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Iron lady of showbiz conquers another world

By Godwin Muzari

She has seen it all in the showbiz industry and many musicians have saluted her through their songs. For almost two decades, Mama Red Rose was a prominent name in the industry. She assisted many upcoming musicians, struck good deals with established artistes and also brought in international singers for memorable concerts.

Mama Red Rose with Jamaican musician Chris Martin
Mama Red Rose with Jamaican musician Chris Martin

She got the moniker Mama Red Rose because of the motherly role that she played. Many artistes have golden memories about how the lady at the helm of Red Rose Entertainment made a difference in their careers. They call her iron lady of showbiz.

Her real name is Barbara Chikosi and she has outclassed all female promoters that failed to stand the heat in the industry that is not only male-dominated, but extremely challenging.

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A poster advertising a Mtukudzi and Macheso show in 2003
A poster advertising a Mtukudzi and Macheso show in 2003

Although she is currently on a short break from active showbiz to concentrate on her other areas of interest, Mama Red Rose is still involved with artistes in many ways and she has promised a strong comeback.

And to prove that she is a hard worker, Mama Red Rose, has conquered another world. While many are still trying to find out why she has taken a break from active showbiz, the iron lady has made a big breakthrough in the world of sport.

Exactly 11 days ago she was voted chairperson of Zimbabwe Women Soccer League, a hot seat that requires her to turn fortunes for the league that is crying loudly for support and sponsorship.

Mama Red Rose with the Mighty Warriors
Mama Red Rose with the Mighty Warriors

As she went down memory lane yesterday, revisiting her achievements in showbiz, Mama Red Rose also shared her vision for women soccer in the country.

She was in celebratory mood, but was quick to say the new role is not an easy assignment. Just like the hard work she put to sail through showbiz, Mama Red Rose needs to defy odds and make a difference.

Her major vision is to uplift the girl child. She wants to advocate for opportunities that put the girl on an equal footing with her male counterparts. Mama Red Rose says she wants to take advantage of the popularity of soccer in the country to push her advocacy.

Uplifting women has been her mission for many years. She proved it in showbiz when she came up with the Gospel Divas concept that promoted many popular names in music.

Gospel Divas was an annual concert that brought together female gospel singers. Each year, the concert brought together about 30 female musicians on one stage and it pulled huge crowds.

Musicians that took part at Gospel Divas include Mai Charamba, Mercy Mutsvene, Carol Mujokoro, Agatha Murudzwa, Joyce Simeti, Bethen Pasinawako, Olinda Marowa, Mai Patai, Barbara Chivaura, Linia Utete, Amanda Sagonda, Hannah Chikosi-Mapepeta, Irene Tigere-Mutangadura and Talent Madiro among others.

It also hosted South African singers Rebecca Malope and Buhle Nhlangulela who came to share notes with their local counterparts.

Despite her reduced showbiz activity, Mama Red Rose’s concept is going to the UK this year. Red Rose Entertainment is working with partners in UK to host the Gospel Divas concert on August 25 in Leicester.

Gospel Divas was one of the many concepts that Mama Red Rose popularised as she made her historic adventure in showbiz.

Other concepts include Vapostori Festival, Mbira Music Festival, Sungura Clash, King of Dancehall, Ignition Concerts and Ghetto vs Ghetto dancehall showdown.

As she did her other shows around the country, she worked with most top local musicians and also brought in foreign musicians that include Jamaicans Capleton (King Shango), Turbulance and Chris Martin.

From Botswana came Jeff Matheatau, Franco and Vee of the “Taku Taku” fame while South Africans Mafikizolo and DJ Cleo as well as Amayenge from Zambia performed here courtesy of Red Rose Entertainment.

“I was one of the first promoters to organise Macheso’s shows in Harare and I remember something unexpected that happened at one of the gigs. The show featured Macheso and Mtukudzi. Mtukudzi used to have sold-out shows on his own, but I decided to bring in Macheso at one of his concerts,” she recalled.

“Most people that attended Mtukudzi’s shows did not like Macheso. He rarely performed in Harare those days. So, when Mtukudzi finished his slot, most people walked out because they underestimated Macheso.

“But Macheso came on stage full of energy and surprised those that were still in the show. Some even came back after being tipped that Macheso was doing wonders on stage. He won the hearts of many that initially disliked him.

“Since that show, I had many gigs with him in big venues and his profile grew bigger. He is one of the musicians I worked with for a long time. I also took him for shows in Botswana and South Africa.”

The other show she remembers well was the King of Dancehall Clash in the Harare Gardens. It was one of the first concepts to popularise Zimdancehall clashes.

“Zimdancehall was just beginning to grow and we did a clash featuring Winky D, Badman, Sniper Storm and others. Winky D won the contest and he went on to do a song about it. He was a rising star then. Now he is a big star. Many other show organisers began doing clashes as the genre got more popular.”

She also talked about her trip to Muzarabani to look for Njerama Boys.

“Njerama Boys’ songs were getting popular, but they were not doing live shows. I drove to Muzarabani to look for them and we organised a show. I brought them to Harare days before the show and we did shopping for their stage outfits and bought other necessities for the performance.

“The show was at Aquatic Complex in Chitungwiza and there was a good crowd. Unfortunately the band failed to perform to expectations because of stage fright. I tried to convince them to stay longer for more shows, but their leader Paradzai Mesi had other ideas. He is not easy to deal with. He said they would remain based in Muzarabani.”

She has dealt with many such difficult characters that are common in showbiz, but she kept strong.

It is the same strength that she will use to steer women soccer in the country. She already has experience in the field, having worked with female footballers when her Red Rose Salon business was still based in Mufakose.

She sponsored Mufakose Queens for some time until her business moved to the CBD. She was out of soccer for some years and decided to return when she joined the Zimbabwe Football Trust

She then became chairperson of Cyclone Stars and got into the Women Soccer League as board member (finance).

She was in the board for a year culminating in her successful contest at the recent elections for chairperson.

She has big dreams and hopes to make a difference in women soccer. She still has bigger dreams for showbiz and has vowed to return in a big way. The Herald