TENDAI SAUTA SPEAKS TO KOMBAYI MATONHODZE ABOUT HIS JOURNEY IN HE ARTS SECTOR.
1.Tell us about yourself?
My name is Kombai C. Matonhodze, I was born on March 24 1979 in Chiredzi. My parents own a Sugarcane plot there and that’s where I grew up. I attended primary school at Chipiwa primary School and Drieforntein Central Primary School in Mvuma. I then did my ‘O’ level and ‘A’ level at Victoria High School and Mashoko High School respectively. In 1999 I enrolled at Africa University to Study Humanities and Social Sciences in Music and Psychology. I chose these subjects because my whole purpose of going to Africa University was to learn music and then develop the Music of Zimbabwe, starting with the instruments of Zimbabwe. I have been doing just that ever since 1999 to this day. Being married and having three children is both an honour and great responsibility which I greatly cherish.
2.How did you get into instrument manufacturing?
My father played the Nhare Mbira which he was taught by the late Father Munyanyi of the Roman Catholic Church in the 80’s at the time when the church was trying to introduce mbira in church. From an early age then I saw the various challenges that both my father and father Munyanyi were facing and I was inspired to carry on their work only this time with greater vigor and determination powered by unprecedented technological advancement. In 2000 we were required to acquire guitars for our guitar class at Africa University and so my Father made me a 4 stringed Banjo for me to practice my guitar chords and it helped me to be top of my class. That inspired me immeasurably to this day. Ever since I have continued to conduct Research and Development of Zimbabwean Music Instruments with the help of Walter Madanhi, my Research and Development Associate. I will not rest until Zimbabwean Music instruments are among the best in the world!
3.Take us through your music instrument catalogue?
Here are our music instruments with the trademark Kombai
|1||Mbira Nhare 22 key||Tuning machine head, Active electric with chromatic tuner and 3 band equalizer, Lockable Hard case with pneumatic support and stand||$550|
|2||Mbira Nyunga-nyunga 15 key||Tuning machine head, Active electric with chromatic tuner and 3 band equalizer, Lockable Hard case with pneumatic support and stand||$450|
|3||Marimba Treble||Active electric with chromatic tuner and 3 band equalizer, Lockable Hard case with pneumatic support and stand||$2 200|
|4||Marimba Tennor||Active electric with chromatic tuner and 3 band equalizer, Lockable Hard case with pneumatic support and stand||$1 800|
|5||Marimba Baritone||Active electric with chromatic tuner and 3 band equalizer, Lockable Hard case with pneumatic support and stand||$2 800|
|10||Hosho and Chisekesa set||$450|
|11||Zvikei and Magagada set||Lockable Hard case with pneumatic support and stand||$350|
|12||Hwamanda||Hard case with pneumatic support and stand||$350|
|13||Nyere set of 3||Lockable Hard case with pneumatic support and stand||$450|
- The covid 19 brought limits to everyone, How did you go through these difficult times?
I do Research and Development and Research is essentially literature review which is reading and Development is manufacturing of prototypes which requires financial resources. During the covid 19 Lockdown virtually no income was available for development so I simply used all the time to read, that is acquiring the critical knowledge needed when I eventually get the resources to resume manufacturing operations.
- What’s your new strategy marketing and distribution?
The covid 19 Pandemic has taught us that we have to utilize more of online platforms for both marketing and distribution of our products. I therefore intend to increase online presence and activity to reach my prospective customers and consumers.
- What are your challenges and how are you going around them?
My major challenge is lack of capital to establish a manufacturing factory so that I can meet the needs of my customers who are mostly corporates such as schools and colleges. These customers of mine do not want the unprofessional arrangement whereby the supplier requires them to pay a deposit upfront and then manufacture the product, then deliver. They have made it clear to me that they want to buy off-the-shelf products which are tried and tested. This means that I need to establish a self-sufficient factory that makes-to-stock rather than make-to-order. I nether have the money to start-up nor the collateral to borrow against. This is my major challenge that gives birth to a plethora of other challenges.
- What vision do you have for your future in the Arts?
My vision is to Establish Hadyana Arts Center which produces and markets Zimbabwean Music Instruments and trains musicians, music teachers and all other stakeholders who partake in our technologies.
- Tell us about your Music on Dimbwa
In 2016 I recorded the Music Album Tsiudzo which I played all the instruments listed in the catalogue and submitted to all Radio stations in Zimbabwe and is available on Sound Cloud. I also recorded two music videos, Mirira Jehovah and Vadzidzi woye which I submitted to Zimbabwe Broadcasting Cooporation (ZBC) and are available on my Kombai Matonhodze YouTube channel. I have toured Tanzania and Malawi in 2011 and 2019 respectively. In 2015 I performed at Harare Festival of the Arts in collaboration with Zanzibar Taarab Ensemble. Currently I have been booked to perform in Senegal in May 2021 and France in June 2021. I am looking forward to representing my beloved country in these upcoming international engagements.
- Closing remarks
Zimbabwe is endowed with unthinkable Cultural Heritage wealth that needs to be tapped into. I believe this can be done through extensive Research and Development which produces state-of-the art Zimbabwean products that are competitive both locally and globally. Eventually our people will consume more of our products thus substituting imports. Our globally competitive products will then increase exports. Both import substitution and export development increases our foreign currency reserves thereby stabilizing and developing our economy. Thank you.
- Kombai Matonhodze in Pictures.
STORY BY TENDAI SAUTA 0772761139