire.

“This album is one of the highlights of my career. I have enjoyed looking at the recording process, the composition process, and the team-building – bringing different artists together and switching languages,” he said. “It’s a big one to live this long to have the opportunity to share the energy with Albert and all our friends after all the years”.

Mafundikwa said the album, which includes Shona, Ndebele, Setswana and Sesotho, was about diversity and inclusivity. “We are merging these diverse cultural persuasions together to come up with a solid product that is going to embrace the different cultures that we have in this country,” he said.

“We had hoped to have Chirikure doing Ndebele and I doing some Shona but his Ndebele is atrocious,” Nyathi joked. He said such a project was important for our society. “This country can be better if we all appreciate each other’s cultures, rather than hating because we are different. If we were not different life would be boring,” he added.

Chirikure said he would leave it to society to judge his and Nyathi’s legacy. “As an individual you look at your template and say I have covered these miles and these are the landmarks in my life. We started way back when poetry was nothing. To get the opportunity, while we are still alive, to put all our energy and passion into one album is quite something,” he said.

Post published in: Arts

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