Mrs Mugabe bowled over by Hope, Prudence

By Sharon Kavhu

HARARE-TWO of Zimbabwe’s leading female musicians, mbira prodigy Hope Masike and jazz sensation Prudence Katomeni-Mbofana, have been praised for their craft by Zimbabwe’s First Lady, Grace Mugabe.

The two singers graced The Southern Times’ Women in Leadership Conference in Harare on October 6, with some traditional Shona songs which had the First Lady rhythmically swaying in her chair.

The First Lady, who sings to church hymns, was moved by Masike’s music.

“I wonder how small ladies produce such beautiful voices. Hope Masike, I love your music,” she said as she took to the podium to deliver the keynote speech to 300 professional women at the Harare International Conference Centre.

Soon after giving the mbira maestro some compliments, the First Lady showed she was not just trying to be nice by breaking into a rendition of one of Masike’s hits.

“With practice, I’ll be better than you Hope,” she joked.

Mugabe also went and hugged Katomeni-Mbofana on her way out of the conference room.

Masike was blown away, telling The Southern Times she was overjoyed to learn that her music had such an impact on one so close to the seat of power.

“It was a pleasant, humbling surprise,” she said. “I’ve to be honest and say I wasn’t aware that my music goes that far. I was grateful and still am, for the generous remarks from the First Lady.”

She praised the conference, saying it was “revitalising” for the women.

“I was very honoured to be in the presence of such great women, sharing lifeskills. The entire event was revitalising,” she said.

“It was also a wonderful privilege to have a chance to speak about the ‘Pledge a Pad’ campaign which I’m launching in November. I want to mobilise sanitary pads for distribution in our rural communities and to girls who cannot afford them.

“Speaking about this at the conference was special; I got contacts of like-minded women willing to be the change we all want to see for the Zimbabwean girls and women.”

Prudence said the First Lady told her how she started appreciating her music.

“She was telling me how one day she was having a bad day so she was taking an afternoon nap and she could hear my song playing in the background, and how she woke up listening to it,” she said.

“It’s always a humbling feeling when someone comes and tells me that they love my work or how I sang something. I want my music to change lives in a positive manner or give someone a lighter moment.

“I love singing, it’s my first love. I have a calling for it. I was told time and time again from 20 years ago that my music will minister to people. Back then, it never made sense but now I understand.

“Life experiences, both lived and observed, are the influences behind my music. I’m someone who tries to see positives in a bad situation. Don’t get me wrong, some situations do upset me but I try to see ways of resolving a situation for the sake of moving forward. Performing before these amazing women who inspire me was an honour. And as usual, with the impartation that happens there, you are bound to leave with something that will change your life. I know that I did.”