By Lincoln Towindo
Gospel music sensation Mai Shingisai Suluma says she was overcome by emotion when she staged a special performance for President Robert Mugabe at his 89th birthday celebrations hosted by State House staff last month.
The award-winning superstar shed tears upon meeting the Zimbabwean dictator. She said before jetting back to her United States base that she came face-to-face with President Mugabe’s warm and fatherly nature.
Mai Suluma said she was overawed by his wisdom and comprehension of the Word of God. “All my life, I had never imagined being before such an esteemed man. I believe that on that particular day, the Word of God, which says, ‘Your gift shall take you where the kings dine’, was fulfilled,” she said.
“People say I am an emotional person, but that is the nature of gospel music. I have shed tears a couple of times while performing because gospel music touches the heart.
“On the day, we were standing a bit of a distance away from the President and some of the esteemed dignitaries, trying to keep out of the way of the country’s most powerful man.
“But what surprised me and probably triggered the emotions that overwhelmed me was when President Mugabe began making efforts to come closer to where we were standing. He was almost nudging his security people aside.
“Suddenly, all I could remember was him standing right beside me and he was telling me how the Lord has blessed him to get to where he is and about how much he enjoyed our music.
“Listening to what he was saying and looking into his eyes, I could see that what he was saying was coming from the heart.”
Mai Suluma said she received an invitation from Media, Information and Publicity Minister Cde Webster Shamu to perform before the President some time last year.
She said Shamu got the idea after President Mugabe personally requested one of her most popular songs — Nanhasi – during last year’s 21st February Movement celebrations in Mutare.
“It was a very revealing experience; one that will forever remain close to my heart. It was also humbling to hear what he said not only about our music, but, above all, what he also mentioned about God.
“For such a great man to have that much love for and knowledge about God was overwhelming to say the least.”
And would she perform for the President again if given the chance?
“If I get another invitation to play again next year, I would not hesitate. It would be an honour!”