Tafadzwa Blessing

Episode 01

Blessing’s Story: A CHITUNGWIZA BOY
Read by:  Kudzai Mangombe & John Pfumojena

Writer: Zodwa Nyoni
Director: Anastasia Osei-Kuffour
Sound Designer: Adam McCready
Producers: Saziso Phiri & Laura Ford

We Need New Stories – Watch Tadfadzwa Blessing Magore’s Oral History Interview that inspired this Episode 


Tafadzwa Blessing Magore.

My name is Tafadzwa Blessing Magore, but I’m mainly known as Blessing Magore. I’m a musician, music teacher, DJ, producer – anything to do with music…I’m the guy. I was born in Chitungwiza, which is a small town outside the capital city of Zimbabwe. Which is Harare. Yeah, just outside there.

Yeah. It was quite a big family. I lived with both my parents. Then they split up. And so I’ve been one city with my dad, one city with my mum, then sometimes I lived with my grandma, actually, half of my life in Zimbabwe, I live with my grandmother. I don’t like to call him a grandmother. I like to call him my mother. Because when my mum came to the UK, she became my mother. So my mum never saw my teen life. But my grandmother, she saw that part of my life that you know, adoles.. what do you call it. Adolescent is it? Right. Yeah. So that that part she saw that but my grandmother, she was she was in politics. Brief history she was she was best friends with the first the former former First Lady, the late First Lady, Sally Mugabe. So they used to travel a lot together. And she joined the police force. I think sometime in the 90s then left the police force, and she went back into politics and ran for a seat. For I think it was for Chitungwiza North in Zimbabwe. Yeah, so I was surrounded a lot by a politician. So, but besides politics, like she was, she was a community woman, she had a great heart, like everyone just knew who she was, even if you’re, if you’re in the street they would be like like, “Oh, you are Joyce Kunaka’s grandchild, child, you know, because she was quite, she was quite popular. So she died, she passed away in 2011. And she was given a special burial in Zimbabwe. So this is where all the heroes are buried. So she became a provincial hero. And yeah, she was laid to rest in a very nice place. It was a state of assisted funeral. And yeah,

I left Zimbabwe, because my mum moved here. So she came here as a student. I came afterwards. So I came afterwards. So I think the arrangement that was there was for me to do all my schooling in Zimbabwe, and then, yeah, then, come later, my mum was a secretary for a British company. So in Zimbabwe, around 2000, there was a bit of commotion with the farmers, the British farmers in Zimbabwe, and the then president was Robert Mugabe. And so a lot of land was seized from the British farmers. And which led to Zimbabwe going under sanctions by European countries, so they no longer trade. So a lot of British companies, they ended up closing from then things never really, you know, it was it was really bad. The the economy went down, went downhill, and yeah, I remember, the inflation was so high. I think the highest note you could get was like $1 trillion, which is a lot of zeros on one note, and that 1 trillion couldn’t even buy you two eggs, you know? So I remember back in the days people used to walk with heaps of cash, you know, which was literally useless on weightless on Yeah, it was it was quite, it was quite bad. You couldn’t have savings and so forth. So which led to getting rid of our currency, you know, so we ended up just adopting other currencies like the US dollars and the South African Rands, the Botswana Pula. It did help to certain degree into terms of exporting stuff because obviously you’ve got foreign currency, so you can but in terms of circulating money now, like the banks, they couldn’t really because it’s not our currency. So it led to a lot of black markets. So you could get fuel from just the black market and everything was just expensive, you know, because it’s in, it’s in US dollars. So the old clothes so like my mum was the only secretary there. So it was kind of

