I clearly recall the first time I met Mwenje Mathole. He walked into the studio with a big ole’ smile on his face. There was something about him, but at that point I wasn’t sure what it was. I soon discovered what it was when he opened his mouth …he is an old soul, and it also reflects in his music. There is a maturity in the way he pours over notes and clinging melodies, from his hilarious yet romantic song Chimbudzi to the smooth collaboration with Masa – Paye.
Born in a family of singers, writers and poets, all things art flow in his blood. Mwenje Mathole is an ‘African-Zimbabwean artist born in Gweru and grew up in Kwekwe in the midlands province. He later moved to Harare for his first degree at the University of Zimbabwe, and he’s now based in the country’s capital.’ He believes he became an artist long before he knew he was one – turning every life changing moment into a poem and every emotion into song. He’s inspiration is traced back to his parents and their love for words and art in all its forms. Apparently, he listens to everything from Rhythm and blues, jazz, contemporary sounds from all over the world. Anytime, his playlist can easily include tracks from Mukanya, Richard Bona, Matter Physics, Something Sowetho, Jah Prayzah, Sharon Manyika, Tracy Chapman, Alexio Kawara, Yossou Ndour, Kanye West, Richard Bona, Prudence Katomeni, Rute Mbangwa, Jordan Sparks, Sona Jobateh, Salif Keita, Morgan Heritage, Ringo and many more. Clearly this is a young man who knows his music.
Listening to his music – it’s refreshing and new, in an era where the most popular sounds are influenced by the Naija sound, bongo flava sound popularised by the Tanzanian Daimond Platnumz or the South African house or Amapiano sounds … yes, refreshing is the word. When I asked Mwenje to describe his music he says it’s ‘…a music that speaks to the soul about God’s Love In Yeshua His Son having everything to do with everything pertaining everything in and outside life, even far beyond the man made and foreign packaged boundaries of religion.’ Quite poetic huh? That’s Mwenje Mathole for you. A walking, talking, thinking and feeling art piece. He has a way of making you feel like he would rather be nowhere else rather than right there, talking about the silliest of things and making it seem like a world changing issue. A few minutes chatting with Mwenje a few things stand out, one of them is that he is a man firm in his belief and religion plays a big role in his existence which can be rare in the industry. Its easy to talk, but walking the talk can be a hurdle.
With one album under his belt Musharukwa released in 2020, the album is one to keep with my favorite romantic track Chimbudzi. The foundation of the release was set years back as Mwenje worked with various established artists within the Zimbabwean music industry and beyond. The likes of Naboth Mathole, Hughclaid Kalino, Masa Caroleen, Corny 3DKeys, JCMC (China), KJah Sound (Poland), Leonard Mapfumo, Alexio Kawara, Mono Mukundu, Victor Kunonga, Boss Gidza, Audinance Kuimba, Vion Music, Tafadzwa Chingono, Innocent Rugube, Jairos Hambahamba, and more. He’s music is packed with sincerity, ingenuity and comedy.
Life tides have led this young man through many waves and one of them deposited him straight on to the theatre stage, where he has become quite a hit. He has starred in various productions like Mambo Shava, Spear Of Love, Ndure, Inside Out, Tokwe Mukosi, The Storm and Harvest Of Thorn. He’s quite a hit with local theatre companies in the country, as he sets out to explore every talent he has been endowed with.
In the next five years watch out for the Mwenje Mathole brand. He hopes to improve himself in the wholeness of life, and his musical technical skills, marketing (Mwenje Mathole) brand through unique and outstanding visuals, growing his arts company and venturing more into other artistic ministries of his talents while prioritising people & music, record and release two albums separately towards intercontinental recognition (in popular & non popular culture circles), gain a better financial muscle to assist other young people’s dreams, record more collaborations with local, regional and international artists for a better musical worldview and growth and start and growing his family in all spheres of life.
Had he not taken the ‘art’ way he most likely would be a teacher, in his own words – ‘catching life and inspiring it into any positive dream of its choice whilst lives are still in their most crucial level and impressionable state.’ Ladies I hate to disappoint you but the young man is dating and looking for ushamwari: vulnerability, Oneness, Respect, Longevity, selflessness & supportive ambitiousness, encouragement, the ability to recognize, receive, cherish and appreciate adoration and it’s gestures, Teamliness, Ideological & Biological Reproduction in a potential life partner.’
The hope is that Mwenje Mathole’s art one day will be known and appreciated by many, because HE is an art that should be celebrated. Here’s to the Mwenje Mathole brand, the release of national, regional and international music, to more collaborations, theatre pieces more love and joy.