Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

No jokes in English from me: Baba Tencen

By Vasco Chaya

Rising comedian Baba Tencen, who shared the stage with popular Ugandan comedian Anne Kansiime at the Harare International Conference last night, says he will never incorporate English into his comedy skits.

Baba Tencen PROMOTING Kuripwa Kugara T-shirts
Baba Tencen PROMOTING Kuripwa Kugara T-shirts

The South Africa-based comedian says using English will take away his competitive edge.

“I will stick to my Shona language because I am not very fluent in English. Apart from that, I became a celebrity through doing Shona jokes.

“I will never switch into English because there are a lot of good and talented actors in the world such as South Africa’s Trevor Noah whom I cannot compete with,” said Baba Tencen.

The stance of Baba Tencen, whose comedy skits on social earned him R100 000 from controversial businessman Wicknell Chivayo, is at variance with Kansiime.

In the run-up to last night’s show, Kansiime who has close to two million followers on Facebook, urged local artists including Baba Tencen to use English which will expose them to a wider audience.

“I encourage local actors to try to hit their punches in English as it is a universal language and by this, they can break into the international arena.

“It will be easier for them to reach a wider audience,” the African queen of comedy told journalists a day before her Harare International Conference Centre show.

Clearly, the use of English has made Kansiime one of Africa’s most travelled artists but despite that Baba Tencen- who has become a national icon thanks to a series of riveting video clips that include Kuripwa Kugara, Kuripwa Zvihuta and Kuripwa Kugara muinformal settlement- has refused to be swayed by her advice.

“People love me as I am, not only in Zimbabwe but even in South Africa where I am based. I perform in packed venues in South Africa and my audience includes people of all races, some of them who do not understand Shona but they follow me whenever I perform.

“One only needs to be good at whatever one does regardless of the language used. People love and follow me because I am good when it comes to making them laugh despite my Shona,” he said.

The Chivi-born Baba Tencen, who reportedly crossed into South Africa a few years ago in search of work, says his success is triumph over big challenges.

“I grew up as a single-parented child in Chivi….Who have imagined that a rural boy like me would make waves both at home and in foreign lands? I recorded my first skit in 2006 using my phone and it went viral after I posted it on Facebook.

“As a result I began to make more skits with the help of my manager Joe Tendai,” he said before last night’s show which was his maiden show in his homeland. Daily News