BEHIND THE WALLS with Givemore Muzariri
Musician and dancer, Nation Ngwenya (26) is languishing at Khami Maximum Prison after he was sentenced to seven years in prison for unlawful entry and theft.
In an interview, Ngwenya said his passion for music saw him relocating to South Africa in 2012 and while there he had an opportunity to work with a number of groups and one of them was Mzilikazi Dance Group.
“When I relocated to South Africa, I met a lot of talented guys that I worked with and at first I started as a dancer for a group called Mzilikazi Dance Group. This group was mainly centred on umaskandi kind of music.
“I really enjoyed my job as a dancer and from the shows that we held in South Africa I discovered that I had the potential to make it big in the field of umaskandi music,” he said.
Ngwenya said while with the group, he gained a lot of experience as he got enough training to play an acoustic guitar and the skill of controlling his voice as one of the backing vocalists of the group.
“During my stay in South Africa, I was more of someone who was at school as I got enough time to be trained to be a musician that I had always wanted to be. I got the exposure that I thought was necessary for me to be regarded as umaskandi.
“My training was more of on job training and this programme really helped me to be quickly trained in almost all the instruments that are involved when it comes to producing the umaskandi kind of music,” he said.
The musician said after seven years of training he decided to relocate back to Zimbabwe as he intended to form his own band but the plan was hindered by a lack of musical instruments.
“I went through seven years of training in South Africa and my intention was to relocate back to Zimbabwe soon after that programme. I came back home in 2017 and the only instrument that I had was an acoustic guitar.
“When I came back to Zimbabwe I formed and assembled my group that very same year and we started rehearsing as we were preparing for shows in my home country, but unfortunately the dream was unachievable. We could not host even a single show as we did not have enough instruments to use as a group,” he said.
The convict said the issue of instruments forced the group to put their operations on hold and he decided to venture into the transport industry as a way of trying to raise funds to procure the required instruments for the band.
“As the leader of the band I realised that it was high time for me to look for other sources of funds to be able to buy the required instruments for the band.
“So the first port of call was venturing into transport industry as I became a Honda Fit driver that was carrying people from Bulawayo to Nyamandlovu area,” he said.
Ngwenya said while in the transport industry he discovered that still it was difficult for him to raise the required money to purchase the instruments so this forced him to resort to crime.
“When I was in South Africa I thought it was cheaper to purchase the instruments that we required as a band but when I came here I discovered that it was a totally different story.
“So I later decided to team up with some guys in Nyamandlovu and we started breaking into people’s houses, stealing different properties up to a point that we were later caught by the police after having stolen two speakers, an amplifier and other electrical gadgets,” he said.
Ngwenya said he resorted to shortcuts, when he discovered that his dream of creating a band in Zimbabwe and recording an album was slowly becoming abortive.
“The challenges that I encountered while in this country were rather too much for me such that I could not take failure as an option and that landed me in the hands of the police.
“The issue of theft was handled by the police and I was arraigned before the courts on four counts of unlawful entry and theft and I was sentenced to seven years in prison,” he said.
Ngwenya said soon after being convicted he was moved to Khami Maximum Prison and during his first days, life was not easy as he had left a pregnant wife, who really needed his support.
“Even up to now I still believe that I betrayed my wife as when I got arrested she was around seven months pregnant and during that time she really needed my presence in her life.
“That really stressed me during my first day at Khami and even up to now I still find it very difficult to forgive myself over that issue,” he said.
The inmate said after two months in prison he discovered that prison authorities were actually supportive of his musical career and they were actually prepared to help him record his music while in prison.
“The prison authorities actually cleared that I be allowed to have my guitar even if I am in prison and so far I have managed to compose more than twenty four songs.
“Currently I am praying day and night to God asking Him to show me the path to follow so that I have my first album recorded while I am still in this place,” he said.
The inmate said with the period he had served it was now clear to him that in life there was no shortcut to success as stealing had brought him to prison over something he could have simply bought with his own money.
“I would like to urge other artistes out there to stay out of trouble as there are no shortcuts to success. Right now my family is struggling out there while I am stuck here.
“I know life is not easy out there, but people should learn to be patient as God’s time is the best,” he said.
Station Rehabilitation officer, Leonard Matsvange said Ngwenya was a talented artiste who simply needs assistance to record his music as he is one of the most promising musicians he had ever met in prison.
“We are going continue supporting this guy and at the same time we would like to urge musicians out there to give an ear to this guy’s music and I hope he will be able to record before he completes his jail term,”he said.