HARARE – Music superstar and Unicef Goodwill Ambassador Oliver Mtukudzi will headline this year’s edition of the annual Gwanda Gospel Festival (GGF) which will run from September 1 to 3.
The 64-year-old musician, who will celebrate his 65th birthday in September, will share the stage with artistes such as Zimpraise, Mahendera Brothers, Mbungo Stars, Tolakele and Knowledge Nkiwane.
“This year, we have got Oliver Mtukudzi among an array of musicians who are billed to perform on the weekend of September 1 to 3,” said festival founder and sponsor, Justice Maphosa.
Last year, the festival used Tuku’s soulful song, Hear Me Lord (I Am Feeling Low), as the signature tune during the three-day event.
Maphosa added that the fact that Tuku has made a mark in his long career mostly on the back of music not synonymous with gospel was never a subject.
“ . . . Mtukudzi, in the song Hear Me Lord, which is part of the reason why we have billed him to perform as the headline act, shows that he is not only in that genre; he is indeed a Christian in his mind and in his heart.
“It comes across like that. And if you ask him, the way he explains it in that song, he says all of us go through trials and tribulations. And at that point you realise . . . this is a meeting (Gwanda Gospel Festival), an appointment with God,” said the founder of South Africa-headquartered Bigtime Strategic Group.
He added that all artistes need divine guidance.
“You understand that everybody, whether you are in mbira, rhumba, or whether you are in kwaito or whatever kind of genre, deep down in your heart it’s printed anybody needs God.
“And people need God much more when they hit trouble and we are saying let’s not wait for that time to need God when we hit trouble,” he said.
Since its launch in 2015 GGF, has attracted the interest of both Gwanda residents and diverse Zimbabweans drawn from different provinces.
Maphosa has been encouraged by the increase in the number of people who have attended the last two editions.
The South Africa-based businessman is determined to make the gospel festival a key event in line with his long-held desire of uniting people through song and dance in the town he grew up.
“Gwanda is an altar now. We want Gwanda to be the altar for the whole of Zimbabwe where the whole of Zimbabwe converge for free.
“We are bringing the best instruments, we are bringing the best fireworks and we are bringing the best musicians across the genres.
“We are trying to say for those people (like Tolakele, Nkiwane and Judith all from Gwanda) where else will they be seen by 30 000 or 40 000 people? Where else will they be seen on national television by millions of people, the answer is nowhere.
“So we are providing an opportunity where every child of God comes to this altar. We don’t care where you come from. You get in for free and you worship our very same own God who is for all of us,” said Maphosa.