Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Charambas at crossroads

By Prince Mushawevato

The gospel power couple of Pastors Charles and Olivia Charamba is in a fix!

Charambas in their Gunhill house
Charambas in their Gunhill house

They formed Rooted in Christ Ministries in October last year after leaving the Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM), in which they had ministered as pastors for two decades.

But creating a balance between the music and church business is proving to be a challenge.

A general feeling among their followers is that they are gradually drifting away from music, focusing more on the new church. Apparently, Rooted in Christ Ministries is growing faster than they had anticipated and now requires more of their attention.

In fact, the church, which is stationed at David Livingstone Primary School, seems to be overtaking their music influence. Previously they were holding their services at the Zimbabwe College of Music and Ambassador Hotel but the congregation outgrew those venues.

Accordingly, the couple is now sacrificing live gigs and studio time to dedicate more time to the church. Clearly the revered couple find themselves in a quandary.

They are dithering between pleasing the highly demanding music fans and fulfilling their new found mission.

It is now rare to come across an advertisement for a Fishers of Men (Pastor Charamba’s backing group) gig, both in and outside the capital.

They now only feature briefly at corporate functions or at charity events like last month’s Air Force of Zimbabwe “Winter Warmer Charity” show. Other than that, they simply fulfil annual events like when they entertained retiring health personnel at Harare Hospital free of charge.

To make matters worse, their recent offerings “WeNazareta”, “Abba Father” and “Voice of Miriam” received tepid responses from the public.

Over the years, the Charambas have helped popularise gospel music through recorded music and enchanting live performances. Their gigs in venues like Harare Gardens, Aquatic Complex and the Harare International Conference Centre (HICC) were a must attend.

But the gospel first family’s enthusiasm for music is fading. Some critics even argue that this is one of the major reasons why worship shows have somewhat lost their lustre.

Live show attendance figures have slumped over the years.

But giants such as Alick Macheso, Winky D and Jah Prayzah stand as beacons of hope in their respective genres. They have employed strategies that have kept them afloat.

Could the establishment of the church indeed be the reason for the Charambas’ shift of focus?

Speaking to The Sunday Mail Society, Pastor Charamba attributed the development to blossoming responsibilities.

“Apart from music and church, we have other responsibilities that include goodwill-ambassadorial duties, board membership, parental, music lectures and mentorship programmes. Some responsibilities come with age, some are inevitably brought about by our experience and stay in the arts sector,” said Pastor Charamba.

However, he grudgingly conceded that they have slowed down on music. Could they be “dumping” music? Is it no longer a viable trade for them?

“We have not taken leave, but just minimised the number of public performances. Live concerts can be so consuming such that you can lose track of time. We have been immersed in them since 1997. By 1999 we got on a musical roller-coaster and went overdrive in 2001 until recent months.

“We thank God for granting us the ability to manage shows in a way that allows us to monitor and interact with our children. Being parents of five, we have noted that this period is critical in the development of our children. That is why we have slowed down on musical outings,” he said.

He further buttressed the point.

“Besides the above, it is also our sincere observation that musical concerts, particularly gospel, are best done in a thriving economic environment. We regard it robbery to be asking people to pay for a concert when they are struggling to provide for their families. We did the same in 2008. We would rather pray for the economic environment to improve.”

Frequent release of new and captivating music is an easy way to maintain grip on fans, even if less shows are held. However, the couple is found wanting in this regard. They last did a 2017 double album launch and promised new releases on an annual basis.

Nothing new or even a hint of a fresh project has come from the duo thus far. Nonetheless, efforts have been made to release videos for songs produced between 2002 and 2017.

“Africa Restore Identity” (video redo), “ZvepaCalvary”, “Rega Kundisiya”, “Mwaka”, “Ndiregerere”, “Abba Father”, “Ndiri Munana” and “Takavinga Denga”, are some of the videos produced so far.

According to Pastor Charamba, the videos have also consumed time for recording of new songs.

Critics however say that “the videos are Pastor Charamba’s way of preserving relevance in music without toiling much.”

“The music recording aspect is very much intact. We can even use even odd hours to do so but for now, videos are coming out till year end, then new songs. We are born again musicians that were assigned and commissioned to preach.

“We, therefore, shall continue to compose, sing, record and release music regardless of time constrains. For now, we are going through a divining moment for the church ministry and may appear to be allocating more time towards that. However, this isn’t absolutely true,” said Pastor Charamba.

Pastor Charamba believes God has for long spoken to him about starting a new revival. He said his 2010 album “Pashoko Pangoma” answers questions to do with their church and music. The Sunday Mail