Victor Kunonga – Uya
This award-winning young Zimbabwean singer-songwriter is a relatively recent arrival on the African music scene.
Considering he started playing guitar in his late-20’s, and 3 years later, in 2004 he amassed a solid following in his homeland with his debut album “Such is Life”, his success is impressive.
He’s a multi-talented artist, who began writing and performing songs in primary school, and was the bandleader of his high school’s marimba band, But in 1999 he wasn’t accepted at the College of Music in Bulawayo, for he didn’t fit the criteria of having an instrument, so instead he studied graphic design.
Yearning to make music, he began again in 1997; and attending music workshops, he learnt his instrument.
Rooted in the rumba of the region, Kunonga extends the legacy of the great Zimbabwean guitar bands of the 1980’s, with the interplay of guitars, keyboards and backing vocals, his lyrics that tell real stories.
He also draws inspiration from contemporary giants like Oliver Mtukudzi and Thomas Mapfumo, and just as with these artists, his concern is not about making commercial hits. Instead, his commitment is to communicate with the people through music, believing that if he can make an impact then it has been worth the effort.
He’s a social commentator, who both musically and thematically draws very directly from his own life experience; and though sung predominantly in Shona and Ndebele, his messages are universal.
On “Uyo”, his second album, released in 2006, he’s accompanied by well established Southern African artists, including the internationally acclaimed guitarist, Louis Mhlanga, who co-produced the album.
Here he sensitively portrays social living, with sweet songs that address harsh issues like betrayal, child abuse, dispossession and starvation.
With the same sincerity and gentle strength, he also advocates peace, and with these songs of hope, Kunonga is fast expanding his audience across the borders.
Look out for his forthcoming release, ‘Hatinete’ which promises to be another appropriate album of encouragement.