HomeStandard StyleEdutainment Mix: Celebrating of Africanism: Wena Nsundu album review

Edutainment Mix: Celebrating of Africanism: Wena Nsundu album review

By Raymond Millagre Langa
Zimbabwe recently we commemorated culture week, which was all about taking everyone back to their African identity and heritage.  Some of us that were interested in this day actually expressed our Africaness through dress, cuisine, dance and song.

My only qualm is that celebrations of the culture month are a seasonal phenomenon, yet daily we must celebrate our African identity.  Seasonal celebration of culture month has led to the erosion of our culture, which has negatively impacted on the up-bringing of our youth who are more attracted to foreign cultures.

Artists remain central figures in the enhancement of the restoration of Africa’s cultural values and the African identity which is also the basis for the fulfillment of development.

One of the artists that promote African identity in Bulawayo is Majoer Prodi, whose real name is Pride Khangelani Mhlanga.  He is one of the young and energetic modern artists from Bulawayo who are using music and dance as a tool to promote African identity and culture.

Majoer Prodi re-ignites African pride on the youth. As someone fascinated with local music, I had the priviledge to meet Majoer Prodi who was also a Star Brite finalist to sample his Wena Wensundu album, which he released on April 16 at a hyped launch in the city.

He said the title Wena Wensundu  (you black person) means all of us. Majoer Brodi’s album traces a forgotten heirloom, African dignity, spirituality, our roots and culture.

The word Wensundu is an IsiNdebele term which evokes representation of the black skin in the image of the African who has the Melanin pigment.

Unfortunately, in our context many have been brainwashed into the idea of looking at being light skinned being a measure of beauty.  Some blacks have even gone to the extent of using skin lightening creams and pills to change the colour of their skins, exposing themselves to skin cancer.

Others buy expensive European wigs to look ‘attractive’.

“I seek to challenge the stigma that our African identity is not beautiful,” he said.

The album Wena Wensundu by Majoer Brodi captures the unweaving energy that has been compressed for the longest of ages, when the artist questions and interrogates the different social dynamics that have affected the mental and physical health of the youth.

Many musicians these days sing about love, money and sexually graphic topics; but listening to this album by Majoer Prodi takes the voice of the edutainer to the youth, urging them to revive their roots and culture.

In his songs, Majoer Prodi highlights that “igniting our cultural identity as youths does not mean being outdated, but it means embracing aspects of modernity, yet mixing them with the aesthetics of our culture.

I think everyone has a unique cultural identity and with globalization, we can now learn even more about other cultures. The important thing is to be rooted in one’s own identity and accept the uniqueness that we have as Africans.

The album Wena Wensundu contains 18 songs with four being regional collaborations with other artists from countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, South Africa and Malawi. It also has familiar rendered sounds such as Digong, Kwaito, Kizomba, Afro Punk, and is also fused with modern genres such as Amapiano, Hip hop and trap.

As a Bulawayo artiste, Majoer Prodi in one of his songs titled Senzangakhona, which features Daak Knight sings praises to Senzangakhona, a prominent chief of the Zulu clan who was the father to Shaka Zulu. Seemingly, this song is the one that really defines Majoer Prodi as an artiste as it is a song where he seeks to get people to know his bloodline.

My favorite song in the album though is Masports.  The song touches me as it discusses the issue of the bad things that often happen on the streets.  It exposes how our leaders in the community have let us down by failing to act on the plight of the youth where teenagers are at risk of losing their culture due to the influence of the internet, which can also teach negativity and bad habits.

In the song Masports, Majoer Prodi also features two teenage artistes; Philo Cliff and Mckhoi, who play a role in encouraging their peers to be aware and proud of their culture.

Majoer Prodi’s album is actually based on social commentary which remains a central entity in the production of music that has an edutaining effect.

The song Vele Vele is a very sensitive acoustic and spiritually motivational story of the project.  It salutes all the people who made the musical project possible. It features “Reilo Veikk” who is one underground guitarist in Bulawayo.  He adds the soul to the rhythm in the song which elicits strong emotions and depth.

The album Philo Cliff and Mckhoi, was produced by Siya P at his backyard 1106 studio.

Majoer Prodi decried lack of airplay of his music on the radio, a huge challenge faced by several other artistes.

“The music industry is a challenging field, one needs to be goal oriented as a lot of money is needed to invest and cultivate the musical talent.  Artistes have to do other things to make money while also pushing their art. In an economically stable environment I would have been successful.  But this is Zimbabwe, and I am still fighting on and hoping for the best.

“I wish that radio stations could play the songs which I have submitted to them without me having to pay bribes for airplay.  Royalties must also be paid to artistes,” Majoer Prodi said.

The biggest lesson that we learn from Majoer Prodi’s Wena Wensundu album is that music can be used as a tool to stimulate African identity and pride.

This therefore needs support from different stakeholders in the music industry. Different stakeholders in the industry like the ministry of Arts, Sport and Culture, the National Arts Council, Arts organisations, non-governmental organisations, radio stations and deejays, and sponsors must support the young artist who has a positive message to other young people in Africa.

It is very sad that many young artistes are struggling simply to get airplay and to promote their art.  If artistic talent is not encouraged or promoted, other countries will continue to produce musical talent and sell their culture through music, while Zimbabwe’s culture will be eroded by other cultures simple because there is no promotion of musical talent.

Culture month should be an opportunity to promote artistic work that emphasises on our Africanicity and heritage.

  •  Raymond Millagre Langa is a musician, orator, poet, writer and founder of Indebo Edutainment Trust.  Follow Raymond Millagre Langa on Facebook, Instagram @Millagre Ray L, email: indeboedutainmenttrust@gmail.com and/or millagrepapaito@gmail.com

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