Gospel Fes­ti­val lights up Gwanda

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - En­ter­tain­ment - From Melissa Mpofu in Gwanda

AMAZ­ING gospel bliss!! This best sums up the just-ended Gwanda Gospel Mu­sic Fes­ti­val.

This was not an or­di­nary con­cert as it was world class – typ­i­cal Dur­ban July setup with all the glitz and glam, VVIP mar­quee, mov­ing lights on stage, preview mon­i­tors and pro­jec­tor screens, trans­par­ent stage decks, haz­ers and smoke ma­chines as well as a pow­er­ful sound sys­tem – all in Gwanda, at a gospel gath­er­ing.

It was clear – the or­gan­iser and founder of the three-day mu­si­cal event – Jus­tice Maphosa was a well trav­elled man of high stan­dards who had done his re­search thor­oughly and was pas­sion­ate about the con­cert and wanted to put Mata­bele­land South on the map.

The South Africa-based, Gwanda-bred busi­ness­man sim­ply or­gan­ised the gospel fete which ended yes­ter­day to get the na­tion to gather around spir­i­tu­al­ity.

To en­sure Gwanda was lit, Maphosa had to re­fur­bish the Phe­land­aba sta­dium, which has be­come the home of the fes­ti­val, called on the ser­vices of South Africa’s lead­ing sup­pli­ers of live event tech­ni­cal ser­vices and equip­ment, MCG Pro­duc­tions and erected a mar­quee for the com­fort of VIP guests. To make the event even more ex­cit­ing, Maphosa ar­ranged a four kilo­me­tre fire­works dis­play that brought the min­ing town to a stand­still. The colour­ful fire­works dis­play went on for about 30 min­utes on the two days.

Ini­tially when it was re­ported that 90 tonnes of equip­ment was be­ing brought into the coun­try from South Africa for the event, many were dis­ap­pointed ques­tion­ing why Maphosa had no con­fi­dence in lo­cal sup­pli­ers. But af­ter at­tend­ing the event, naysay­ers were left with egg on their faces as the level of pro­fes­sion­al­ism by MCG was on an­other level – a level most lo­cal pro­duc­tion com­pa­nies are yet to reach. Maphosa said he had called on the tried and tested com­pany be­cause he wanted the show to be noth­ing short of amaz­ing. “This event is very im­por­tant to me. I just wanted to do some­thing peo­ple think is not pos­si­ble – have a world class gospel show in Gwanda just for peo­ple to praise and wor­ship. I’m glad we man­aged to do so,” he said af­ter the fes­ti­val. Now in its se­cond edi­tion, the gospel fes­ti­val fea­tured per­for­mances by Re­becca Ma­lope, Hlengiwe Mh­laba, Ju­dith Moyo, Knowl­edge Nki­wane, Lu­sanda Spir­i­tual Group, ZCC Mbungo Stars, Donny Ng­wenyama, Zim­praise, Dumi Mkok­stad, Andile KaMa­jola, Mathias Mhere as well as Charles and Olivia Charamba. On Fri­day, the first day of the three-day fes­ti­val, artistes took to the stage and per­formed as if they were at a jam ses­sion. Their slots were short and sweet – ap­prox­i­mately 20 min­utes each. Even though the per­for­mances were short, artistes like Mhere gave a good ac­count of them­selves, forc­ing or­gan­is­ers of the event to give him a longer prime time slot the next day. And the next day, he wowed fans again with his gospel mu­sic which has a sun­gura vibe. As ex­pected, all the SA artistes were on point with the likes of Mh­laba get­ting into a trance on stage. But be­fore the mu­si­cal events, Po­lice Com­mis­sioner-Gen­eral Au­gus­tine Chi­huri min­is­tered for more than four hours start­ing at about 1PM, two-days in a row sup­ported by pas­tors from the Brethren-in­Christ Church. He preached about love, tol­er­ance and unity. Yes­ter­day, all the artistes at­tended a church ser­vice at Gwanda BICC.

What made the event more spe­cial was the at­ten­dance. On all days, the sta­dium was filled to the rafters with peo­ple from all walks of life. Among the VVIP guests were Xhosa chiefs from South Africa, Min­is­ter of State for Mata­bele­land South – Abed­nico Ncube, Chi­huri, Tourism and Hos­pi­tal­ity In­dus­try Min­is­ter – Wal­ter Mzembi and his deputy An­nasta­cia Ndlovu, Se­na­tor Chief Musarurwa, Gwanda Mayor – Knowl­edge Ndlovu and Zim­babwe Tourism Au­thor­ity boss Karikoga Kaseke.

It was quite a fam­ily af­fair as young chil­dren were also present, though their par­ents seemed a bit reck­less as some pe­ri­od­i­cally went miss­ing.

Se­cu­rity was more than enough with po­lice of­fi­cers at all cor­ners of the ground. More had been de­ployed to stand right in front of the stage to pro­tect the artistes es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing there were vis­i­tors from South Africa.

The part­ner­ship be­tween Maphosa and the tourism min­istry and ZTA paid off as all SA artistes were al­lowed into the coun­try with no has­sles com­pared to last year when Ma­lope who was ac­tu­ally meant to be the main at­trac­tion – failed to at­tend the event af­ter fail­ing to se­cure a work per­mit. As a re­sult, an ex­cited Ma­lope apol­o­gised to fans in Gwanda for let­ting them down last year say­ing her fail­ure to make it to the event was be­yond her con­trol.

As a re­sult, Min­is­ter Mzembi took to the stage to an­nounce that his min­istry and ZTA would fa­cil­i­tate the smooth pro­cess­ing of Ma­lope’s pa­per­work each time she wants to per­form in Zim­babwe to avoid her be­ing turned away.

“Re­becca, you can come back to Zim­babwe any­time now be­cause the per­mit is­sues have been sorted. Now that my min­istry and ZTA are in­volved in this event, there won’t be any such is­sues any­more,” he said.

Scenes of the fest as cap­tured by Melissa Mpofu

Hlengiwe Mh­laba

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