Bruce Ndlovu, Sunday Life Correspondent
AS he prepares for the release of his tenth album, music star Jeys Marabini believes isiNdebele, the language he sings in predominantly, will die soon as the people of Bulawayo have failed to uplift artistes whose work is keeping it alive.
For years artistes in the City of Kings have complained about lack of support, with many migrating to the capital or outside the country’s borders where they believe that their talents are better appreciated.
Now Marabini, who is preparing a new 10 track album to be released later this year, has also added his voice to the chorus of complaints, saying that isiNdebele will follow Latin as one of the languages whose existence will be wiped off.
Although Latin phrases can be found in most languages, it is now considered a dead language as it is not commonly spoken in its purest form anymore. This is the fate that Marabini believes awaits isiNdebele.
“I can tell you that if things continue the way they are, in 50-60 years the Ndebele language will not exist. If books and music done in the language are ignored, the language will itself be lost one day and we’re really not far off that day,” he said in an interview with Sunday Life last week.
Marabini added that people should show their appreciation for the language by supporting those artistes that were fighting to preserve it.
“Music is what preserves the language. It’s an archive of sorts. That’s why I’m concerned about the originality of some of the young artistes that are coming up right now. If they lose the essence of our culture, then the language and customs of the people will also be lost. As it is we are destroying both the culture and language,” he said.
The veteran jazz artiste also added that he felt that people in Bulawayo only supported one thing, Highlanders Football Club, something that made them blind to other unique initiatives from Bulawayo that also needed their passionate support.
“One thing I would like to say to the people is that Highlanders shouldn’t be the only thing from Bulawayo that they support.
There are other means of socialising and networking besides going to a soccer match, but people are ignoring them. Shows are not only about music because we socialise and network during events but we haven’t been doing that. That’s why I believe we are left behind in most instances,” he said.
Despite the challenges he and other city artistes are facing, Marabini said this was an “old problem” that seemed to have no immediate solution.
“This is an old disease. It started with artistes before us and so if people didn’t support the superstars from the 1980s what hope do the rest of us have. As a people we have to admit that we are weak. We are all talk and no action, and so someone will promise you that they will come to a show but on the day of the gig you find that they haven’t shown up,” he said.
After years of poor turnouts at shows and disappointing album at sales, Marabini said he was no longer making music to please anyone but himself.
“I want to take my time with the album. I don’t care if people buy it or not as long as I’m satisfied with it. So that’s why I won’t be taking any short-cuts. I’m searching for a different sound so I need a different ear to listen to the project.
“It has gotten to the point where I feel like we need to ask the people what exactly they want. Because we are always talking among ourselves or to journalists as I’m doing now, but we need to hear where we are going wrong as artistes from this city,” he said.
Marabini also took a swipe at the city’s budding crop of young musicians, saying that they had abandoned their roots in favour of a sound that is alien to them.
“My main concern with some of our young artistes is that they are not original and they copy other artistes too much.
Everything is also done hastily and you find that they will make a song today, master it tomorrow and release it the day after.
It’s all done in a rush and sometimes you hear a tune that you are convinced would be big if it was mastered correctly,” he said. (See also page 2)