given that option to say, “If you want to come with us, you can come along then you can start your new life here”. So for so Mum decided to come to the UK to study medicine. So yeah, so now she’s, she’s a doctor. Yeah. So me coming to the UK I was just coming to join her and start a new life. Yeah, from my knowledge, because obviously I wasn’t here because we were like seven years away from each other. But yeah, it was quite a struggle. You know, like, if you’re coming up, you’re coming from Zimbabwe. You’re leaving your whole family, everything. You’re starting a new life. And I remember yes, she was studying but she was working in the train station. She was sweeping there, she worked at the Ice Arena. She was just a cleaner and same time studying, so yeah. My sisters are still in Zimbabwe. So I’m my mum’s only child and my sisters are from my dad. They’re doing well. The first one she studied Business, so she or she’s working in a small firm in Zimbabwe as manager there. My other sister, she is a chartered accountant now, she graduated two years ago. So yeah, she’s also working for an accounting firm in Zimbabwe. She’s doing well. Really well. Then I’ve got my youngest sister. She just finished my writing GCSE is yeah, now so yeah. The process of coming to the UK itself. It’s very hard you know, just even getting a visa to come here. I mean, I’m sure they’d love to, I’d love to see them you know, but I think I think where they are they’ve got good jobs they’ve got you know yeah, they’ve got a good life, basically. My coming the UK was just sudden you know, like this thing where like once you get your visa you do not tell anyone until you’re on the plane. So yeah, it was all of a sudden like so I sent my application for the visa and before it even arrived my mum in faith just said “Yeah, getting you the ticket”, so the ticket was there already then I got my visa and it was it was quite a big thing because no one in my family in terms of like my dad’s side of family no one had ever travelled abroad so I was like the first son in the family to go so like I went – my grandmother’s came, my uncle’s came you know. Like it was just a whole big family send off you know, and they were like “Blessing, be careful, you know it’s gonna be cold when you get there. Get some warm clothes”, and I got some warm clothes that I thought were warm clothes because I arrived in October November time so we’re just really getting into Winter time. So yeah, I travelled in a plane before but more like a school trips little jets but this was my first time actually flying in a commercial plane and the long hours travelling but yeah. Then I got here. Mum was waiting for me at the airport and yeah, it was quite cold you know? It’s quite it was quite cold. I think I arrived around three/four, but obviously with the weather like it was a bit weird because like it was it was like this – usually when it’s like this is it looks like it’s still in the morning. But you know, it was already late in the afternoon. So yeah, those, changing times and yeah. Yeah, it was quite, quite quite an experience.

Well, my mum said, “We are going to baptise you”, and I was baptised by a massive KFC bucket was like yeah, she was like “This is yours, just eat”. So yeah, that was that was my first food. Living with my mum, she was she has always kept it traditional. You know, she always tried to incorporate our sadza, our rice with peanut butter, which is another nice delicacy. That’s my favourite dish actually rice and peanut butter and some mince and yeah. There are certain things that we take for granted here which we hardly had, you know, in Zimbabwe. Electricity. We have it in vast you know, and the language like I went to good school I learnt English, but still it was quite….you know? So yeah, in terms of understanding each other, like I used to kind of struggle, you know, the accent. The phrases I had that shocked me for the first time. Like was like ‘innit’. Like, ‘ay up me duck’, you know? Yeah, just those little, little things. Yeah. I’ve become a Nottingham city lad now. So, yeah. So in terms of school, I did most of my schooling in Zimbabwe. So my primary school high school sort of just after I finished my GCSEs that’s when I came to the UK and I went to New College Nottingham to study music production.

Music Tech, yeah. Yeah, work was easy. Finding a job here was so easy. My first job was at Burger King. The one in Parliament Street. Yeah, I was a cashier. So it was great. Just meeting people face to face. I think that really helped me with language as well. And you know, just understanding people. So yeah, I enjoyed every part of that. Long hours. Standing for a long time. Yeah, but sometimes you get rude customers as well. But you know, I always, always tried to keep my composure all the time. I’ve never experienced any unfair treatment. I mean, when I came to Nottingham, I was quite well received. You know, everyone was welcoming. It was great. Plus, I just enjoy doing music. So every time when I sing, people, they just love what I was doing. So yeah, it was it was it was great. My views about the UK slightly a little bit because it was mainly more like a fantasy for me. Just seeing it on the TV. Like, I think when I was a kid, I used to watch Mr. Bean a lot. So that kind of gave me an idea of what the UK is like, but just seeing the reality of it. Yeah. My views have changed. It’s kind of more diverse country now. And, you know, so yeah. Cultural differences? Not quite because obviously is you know, like Zimbabwe, it’s a British colony. So like, even Nottingham was twinned to Harare. You know, so not really, I think one of the, one of the most things was was mainly the language, really, the accent and you know, like, I would thinkthat I’m speaking proper English then I’m like, now we don’t understand what you’re saying. Like I remember. I wanted to say like, I like sadza. I like to eat sadza with the cow intestines. You know, it’s kinda like a delicacy in, Zimbabwe, and I said, “intest-ines”. That’s how we say intestines. So people were like, “What’s what’s intes-tines? Oh, you mean intestines”. Yeah, so like those little nuances, you know, I mean, yeah. Sadza in Zimbabwe it’s like the staple food, you go to any household, you just see Sadza, you know, but here there’s a lot of variety. You know, you know, you can have Turkish food you can have Nigerian food, you can have Italian you know, so it’s, it’s yeah, it’s quite quite diverse. Yeah, compared to Zimbabwe.

