Pauline Gundidza tells her story
Pauline Gundidza is a Zimbabwean musician who was part of the Mafriq group that had a hit song Ndomuudza Sei together with Lovedale ‘Discord’ Makalanga and Tungamirai ‘Tunga T’ Tavi which was disbanded in 2010.
She was born on the 8th July 1985. She has been in the music industry for 19 years now. She was married to Roki in 2004 and had children, Skye (2005) and Minana (2010), though the marriage did not last long after they divorced but they still work together in the studio every now and then.
Minana was born after they had decided to reunite in 2009 but like at first they could not stay together for long again. They shocked fans when they decided to get married. After they got married, Roki did not want her to continue performing and she disappeared from the entertainment scene for a while.
Celebrity caught up with Pauline and below is an exclusive interview of her telling her story:
Can you kindly share with us who Pauline Gundidza is, her background, how you grew up and your upbringing.
Pauline Gundidza is a 35-year-old artist, arta consultant and activist. I grew up in Harare and received my primary and secondary education at Convent Schools. This is where I discovered my talent through school choir and ethnomusicology bands. I was focusing on singing, traditional dance, marimba and mbira.
You have been in the arts industry for a long time and considered one of the pioneers of Urban Grooves, kindly share this part of your life and how you came to be in the limelight in the Urban Grooves era.
I started my career as a solo artist and as I was looking for an opportunity to record my music I met the guys and we formed a group, then called Absolut and later to be known as Mafriq. We recorded several songs before making our big break off the Chamhembe Volume 1 compilation. Our song Ndokuudza Sei was an award winning hit and we went on to record two albums Chizevezeve and Shungu Dzemoyo as well as many singles and collaborations. We toured the country and also had shows in South Africa Mozambique and the United Kingdom.
You were part of Mafriq. What happened to Mafriq?
Mafriq was an ethnocentric group that rose to fame during the urban grooves era. Our music was based on our African traditional roots and we fused this with contemporary trends to produce our unique sound. After about a decade of performing and recording we disbanded. I would say this was for the purpose of self development as we all started music at a very tender age and after some time we had to reconnect with life and family responsibilities as well as pursue other goals in our musical and personal lives. During this interval I went to music school where Iwas specializing in mbira and I started my own band called Vanhu. I also became an activist and have worked on several health and humanitarian campaigns. We recently began performing together as Mafriq as part of the Urban Grooves revival and after our last performance which was the Jacaranda Festival we got an opportunity through Houz of Gruv to record a new project which is about to be released. In essence this will be the return of Mafriq. Our goal is to improve on our sound and retake our position as Zimbabwe’s best group.
You have been in the arts for a long time and how is it for a woman, the challenges and opportunities available for women.
We live in a man’s world. It is not easy to be heard when you are a woman. Our arts industry is no different. It seems it is either one will settle for the role of backing vocalist or back up dancer and remain in the shadow of male-headed bands, or one will take the bull by the horns and face the adversity of our male counterparts at the front of the stage. It takes a lot to be accepted, appreciated and treated with equal respect. Having come from a group where I was the only woman I have become somewhat hardened by this male dominated environment and I do not regard myself as being any less than a male artist but rather an equal. They say “think like a man and act like a lady”. This is the best approach for me. I readily take the challenge to prove my mettle despite my gender. There are also a lot of dangers for female artists as we are regarded as sexual prey by some of our stakeholders, colleagues and even fans. I am very particular about my security and safety when i am in the field. It takes extra discipline and self control to survive. I commend the female artists who have managed to hold their own, the likes of Hope Masike, Shasha, Ammara Brown, Gemma Griffiths and many others who are soldiering on against the odds. We wish to have female stakeholders too in the industry who will help us create a level playing field for artists of both genders.
Looking at your career goals when you were growing up, what is it that you can proudly say you have accomplished?
I always wanted to lead my own band and i am very happy with our performance level as Vanhu. It is a band comprised of mostly young artists as well as a few matured members. We work well together. We are a family. We have mutual respect and they believe in me as i believe in them. I am also happy with the work I have done as an activist. My childhood dream was to become a human rights lawyer. My musical career has helped me to still be active as a humanitarian. I have participated in national and global campaigns such as ZIMPHIA, 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence, Girl Child campaigns, relief campaigns, charity campaigns such as NhakaYeupenyu to name a few. This work is very fulfilling for me. I had a very painful childhood and it is actually a form of self healing to be able to help others who are neglected or abused.
What lessons have you learnt in life that you feel you learned very late in life?
Self esteem is one thing I never had as a youth. I think if I had started valuing myself sooner I would not have been as vulnerable and I would have achieved greater things. I allowed negative people to define me. Now I have come to a point where I can stand up for myself and I encourage others to do the same.
If you could go back 15 years ago to a young Pauline, what would be your advice to her?
I would advise myself to lean on God and avoid bad company. I would tell myself to ignore negative voices in and around me. I would tell myself that I deserve better. I would set my priorities straight and make better life choices.
In your opinion, what do you think needs to be done to address the challenges facing the music industry?
Our arts sector would benefit from funding and a separate ministry or office to cater specifically for our unique needs as artists. Many artists are not being rewarded for their work and it is painful to see many artists living in poverty when our trade is globally viewed as one of the highest earning trades.
When Pauline is not working, how does she spend her time?
I like to work out at home although consistency is a challenge. I love to read and i enjoy cooking. I am also a huge comedy fan.
If you had a million dollars, how would you spend it?
I would pay my tithe and then start at least two commercial businesses and buy shares in the stock market. I would build my dream home, rebuild my rural home and also build a children’s home. I would start trust funds for my daughters. After all the serious business I would go crazy shopping with my kids and go on holiday somewhere breathtaking. After the fun bits I would save whatever I had in a secret account and carry on with normal life.
Looking the journey, you have travelled to where you are now, where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
I see myself being an internationally acclaimed artist performing all over the world and being the patron of a humanitarian organization.
You have been working with Msasa Project, what is it that you do and how is it helping you live your dream?
I use music to drive our message of ending gender based violence. I also share my life experiences in the hope of disseminating crucial facts about GBV so that more people in abusive circumstances step out and report, victims recover and perpetrators are brought to book and rehabilitated.
Kindly share anything else that your fans may need to know.
I would like my fans to know that I appreciate them and will continue to strive to be the artist they need me to be. I would advise them to ignore negativity and focus on positivity. Everyone has a purpose. Thank you.