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her purpose - Interview with Dudu Manhenga
December 01, 2011
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is a great pleasure and privilege to watch a person fulfilling their
purpose. I'm sure anyone who has watched a performance by
Dudu Manhenge, can attest to this. In recent years Dudu has traveled
the world with her music, flying the Zimbabwean flag high. It is
no surprise then that Dudu was recently voted amongst the top 4
non-diplomats making outstanding contributions to diplomacy in Zimbabwe.
The Bulawayo native does not just think of herself as a musician,
but as a creative entrepreneur and a communicator, and after meeting
her, it is clear to see that she has a whole lot going for her,
besides music. Through this interview you will also learn that Dudu
is especially passionate about women's issues.
yourself and where you come from.
I'm a very passionate person. I'm a mother of four lovely,
lovely children, who just give me so much joy. And I'm married
to the most humble man on earth. I'm a Christian. I'm
a dreamer and I'm a very persistent person. I come from Bulawayo.
I come from a family where there was lots of violence, but where
I also saw a woman rise. I grew up in a very traditional set-up.
Traditional in terms of religion, but I was also exposed to Christianity
at school, and every Sunday my mother would say "Endai kuChechi".
Most of my choices that I've made about my life, it's
because of my background.
did you decide on music? Describe that journey.
I think music decided on me. By the time I was in junior choir,
a teacher had already spotted talent in me, and he got me to conduct
the choir. When I went into high school, I just joined in there,
and by the time I was in Form 2 I was part of the leadership. It
so happened that my high school was located next to Amakhosi Theatre.
I would pass by there singing at the top of my voice, hoping that
some day somebody would say "Hey! You sing well! Come here!"
And one day somebody did that. Handsome Maphisa; he heard me, and
he said, "You are going to be a great voice in Africa".
He started giving me music of the Letta Mbulus, the Dorothy Radebes,
the Dorothy Masukas, and Miriam Makeba, and said, "Listen
to this stuff!" And I listened, and my heart would leap out.
When I finished
my ‘A' levels, everybody had all these academic dreams
for me. A few weeks before that, I had come to Harare for a workshop
that was conducted by Busi Ncube. I met this young man who said
"I think you need to come to Harare, there are greater opportunities
here, than in Bulawayo." And so I applied at the [Zimbabwe]
College of Music. I actually handed my paper in on the day of the
deadline, and I went back to Bulawayo. I got a call from this young
man. He calls me and says, "Guess what? You've been
admitted to the College of Music!" So I told my mum, I think
this thing is calling me. I'm going to study music. I'm
on scholarship and everything will be taken care of. And I would
do gigs and perform during the night and wake up early in the morning
and write my homework, and then go to school, and pay my fees. And
when I was still at College of Music I got a break and I started
working with Oliver [Mtukudzi], who took me on tour. So my first
£800 that I made, I took it home, and I gave it to my mother.
And she was convinced that this thing had possibilities. I'm
proud to say it's been upward from then. And I believe that
this industry is my calling, not just a job.
speak of music as being your purpose. What does purpose mean to
I think purpose stabilizes you like an oak tree, or like a baobab
tree. It takes a year and a half for a baobab tree to sprout, and
then when it stands, it stands! Purpose says to you; when you know
your destination you know what to pack. So most people don't
think of their destination. They think of just moving, day to day,
but they don't look at the final picture, and mapping your
way towards that. People do not take time out to think about where
they finally want to be. You know, it gets me so mad. You see that
this person is taking out a half-baked cake, and they're putting
it out there and they've not thought it through. Then what?
One of my dreams
is that I want to be a diplomat. I want to be planted in another
country to progress the agenda of my people. So now that I know
this is my final goal, what do I do? I engage myself with things
to do with women, because women are the majority of the people.
So if you were to ask me to talk about issues to do with women,
I can go on any platform and speak about women. And because I speak
about women, I know how to speak about their children, and because
I know how to speak about these women and their children, I know
how to speak about their partners.
do you think about the current situation of women and their potential?
Where we are now as women, we are like a lion cub, which was adopted
and raised with dogs, and he grows up all his days barking. One
day, he goes to the drinking hole, looks at his reflection, and
suddenly sees this mane. And says "Hang on! I'm different."
Suddenly some lions come in to attack the animals. And then from
the other side, he sees that these guys are identical to the reflection
he just saw, and then he sees this big one roar. Suddenly, something
inside him jumps out! And that's how women are.
I think information
is not going out there. And women are also the highest pushers of
patriarchy; we do not show each other what the possibilities are.
We grow up with mothers who are raising us the same way that they
were raised, to be at home. But then these mothers do not then tell
us about our great-grandmothers who, when granddad died, she decided
to take on cattle rearing and she became the biggest farmer in that
area. To awaken in us, that hunger, to see what the possibilities
Also just the
possibilities of saying "I can be an engineer!" [or]
"I can be a pilot!" besides even thinking of the different
professions . . . I can be that mother who, though I'm at
home, I can nurture them with milk and with information, because
And most of
the time we blame men about how they turn out . . . but we raise
the men! We teach them how to use the loo; we teach them how to
lower the seat. Therefore, later on when they are married, these
shouldn't be issues at all. So, that's how central I
think women are, because the seed may determine what kind of fruit
comes out, but the ground in which the seed is planted determines
how well the seed will grow, and how fast it germinates. So we the
women become the soil, because the word of God says that, "Every
seed shall give after it's own kind." And as women do
not recognize that.
seems to be a large, growing gap between the women in power and
disempowered women, who seem to have been left behind? How do you
think this gap can be bridged?
Nothing happened without being deliberately planned out. I think
the womenfolk need to be deliberate about how they are going to
bridge the gap, because the gap is just too big. There are things
that by now we should be saying, it ended with the previous generation,
and we are fighting different battles now. The women, the ones left
behind, should be inspired enough to say how do I get to that space,
because nothing comes from wishing and wishing about it. The women
who are up ahead should be saying, who is this woman in the middle
that I can take and put under my wing, so that she is in the position
to take the woman behind her, and we build.
are your views on domestic violence?
Our culture somehow has a lot of blame for domestic violence. For
example, in Ndebele, a child is called umntwana, the mother is collectively
called abesintwana, meaning those that are like children. So what
it means is that when a man married a wife, and they have children,
he has got two levels of children in the house. The underlying thing
is that the same way that I treat umntwana, is the same way I will
treat abesintwana. So once in a while, to keep children on track,
we pull out the rod, and therefore men do not feel that it's
wrong to pull out the rod once in a while, because they are keeping
them in check. And I guess its time we took education to the men,
because we've been teaching the women, who have got very difficult
positions and cannot negotiate. And I think lots and lots of women
are in difficult positions because they do not have negotiating
power. Women are poor, generally. Therefore when you are poor, you
will stoop to any standard to be able to survive, because you don't
want to slap the hand that feeds you. It's difficult for them
to expect any better. They are just happy that they have food; they
have shelter, and have what seems like protection.
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