Rebecca Corbett was an ICS (International Citizenship Service) volunteer with Restless Development in Zimbabwe . In this post she dips into the music world of Harare, Zimbabwe by introducing two emerging artists she met volunteering, George & Arthur, and showcases a couple of their latest tracks.
Musicians travelling to the ‘bright lights of the big city’ to find fame and fortune isn’t a new story. In Ushewekunze, where there is no light to be seen, it takes a bit more imagination to create a music studio. This didn’t stop young music producers George Zeyi and Arthur Samuneti.
Ushewekunze, which literally means ‘outside the kingdom’, is a community fittingly perched on the boundary of Harare. Development here moves at a different pace, with the majority of its residents still waiting for their electricity to be connected – some have been waiting since 2008.
Yet amongst the newly built and incomplete houses, a small building has been transformed into a successful functioning music studio. Similar to the other inhabitants, George’s family are still waiting for electricity but because of the sunny disposition of the Zimbabwean climate, solar power comes to the rescue.
Charging $5 for a recording and with two albums under their belt, George and Arthur have proven that not all up-and-coming RnB or ‘afro-fusion’ artists come from the heart of the big cities. Their journey over the last two years however, has not been an easy one. The economic situation in Zimbabwe has left 90% of the population unemployed and families regularly are pushed to sell home-grown products to make extra money. It also puts pressure on young people to help support their families: “it’s tough, when you grow up you have to be responsible for things, you have to help your father”.
Listen to their latest track Ane RuDo:
The economic circumstances don’t make young musicians life simple. However George and Arthur are hopeful and their professional, high quality music that is straight out of Ushe is the finished article. Their dedication is also indisputable; “there is nothing we do besides here, we spend our whole lifetime in this studio”
However, you can tell that there is hesitation in both George and Arthur’s idea of what the future holds. When replying to the question ‘what do you see yourself in five years time?’ the air of uncertainty was evident with the pause that followed and the utterance “it’s been tough”.
But for such a talented and dedicated duo it is evident that their dream to ‘do something bigger than this’ is based on experience and musical know-how. Whether the Zimbabwean economy will allow that only time will tell.