By Edwin Nhukarume
Self proclaimed Zim dancehall queen, Lady Squanda – real name Sandra Gazi – who grew up without feeling the affection of her parents, says her childhood days were her most painful experience.
The 27-year-old, who was raised by her maternal grandmother, believes the absence of her parents during her youthful days limited her capabilities and opportunities in life.
Her mother passed away when she was five years old.
In a wide ranging interview, Lady Squanda revealed how she got into music and about her love life.
“It has never been easy growing up without my mother and father especially when I was a child and in my adolescent days.
“Most times I had no one who could come and attend some school functions where parents and guardians were needed to be present.
“The feeling of seeing other children or classmates having their parents around at school functions was so painful,” said Lady Squanda.
The chanter said though she had her grandmother to support her, life was difficult and wished if her parents were around.
“I did not have someone to lean on except my grandmother.
“In my childhood days, I did not have support for a lot of things.
“It is hard for those who grew up with their mothers to understand my story, a mother is important in life and her support is special,” she said.
“Sometimes I could make decisions without help from someone close like a mother who has deep affection for her child.
“I regret some of the decisions that I have made in life,” she added.
Lady Squanda said she wanted to further her education but financial challenges were an impediment to her dreams.
“I passed my ‘O’ Levels but could not proceed to go further because of financial problems, my grandmother could not support further.
“I wanted to go all the way to ‘A’ Level and proceed further with my education.
“My grandmother played a role in educating me and I appreciate what she did,” said Lady Squanda.
She believes she has achieved than some women who grew up with their parents.
“There is a lot that I can thank my grandmother for what she did in my life.
“It is not a fallacy that I have done some things and achieved a lot than some other women who grew up with the support of their mothers and both parents.
“This is because of my grandmother,” she told H-Metro.
Lady Squanda has urged all men and women to take responsibility of their children.
“Every child is important and all of those who neglect their children should reconsider and make sure they support their children.
“It is painful to know there are such people who refuse to take responsibility of their children.
“It is something that someone should not to be proud of to neglect a child, but it is an action that could ruin the future of children,” said Lady Squanda.
The mother of two daughters said she was driven into music after realising that there were few women taking part in music.
She also said she wanted to make sure there is a dominant female voice in Zim dancehall.
“As someone who grew up liking music and listening to the radio a lot, I realised that there were few women in the music industry which was dominated mainly by gospel music and sungura.
“The love of music and wanting to represent women in the industry drove me to get into the studio to record.
“I therefore chose to sing dancehall in my teenage days as there were no or less women dominating in that genre.
“This is how I started and I never looked back till now Lady Squanda is a big name in Zim dancehall,” she said.
For her exploits as an artiste, Lady Squanda has won three awards and once nominated for the National Arts Merit Awards.
“I have three awards that I have been awarded in my musical career.
“I have won the Best Female Award three times in Zim dancehall awards from 2013 to 2015 and once nominated for NAMA awards in 2017 for the Best Female award,” said Lady Squanda.
The Ndinovhaira singer said her dream is to see Zim dancehall going international and compete with the Jamaicans for market.
“Our dancehall should be recognised beyond borders and overseas.
“The culture of always taking Jamaicans to come and perform for us always while they collect large sums of money is not encouraging, but it should give us a lesson that it should be us.
“We should not limit ourselves to be only local, we should also make music that is international so that we are also booked for shows in Jamaica and America or even in countries in Africa like Ghana and Zambia,” she said.
Lady Squanda said she has formed an organisation called Rise and Shine Africa (RasAfrica) to help children being raised by grandmothers.
“There is an organisation that I am running at the moment called RasAfrica to assist underprivileged children especially girls.
“The organisation is just starting and firstly I am donating pants and bras to those children.
“I have realised most of those children do not have those underwear garments,” said Lady Squanda.
“At the moment I have managed to donate in the rural area of Chishawasha.
“There are no donors yet that have pitched in to this initiative because of the economic hardships,” she added.
Lady Squanda singled out the First Lady Auxilia Mnangagwa as her role model.
“I have seen her playing important roles in this country that should be appreciated.
“She has shown that during the days of cholera and a lot of humanitarian works that she has embarked on.
“She is the first to pitch up whenever there is a problem that affects the nation, I respect her since she is a hardworker,” she said.
Lady Squanda who was reported to have been married twice by 2014 opened up about her love life and marriage without giving more details.
“I have two daughters, the first born is nine years old and the second one is two years old.
“I am married, but I will not divulge much about the details of my husband since he does not want publicity,” said Lady Squanda.
She said she wants her children to attain good education.
“Education is very important in life, without it you will struggle in life.
“You are nothing without education.
“I do not want my children to struggle and suffer so I would want them to have the best education and study further as they can,” she said.
She wishes her children to grow in harmony and united.
“I want my children to grow close to each other have love for each other.
“And the rest I do not know, God will take care of them,” said Lady Squanda.
Lady Squanda has been involved in a lot of controversial issues including fighting other artistes, bashing comedian Skimbo, faking her death and many other shenanigans.
She said controversy will always be there and it was not her intention to make headlines on controversial stuff.
“I think everyone is controversial, the only difference is that when someone is on the limelight they are easily noticed by the media and the public.
“There are people who are doing worst things in life but they are left with the public eye unnoticed.
“The other problem is if you are a woman and competing in a male dominated society, people have a tendency to undermine you.
“So sometimes I would fail to handle myself to critics,” she said.
“The other problem is when people do not know what is really happening in your life and the dancehall genre as well.
“In dancehall it happens, controversy is like a religion in this genre,” she added.
Lady Squanda has four albums to her credit namely Squanda Pachigaro released in 2013, The Queen Unleashed (2015), Eight Mabara (2016) and Reality (2017)
She is working on her new album titled Life Is You. H-Metro