Sky limit for star DJ
But not so for Bridget Gavanga, Zimbabwe Power Fm’s most recognized voice on the early morning breakfast show. To her, radio work comes naturally, and from an early age she had no doubt that she wanted to be a DJ, or to be involved with music one way or the other.
As early as age seven, Bridget was listening to music by various local and international artistes.
“I fell in love with radio at a very young age,” she says.
The musical influence largely came from her siblings and cousins whom she says were “very much into music,” and they would imitate the singing of different musicians.
She used to listen to rock music and Zimbabwean musical icons Thomas Mapfumo and Oliver Mtukudzi, and in Grade Six she appreciated the music of the late American crooner Marvin Gaye, Lionel Ritchie, Teddy Pendagras and Eveline Champagne King.
When Bridget takes to the microphone, one is guaranteed of three to four hours of good entertainment ‘ what with her rich and pleasant voice ‘ plus a variety of carefully selected music.
At a time when most people will be brushing off sleep from their eyes and getting ready to go to work, the “Bubbling B,” or “Bubbles” as she sometimes calls herself, will be up already and urging them to hurry up or they will miss their bus and be late for work.
And she does so in style.
Listening to her one would not think that she was quiet and reserved as a teenager.
In fact there was a time in her life when her self-esteem was at its lowest ebb. She says this was a result of domestic problems and misunderstanding between her parents.
“At junior school I was too quiet to the point that I didn’t like myself,” she says.
“But as you grow older you begin to understand yourself better. You learn to live your life and pick up the pieces.”
Bridget says she enjoys her job, which to her, is a calling.
“I’m a DJ today because I have always wanted to be one from an early age. If it’s not what I want, I won’t do it.”
Doing what she loves is certainly what she does. She even went on to win an award for her efforts ‘ the 2004 Zimbabwe Union of Journalists DJ of the year.
She has also been Zimbabwe Music Awards, Zima adjudicator for three years ‘ no mean feat for the lady from Chitungwiza, a sprawling town to the east of Harare ‘ well-known for producing artistes and footballers of note.
Her early morning breakfast slot features the notorious and funny Dr Zobha, whom some people do not find to be so funny. He always wears a mask and is not unlike South Africa’s musician Mzekezeke, if only in appearance.
The mask has made it difficult for many to know who the real Dr Zobha is, as several copycats have surfaced, each one of them looking and sounding just like the hoarse-voiced character on radio.
My question to Bridget is how does she cope with the man, who can be difficult to handle sometimes. Her answer is “I like Zobha cause he makes me laugh, but sometimes shocks me. That’s how it should be. Radio should be fun.”
She says the idea of Dr Zobha was “borrowed” from Kiss Fm in Kenya where Power Fm DJs went on a familiarization tour in 2004.
The 10-day tour of selected African youth stations included visits to YFm radio in South Africa, Clouds Fm in Tanzania and another Kenyan based station, Nations Fm.
Bridget says although she hates flying, the tour was an eye-opener as they got to learn many things from fellow African DJs.
The only seasoned female DJ and most experienced radio personality in Zimbabwe at the moment, Bubbles has, from 2004 until now, been head of production at Power Fm, also assisting with the training of new DJs and production work.
She joined the ZBC in December 1997 as a guest DJ, after undergoing auditions for radio. She got lucky when one of the hottest DJs of the time, Eunice Goto, left the country.
Then head of Radio 3 (before it was renamed Power Fm), Admire Taderera, needed someone to replace her and asked if she was interested. She said she was, and was employed on a part-time basis for four years.
Bridget says she was excited when she went on air for the first time but felt uneasy because most of the people on radio at the time were seasoned broadcasters.
Among those who inspired her were former DJs Josh Makawa, Musi khumalo, Peter Johns, the late Tsitsi Mawarire, John Matinde, Busi Chindove, Caleb Thondlana, Innocent Manase and others.
In life she says she was inspired by her mother who managed to send her and her siblings to school, despite experiencing some economic hardships.
Power Fm is based in Gweru, a city in the Midlands province, and so when the station moved from Harare, Bridget also had to leave family and friends to go there.
