Talent needing exposure abounds in prison

20 Jan, 2023 - 00:01 0 Views
Talent needing exposure abounds in prison Velaphi Gumbo


ONE of Bulawayo most talented keyboard players and music producers, Velaphi Gumbo a.k.a VG has described prison as a delectable melting pot of versatile untapped talent from different backgrounds.

VG made these remarks as he was reviewing an eight track album titled Ungithathe nginje that he recorded for a group from Khami Maximum prison called Voice of Praise way back in 2019.

In an interview, Gumbo said he met Voice of praise at a function that he had been invited to in Emakhandeni suburb as a guest speaker.
The inmates were included in the programme as entertainers and they impressed Gumbo so much that he pledged to record them.

Voice of praise

“I still remember that before I met Voice of Praise a lot of people were talking about this group because of their polished performances that were winning the hearts of many. So we happened to later meet at Emakhandeni suburb and I was really excited when I heard that the group would be providing entertainment for the day.

“When these guys performed, I could not believe they were prisoners. Their performance was flawless and their music was loaded with meaning.

“That performance was a challenge to me and from my discussion with the leader of the group I discovered that I could only assist them by recording their first production,” he said.
Gumbo said he arranged with group leader, Bhekimpilo Maphosa,  that he would use his keyboard-playing prowess to come up with instrumentals for the eight songs that make up the album.

“Their songs required instruments as they were being presented in accapela format.
“I had to put my expertise into use and immediately after being cleared by the prison authorities we started transporting these guys to our local studio for rehearsals and recording of the much awaited album.

Khami Prison

“With the support that we got from all stakeholders it took us three weeks to complete this project,” he said.
The music producer said the recording not challenging as he got support from friends who shared the same vision with him, that of identifying and promoting talent that is not getting enough exposure behind the walls.

“Meeting Voice of Praise was more of an eye opener as it gave me an opportunity to have a feel of the talent that is behind bars and since then I have discovered that prison is very rich in terms of talent, compared to the communities where we come from.

“From the performances I saw when I visited Khami Maximum Prison, I discovered that prisons has got the potential to produce talented, who can compete with those in our free communities.
“When I got to Khami Maximum Prison I met Assistant Commissioner Allois Sibanda and by then he was the station officer in charge. He helped us in many ways and up now I really would like to thank him for his professional conduct.

Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service

“The support we got from the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service (ZPCS) saw us recording this album in three weeks as everyone showed a lot of commitment in producing this album,” he said.

“The management proposed that we should officially launch the album in March 2020 as a way of involving all members of the community in the process of rehabilitating inmates for their successful reintegration upon completing their jail terms

He said ZPCS management invited stakeholders from the community to come on board on the day of the launch.
“The event was graced by the resident minister Judith Ncube and the group took advantage of this event to sell their CDs using the auction system and they raised money to sustain themselves in prison,” he said.

Resident minister Judith Ncube

Gumbo said the success of the project has inspired him to support more such projects as prison has got extremely talented people who only need exposure to rise to stardom.
“I am reliably informed that leaders of Voice of praise left prison way back in 2020 as beneficiaries of the presidential amnesty. But what is encouraging is the fact that some members have managed to soldier on with the group.

“The project that we did with these guys is not a once of thing but I still want to continue working with inmates but for now financially I am still struggling due to the lock down that we had due to Coronavirus.

“To make that dream a success I would like to appeal to members of the public, who might be interested in partnering me in recording inmates as part of their rehabilitation programmes,” he said.
Former Voice of Praise leader, Bhekimpilo Maphosa thanked the music producer for making his dream come true as this album carries unforgettable memories of his six year stay in prison.

The ex-convict challenged other music producers to take the leaf from Gumbo, who sacrificed for the world to have a full appreciation of what rehabilitation in prison involves.
“The album that we recorded had songs that included Hlala nami,Ngithathe nginje,I’ve got a friend,Ndijehovah chete, likhon’themba,Day by day,Kusiza ntoni and You are worth.
“These are some of the songs that I composed as I felt it was high time I put myself in the hands of the lord,” he said.

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