By Prince Mushawevato
HARARE – Aaron Chiundura Moyo’s name means different things to different people – but he is most famous for being the brains behind Zimbabwe’s first ever soap opera, Studio 263.
At 64 and still enjoying bachelorhood, Chiundura Moyo is indeed an enigma.
To claim to present him in a story of a thousand or so words is a fallacy; he cannot be captured in a few paragraphs.
“I have never celebrated in my life, not even kneel down to pray to God or my ancestors, because I have suffered more than I have been happy,” said Chiundura Moyo in response to pleasantries from The Sunday Mail Leisure news crew.
These sentiments, straight from the brilliant brains of the celebrated novelist, scriptwriter, producer, playwright and actor, naturally raised the curiosity of this writer.
But alas, the creative genius was already on another matter – his desire to create another blockbuster television series – one that might possibly surpass the hit drama “Zviri mudendere” which won the hearts of many ZBC TV viewers, way back in the 90s.
“A witch, a housemaid, a doctor, a policeman, a man of the cloth, a civilian, a dog; with these in place and funding, I will deliver a sitcom that will compete internationally,” he said confidently.
To say the man is complex is an understatement – the man is a rib-cracker, a philosopher, a teacher, a law unto himself and a “madman”.
Yes, a madman; is it not how the world describes a genius, how the world describes anyone that they do not understand or fail to explain?
“Vanonditi ndinopenga (they say I’m crazy) because of my approach to life,” he said.
Chiundura Moyo appears to be ultrasensitive – a guy whose every nerve is exposed and reacts to the slightest of touch.
Naturally, the absence of a missus in the house prompts the writer to make an inquiry on the subject.
But surprise surprise – the man is not rubbed the wrong way by the question. In fact, he is eager to explain his long “bachelorhood”.
In the process, he conceitedly suggests that women have bothered him for marriage for the greater part of his life and still do, yet he prefers being single.
“I have been married once,” he said with an expression that says I have been there, done it and seen it all.
The writer was once married to the late actress Sithembeni Makawa, popularly known as Mai Gweshegweshe who featured in the popular comedy series “Gringo”, until he moved on and sired two more kids in another relationship.
The union with the late Sithembeni always created all sorts of problems for him with the public “accusing me of using the film set as a courting turf”, he contends.
“Just getting married to someone for the sake of it is wrong. I don’t want to be a beast in somebody’s life. I appreciate couples who have been together for decades, to me they are heroes. It will require a tough person to mould me; I have stayed a bachelor for long and being single, just like getting married, has its own advantages. If being a bachelor was a challenge then I would have long been dead,” said Chiundura Moyo.
He concedes that having been engrossed in his work, the bus of marriage has long passed him.
Evidently, the man who only started his primary education at the age of 15 has not stopped making life sacrifices for the advancement of his career and ambitions.
He dropped out of university in 2002 after he failed to juggle between his studies and the production of “Studio 263”. And he feels he cannot force matters.
“I was married to my work and that was my fault, I wanted to get rich first, but God had other plans for me. If you have three kids and you are over 60 and still want to get married, then you are insane.
“I cannot help wonder what my kids will think if I start courting to get married. Obviously they will get worried that they will lose the little that I have worked for over all these years,” he says without batting an eyelid.
Chiundura Moyo says he came close to being a “normal human being” when he got into formal employment.
He said it was then that he noticed there was more to life than the “trivial celebrity” life and the associated behaviour.
Unfortunately for him, some decisions he had long made had already granted an unchangeable course of his life.
“I used to have the typical ‘wayward’ behaviour of an artiste, I was a slave of art, but at ZBC I became an employee, with bosses and colleagues. I was my own man but I had others to consider as well, to report to, it was no longer all about me.
“I became a human being, I sort of got out of my world and into another where I travelled around the country, interviewed other people, including Government officials and that made me realise the other side of life that I did not know,” explained Chiundura Moyo.
He adds: “At ZBC I became ‘normal’, I ceased to be a recluse. Previously I was the famous writer who did not own much, whom people interrogated and I preferred to stay indoors. At ZBC I was no longer a celebrity, I was a typical employee and behaved as such.”
Unlike most veteran artistes who seem to believe that theirs is the only original work and epitome of creativity – Chiundura Moyo believes that there are very good writers out there helping bridge the gap.
“They lack support,” he says in reference to the new generation of writers.
The celebrated author took a swipe at publishers whom he accused of “stealing” from the writers.
“Our relationship with publishers is now weak. We are only bound together by the percentages that we agree on for our books.
“I have more than 15 books and I am currently finalising a new one, but I don’t find copies of my works in bookshops anymore. Sometimes we get the feeling that they (publishers) are putting our books in the streets through the backdoor.
“And they are using the disabled people who do not get arrested to sell the books. Empowerment does not mean celebrating thievery,” fumed the novelist.
With a heavy heart, he concedes that he will not enjoy the fruits of his labour in this lifetime. But for him the battle for his dues will be passed on to his children.
“I wanted my son to become a lawyer so that he defends my legacy after I’m gone.
“However, he is now a journalist and I think that will still work. Probably my children will benefit more from my talent than I did. Who knows? Maybe these publishers are waiting for me to die for them to release my work,” he said.
The novelist bemoaned the “death” of the Zimbabwe International Book Fair (ZIBF). According to him, ZIBF was once a writer’s pride and paradise with “free access and guaranteed participation”.
“We had free access but that is no longer the case. We now pay to attend and it appears the fair is now a sellers’ event driven by commercial motives.”
Chiundura Moyo was born in 1950.
He was inspired by the success of the likes of the late Safirio Madzikatire and Bishop Patrick Chakaipa, Giles Kuimba, Webster Shamu and George Shaya.
His first production was “Uchandifungawo” while some of his other works include “Ziva Kwawakabva”, “Yaive Hondo”, “Wandibaya PaNyama Nhete” and “Kuridza Ngoma Nedemo”. The Sunday Mail