Disability does not mean incapacity: Musician
Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, chronic journalist
WHEN we talk about renowned visually impaired musicians, we think of the names of the late Zimbabwean artist Paul Matavire and South African singer Steve Kekana.
While those musical heroes who brought so much hope to people with disabilities may have fallen, more are to come.
Born and raised in Gwanda, the visually impaired Thembela Sibanda (27) has proven to be a force to be reckoned with in the music industry.
His vocal abilities have earned him a place as the lead singer of renowned gospel groups Zimpraise and Hybrid Psalms.
He recorded a few songs including Zimpraise, the popular anthem Vongwai Jehova.
Sibanda, who is also a vocal coach and songwriter for Hybrid Psalms, said he started singing at an early age.
“My parents told me they realized I had singing talent when I was four years old. When I was in second grade, I joined the school choir and was introduced to choral music.
Singing choral music gave me a better understanding of the music and the dynamics involved. I was able to grasp the concept of notations, ranges and different keys among others, ”he said.
Sibanda said he continued to make music in high school, where he was more exposed to more technicalities behind singing. He said his growth in music can also be attributed to the church when he joined the Praise and Worship team in 2011 while in his third form.
In 2014, after obtaining A level, Sibanda joined Hybrid Psalms. He then joined Zimpraise in 2016 where he is lead singer.
And now Sibanda has started working on his solo career and he started recording his first album in July, which is still in the mixing and mastering stage. He hopes to launch it in February.
The album could have been released now, but Sibanda said financial problems delayed its launch. In the meantime, he records solo sessions which he posts on YouTube and Facebook to increase his fan base.
Outside of music, Sibanda graduated in Social Work from the University of Zimbabwe and is working towards a Masters in Social Work.
He is doing his internship as a social development officer at the Ministry of Civil Service, Labor and Social Welfare and is based in Insiza district.
“I got 14 points at level A and my desire was to study music. My parents, however, insisted that I find a course that would get me a formal job and that’s when I studied social work. That didn’t stop me from doing what I love, which is to be a musician, ”he said.
The artist who learned at Mtshabezi High School said he didn’t have a lot of resources and textbooks to use, so he relied on the help of his friends. He said that just as a sighted person uses his eyes to grasp the concepts he is reading, he uses his ears to grasp the concepts he hears.
“The journey through most of the studies has not been easy. In high school, I didn’t have any braille material, so my friends would read the notes to me. I would master everything just by listening to them. This is what helped me achieve 14 points at level A.
“I had a number of friends and everyone helped me on certain topics. At the tertiary level, the situation is better because I use an app called talk back. This app reads things on my computer and cell phone.
With it I can read my notes, do my research and also use various social media apps like WhatsApp and Facebook. I’m still trying to figure out how to use Instagram.
Sibanda said his determination and love for music kept him focused and the same determination helped him excel in his studies.
“Music is my life. I am able to connect with people through my music. Even though I cannot see them while I am playing, I can feel and feel the joy of my audience while I am playing. By listening I can tell how the audience is feeling.
Sibanda said having a disability shouldn’t stop someone from pursuing their goals.
He also appealed to supporters to help him with resources to enable him to record his music. – @DubeMatutu