Peter Matika, Senior Life Reporter
THE recently held Gwanda Gospel Festival proved popular with Zimbabwean gospel music lovers as they packed Phelandaba Stadium.
South African gospel diva Hlengiwe Mhlaba openly declared that Zimbabwean charismatic preacher and founder of United Family International
Church prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa was her spiritual father.
She made the declaration on the opening night of the gospel extravaganza, last Friday night, during her set at the festival, which continues to grow popular since its inception three years ago.
“ . . . I openly declare that Emmanuel Makandiwa is my spiritual father and I am not ashamed to say it,” she roared on stage, to be greeted by a thunderous applauds from the crowd.
Mhlaba went on to put up a sterling performance. The concert was not an ordinary show as it was a typical glamourous event, with a glitzy VIP pavilion set up for delegates, world class stage with an aerial drone to record the event from a bird’s eye view.
This year’s event was officiated by Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko, adding to the event’s royal standards. The three-day musical event was organised by Big Time Strategic Group and was sponsored by the founder of the festival Justice Maphosa through his companies under the Big Time Strategic Group banner.
The South Africa-based Gwanda-bred businessman organised the gospel fete which ends today to get the nation to gather around spirituality. Last year, Maphosa refurbished Phelandaba stadium, which is now the home of the festival. He also built a church for Brethren in Christ Church in the town.
To ensure that the event kept the crowd thrilled and excited an almost 30-minute fireworks display was held on the opening night. In an interview last year Maphosa said: “This event is very important to me. I just wanted to do something people think is not possible — have a world class gospel show in Gwanda just for people to praise and worship. I’m glad we managed to do so.”
Now in its third edition the extravaganza featured performances from Oliver Mtukudzi, Takesure Zamar, Solly Mahlangu, Hlengiwe, Dumie, Mahendere Brothers, ZCC Mbungo stars, Tholakele, Knowledge Nkiwane and Judith, among others. The event was well attended with the stadium filled to the capacity.