By Trevor Makonyonga
Zimbabwean poet, Takudzwa “VaChikepe” Chikepe was recently nominated for an award at this year’s International Reggae and World Music Awards (IRAWMA).
Bustop TV caught up with him and had a chat about his life leading up to this nomination. In the conversation, Bustop TV’s Trevor Makonyonga (TM) had a one on one with Takudzwa Chikepe (TC).
TM: Hie, can you please tell us a little bit about VaChikepe’s childhood and his upbringing?
TC: I was brought up in a Christian family. My grandfather was a United Methodist reverend from my mother’s side and my other grandfather was an elder in the Apostolic Church, Mwazha. For our family we grew up in the AFM, Christian doctrine. Hence, I grew up inquisitive about Divinity and Theology and movies inspired me a lot. My sister and video games were my friends and telling stories from my imagination in class.
TM: How did you develop love for art?
TC: I used to see Art from afar! For example, seeing people singing in choir, acting dramas, poetry and traditional dance. But when I realized that they are doing all this to please people or for the people, I realized that I am also an Artist.
I grew up comfortable in my own audience, but when I needed attention, I would make sure I get it. Thus, if art is created to interact with people or for the people then I am born an artist and loving art.
TM: I understand you are well travelled, which countries have you performed in and how is the appreciation of your art?
TC: That is true and my Poetry breakthrough came in 2018, when I performed in Virginia, US at Bridgewater International Poetry Festival (BIPF)_where I was in the top ten Best Poets, then WestEnd Poetry Festival in North Carolina in 2018; and again, I was in the top 10 at BIPF amongst all other smaller Poetry functions I attended and performed.
The US, is my home and stage when it comes to Poetry! I call it “The Land of Poetry” and the people there, they love my Poetry so much; because they are good listeners and I am a deep thinker; besides the fact that opportunities are all over in the US.
TM: The nomination in Jamaica for the International Reggae and World Music Awards (IRAWMA), what does it mean to you?
TC: This is a great joy to my Spirit and soul and even great energy to my body. Because, the life of an Artist is not an easy road, especially before you are a successful Artist who is financially stable. With this nomination, it means God is watching over me, He hasn’t forsaken me and the future is bright. Meaning all my accomplishments to date, are just a sign of more to come.
Through with this nomination, my potential has been measured, it is already a success story, hence I see more collaborations in Jamaica and the world at large and I am also seeing my Art becoming deeper and richer on the international arena.
TM: How would you describe the feeling you got after being nominated?
TC: Deep Appreciation of Jamaica, Mutabaruka and all my friends there! Assurance that my dreams are unfolding and God is in control. It was an amazing surprise; I am still surprised myself with the nomination.
TM: You are from Norton where youngsters have been going wild, how have you been using art to change the situation in your community ?
TC: My Poetry is thought provoking and I make sure that I post it all over on social media. This has created a good contact for me and the youths. I am also a Zimdancehall Artist, who specializes in singing Poetry and Divinity.
This has also connected me to more youths and the whole of 2019, I was hosting Open mic Poetry shows at PaKare Paye PaMtukudzi, as a way of teaching Poetry and enhancing an Arts connection. Right now, I am a Preacher at Methodist Church in Zimbabwe; meaning all my sermons are enveloped in Art, again a super connection with the Church youths.
This is how far, I have covered, although there are more projects in the pipeline.
TM: How powerful do you think poetry is in the society?
TC: Poetry is the well-established and received sixth sense in the society, the missing puzzle to common sense and a powerful weapon used to groom leaders and sharpen visions. Poetry is a scarce commodity in the society, but very powerful. As a matter of fact, Poets are better scientists! Although they are too lazy to do practicals and measuring their brain potentials (they call this, “too busy thinking and avoiding not to think”)
TM: I have seen that you have done music and been featured in anthologies, what next can we expect from VaChikepe?
TC: I might dive into Divinity or Metaphysics or film industry or become a product of everything I have mastered so far. Unless I am to become something else only God knows what! All I know is Poetry is a Gift from God and I am still yet to find out the true meaning of Poetry in my life and in our lives. Hence, travelling is a must and financial stability is the key to many more open doors.
TM: I know that when we were growing up you had a hand in DJing, you were a head prefect too, how did these aspects play out for you in your adult life?
TC: That is true, then I became the dorm monitor, Rugby Captain, Athletics Captain, Entertainment President and the Headboy at Nyatsime College, as my father is also a retired soldier from the Army. All this made me a leader, it engraved responsibilities in me, “kukoshesa zvinhu zvakakosha” and to not only look after myself, but like a soldier to be always on the lookout for others! Because victory celebrated by many becomes the real victory (soccer fans know this) that is the reason why I am grooming the 100 Sailors and also partnering with many more African Poets and Artists in the Sailors Review and Sailors International Affiliates projects.
Also with this Mutabaruka nomination, I have been openly elevated to become an African Arts Ambassador.
TM: Lastly, what is the role of family in all that you do?
TC: Family is the most important aspect of life. The definition of life comes from family. I am a product of an amazing family background that have supported my gift through thick and thin and that has left a deep-seated impact in my life.
I also understand that other people’s family backgrounds are not as attaching! In this case, I would say family can also be constructed and even reconstructed because it is both a need and a must have! Can you be a family to yourself? I guess it is a story for another day.