This was a difficult move for her and she resigned.
“I was stressed by the fact that I was far away from my family, and this at a time when my mother was sick. I also needed rejuvenation as I felt stagnant,” she says.
She travelled to South Africa where she stayed for a month and a half. When she returned home she worked for a Non-Governmental Organisation on a three-month contract, before she was re-called by Power Fm as the station needed the dynamism and talent she possessed.
It did not take her long to accept as one with a passion for broadcasting.
That was when the Zobha character was born, and Bridget says she loved it and took to the airwaves with renewed vigour.
She and Dr Zobha make a deadly pair and leave early morning listeners in stitches through their exchanges.
DJs, like all of us, have their trying moments.
How does she manage to keep her cool and come across to listeners as upbeat always despite personal problems and disappointments?
The answer lies in what former Radio 3, now Power Fm veteran DJ, Kudzi Marudza, told her.
“Kudzi told me to forget my problems before going on air. I have a national duty to entertain, despite any problems affecting me. It’s the least I can do for my fans. They expect me to do so.”
One of the subjects close to her heart is that of gender.
She says she is hurt by the way women are being treated by men ‘ especially their being subjected to physical abuse and rape.
Bridget is however happy that the government is doing something about it, through the domestic violence bill, which will be debated during the current session of parliament.
However, she does not subscribe to the notion that women should receive special treatment. She says they should be appreciated on their own merit and not rely too much on affirmative action.
She should know better ‘ she is where she is through hard work and is not a product of gender equity or something similar.
Bridget says the world needs love.
“There is too much fighting and sadness. You ask yourself, do people have a conscience? Look at what is happening in Israel, Sudan and the DRC.”
Bridget was born to Langton and Nancy Gavanga in Rusape, near the Eastern border with Mozambique, in the early 70s, which makes her 30-something (she won’t say her actual age).
Her family moved to Chitungwiza when she was very young. This is where she did her schooling at Seke 1 High School up to “O” level.
After completing her secondary education she did a Public Relations course at the Christian College of Southern Africa, CCOSA, in 1995, graduating with an LCCI diploma in PR the following year.
Between 1998 and 2000 she studied for and successfully completed a diploma in Journalism with the same college.
Bridget says it is important to acquire professional qualifications to go with God-given talent. That way she says, one has something to fall back on when the talent fails.
“I need to keep studying and even get a degree one day.”
She has one brother and two sisters. One of the sisters, Louise, is a model and was at one time crowned Miss Chitungwiza. She is married now.
Before becoming a DJ, Bridget loved Rhythm and Blues music but says now she cannot restrict herself to one type of music but appreciates any good song, which is reflected in the variety of genres she plays on Power Fm.
She says she likes to see people happy and draws strength from deep within herself. “I like positive energy around me and believe in inner happiness,” she says.
Bridget is annoyed by “people who want to treat us celebrities as if we are not people ‘ like we are commodities. It breaks my heart when people say things about me that are not true, but I just ignore them.”
She likes going out to dance once in a while, but otherwise she is the homely type who spends time at home ‘ alone, reading or watching television.
This is what makes her relax.
Does she have plans to take her talent overseas?
Her answer is in the negative. “I love home. If home was Lebanon, I’d love it,” she says.
She says, however, that she would not mind working in neighbouring countries in the SADC region, namely South Africa, Botswana and Namibia, but not in Europe or America ‘ at least for now.
Her advice to youths and those who would like to take up broadcasting is “if you have a passion for anything, go for it. The times I’ve done so, it has worked for me.”
She loves Chinese and traditional Zimbabwean dishes like “madora” or caterpillars, and says she dresses differently for different occasions.
Otherwise she prefers denims and looks stunning in her cowgirl outfit, complete with a stetson hat and high boots.
Bridget looks fit and has a stunning figure which many envy, thanks to a bit of exercise at home and her former sport at school, volleyball.
But she says she is still single and would rather take her time before she commits herself to a lasting relationship.
What are her dreams?
“I want to make it in life ‘ to get my heart’s desires ‘ which I’m not willing to share now.”