IT might be a few weeks before the curtain comes down on the year 2011, but already there are some personalities in the arts and culture sectors who are standing shoulder high above the rest after excelling in their respective fields.
These are the movers and shakers who made 2011 a memorable and momentous year.
The following is a list of personalities we feel deserve special mention for their outstanding contribution.
Without doubt, the late sungura musician, Tongai Moyo, who passed away in October after succumbing to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, stamped his presence in the music circles by holding successful shows despite his poor health.
“Muchina Muhombe” managed to keep his group Utakataka Express intact at a time when most people feared that his poor health would see the group falling apart.
The artiste also released a successful album “Toita Basa”, that carried the song “Ndinobvuma” that chronicled his battle with cancer.
The song also became a rallying theme song for people living with cancer.
He might be gone too soon, but he left behind an unforgettable legacy and in his son, Peter, who has since taken over at the helm of Utakataka Express, Dhewa’s memories will forever be in the minds of many.
If there is one man who has single-handedly shaped and transformed the local music landscape, then it is none other than the grandmaster, Oliver Mtukudzi.
Year in year out, the man has stood at the apex of the local music pedestal, stamping his presence like a colossus.
This year, Tuku held sold out shows, experimented with solo shows and groomed a number of upcoming musicians among them young Munya Mataruse, whom he honed at his Pakare Paye Arts Centre in Norton.
The katekwe exponent also obliged his legion of fans by releasing two new albums, “Rudaviro” and “Abi’angu – Duets of My Time”, a feat seldom achieved by many.
One of the albums was launched on local turf while the second was launched in South Africa.
He also scored high marks by becoming one of the few artistes from the Sadc region to feature a galaxy of renowned musicians on a single album.
Tuku also shared the stage with his long-time buddy and fellow musician Thomas Mapfumo on two occasions in South Africa.
Tuku was also named as Unicef’s Goodwill Ambassador.
From a virtually unknown commercial pilot based in Harare, Wendall rose to fame as the country’s co-representative in the Big Brother Amplified reality show with Vimbai Mutinhiri.
The down-to-earth Wendall put Zimbabwe on the world map after pocketing a cool US$200 000 together with fellow winner Karen Igho from Nigeria, in August.
“Nibbles”, as Wendall was called in the Big Brother house, also pocketed another US$50 000 which he received from President Mugabe while Vimbai received US$10 000.
Wendall’s win came as a consolation to many Zimbabweans who felt cheated after Munyaradzi “Diamond Boy” Chidzonga missed out on winning the same prize by a whisker last year.
Reigning Miss Zimbabwe Malaika Mushandu did the country proud when she made it into the top 10 at the Miss World pageant held in London last month.
She becomes the second Zimbabwean to achieve such a feat after Angeline Musasiwa, who came fourth at 1994 Miss World finals.
Although she did not bring any accolades home, Malaika’s achievements would best be engraved in the Hall of Fame for this year’s movers and shakers.
Miss Universe Zimbabwe Lisa Morgan has been using her tenure to good use throughout the year.
She has been lobbying for a healthy society, taking part in free blood sugar and blood pressure testing campaigns in Harare’s First Street as part of her ambassadorial role.
She also raised funds through a dinner she hosted in Harare for the kidney transplants of Jonathan Jones and Dalubuhle Moyo, who had experienced renal failure.
She was also voted Miss Expressive at the Miss International beauty pageant held in Chengdu, China, recently.
He might be the Minister of Media, Information and Publicity, but Webster Shamu has played a significant role in the arts in 2011.
As the patron of the Zimbabwe Union Musicians, Minister Shamu has been very active in lobbying for artistes’ rights and recognition, getting involved in activities to do with musicians and making sure that they are given an attentive ear.
He stood by the family of sungura musician Cephas Mashakada and supported them during the sickness and eventual passing on of Mashakada.
He was also there to give a comforting shoulder to Tongai Moyo when he was in and out of hospital Arts’ 2011 movers and shakers and went an extra mile to help raise funds for the musician to seek medication outside the country and also buy some drugs for his treatment.
One other sector where Minister Shamu was visible in 2011 is the anti-piracy sector where he was went an extra mile in trying to stamp out the wide-spread practice that has cost musicians huge profits.
Mutare-based gospel musician Blessing Shumba emerged from the shadows announced his arrival on the music scene with two albums “Ishe Wazvose” and “NdiMwari”.
Although his first album “Ishe Wazvose” was released in 2009, it was not known until late last year and the better part of this year, catching the attention of many listeners, eventually becoming a hit in almost all social circles.
Shumba hit a rich vein again with his second offering “NdiMwari” released early this year.
The 32-year-old Buhera-born artiste was one of the most played gospel musicians of the year.
Songs like “Vana Sesu”, Handina Mhaka”, “Kurwa Kwakanaka”, “Vachaiteiko?”, “Zita”, “Mufaro”, “Mabasa”, “Ndouya Nei?”, “Nhaka” and “Titeme Timene” have all been favourites of many a listener.
Shumba obliged his fans with the release of a DVD album titled “Ishe Wazvose” while his two albums are also occupying pole positions at Metro Studios’ top selling music charts.
Freddy “Kapfupi” Majalima
Comedian-cum-musician, Kapfupi, proved that vision, hard work and passion are the ingredients of becoming a star when he held sold out shows, sharing the stage with some of the country’s top musicians.
He also made the year 2011 a memorable one after investing his money into the setting up of a bar in his home area of Epworth and a few cars.
The 2011 will forever remain etched in the minds of many as the year when businessman-cum politician made a surprise and brief entry into showbiz.
Chiyangwa made his debut appearance as an actor in the local film “The Gentleman” that premiered in Harare.
Although it was just a cameo appearance, Chiyangwa is on record saying that he is going to star in two more local films.
Chiyangwa – who was once a boxing promoter – is reported to have developed an interest in music too.
Son to the late Dendera king, Simon “Chopper Chimbetu, Sulu has had a prosperous 2011.
He has earned a considerable amount of money from music and has shared the stage with virtually every big artiste in the country from Tuku, Alick Macheso, Winky D to the late Tongai Moyo.
He used the year to groom upcoming musicians like Sister Jean, whom he has also been sharing the stage with.
He featured on Sister Jean’s album “Africa”.
His album – ‘Non-Stop” – received rave reviews and has been topping the charts since its release early this year.
One cannot take anything away from the gospel music couple of Pastor Charamba and his wife Olivia.
They always make the best out of each year and 2011 has been a bumper year for the two.
Holding sold-out shows, as well as the success of Pastor Charamba’s album “Pashoko Pangoma”.
Pastor Charamba also dedicated time to study on top of performances and attained a certificate in music at the Zimbabwe College of Music.
The director of the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe has been championing the arts in Zimbabwe for a long time and 2011 was one of those years that saw him and his organisation running a number of successful events meant to promote the arts industry in Zimbabwe.