For me music has been like the centre of my of my world, you know, and the happiest time of my life in Zimbabwe is when I formed a band and we got a chance to to play with some prominent Zimbabwean musicians, you know, the likes of Oliver Mtukudzi, Chiwoniso Maraire…Yeah, it was quite…the happiest moment of my life. It’s very diverse. Because in Zimbabwe we have welcomed so many genres. You know, like Reggae music is big in Zimbabwe, because, you know the legend Bob Marley came to Zimbabwe in 1980. And you made such a huge influence in terms of the Reggae music now. Dancehall which is like a sub genre of Reggae music has kind of grown to a point where Zimbabweans, they now name their own Dancehall called the Zim dancehall, and they even have their own award shows, which is, you know, Zim Dancehall Awards. Yeah, it’s quite, quite diverse. So you go into one area, it’s all Jamaican music, you go to another area, it’s all rock music, you go into the area, it’s, yeah, we’re quite, you’re quite diverse, and very traditional as well, like, our traditional music is always there. So this is a Zimbabwean instrument, mainly originated around Zimbabwe, this southern part of Africa. So this one is called the Nyunga Nyunga Mbira. There are different types of mbiras. So this one, it’s a smaller version, but there are other, bigger mibras. So yeah, Zimbabwe is quite a very, very small country. So building a music career in Zimbabwe, it’s a bit difficult. Compared to the UK, you know, you’re talking about, like the UK is, you know, is one of the biggest countries in terms of exporting music. Internationally. You know, we’re talking about the Beatles. And, you know, the list is endless. Like you can literally go to Zimbabwe and you’ll be hearing Ed Sheeran on the radio. That’s how influential the UK music is. So building my music career in this country, it’s it’s great. In terms of collaborations not yet

from anyone from Zimbabwe, but I’ve collaborated with artists from Rwanda and some of the locals here. One from Nigeria. Gambia. Yeah, but not quite yet. Obviously, when you’re in the diaspora in England, you know, they just think I’m making it big. Plus, I’m the oldest son as well, in my family. I’ve got other three sisters back home. So, I always have to set an example. You know, whatever, that I do. Being the oldest son in the family. So yeah. So the music academy, it really came out of trying to encourage young people into creativity, because in Africa, you know, it’s either you become a doctor or a lawyer or whatever. And I was never really, really encouraged to do music growing up. And, you
know, just imagine my mum, she’s, she’s in medicine, and my dad is a school principal. So, like, they were very strong on me. Doing, yeah, achieving my academics. So, but I said, “No, I want to go into creativity”, which caused a lot of arguing and fighting. So reason why I started the music academy was to just try and encourage the young people now to say, “Yeah you can still do music, and you can still be in creativity, and you can still earn a good living doing what you’re doing”. And you know, so yeah, that’s, that was the whole point. So I teach piano, guitar, drums, bass. We do music production, we do DJing as well. And in the future, I will be introducing the mbira. And I’ll be also introducing the marimbas as well. Yeah. So in terms of in terms of the marimbas and the mbira. In the UK, it’s very rare. I think it’s that kind of rare… like, it’s like, the steel pans the very, very rare instruments, and I think it’ll, it’ll be great to just introduce it in the community and, you know, make it more accessible to whoever wants to, you know, to play. In terms of pushing creativity, I think the UK, the parents, they’re quite good at supporting their children to pursue what they like to do. I mean, for example, with my music academy, you know, I see a lot of parents actually encouraging the children to say “Hey, do this”, and you know, they’d rather pay- they do actually pay for their, tuition and, you know, so, yeah, it’s really good. It’s really good side in terms of like, whatever the child wants to do, the parents, they’re always behind their children and they support which is something that I wish…

Anything I would want to change in my life, living in Zimbabwe? I just wish I had spent more time with my family, because I really missed that. I wish I had connected with more musicians and more artists. And also, I think one of the things that I’m really, really passionate about is the African history. Because most of African history, it’s oral history. And I wish I could spend more time with the older generation or generation before me and just give me some stories of what life was like, you know, yeah, back in the days, you know, so yeah I wish I’d spent more time with with my elders in that sense. I know quite a lot about African history, especially Zimbabwean history from the time of before the colonisation. So yeah, quite Yeah, from the Great Zimbabwe, the Mwenemutapa if you know about that, which is basically like the Wakanda of Africa. Yeah, so I know quite a lot.

Mugabe is, depending on how you see it, you know, he’s a hero. He’s a villain. You know, you can’t really pinpoint because obviously, early 80s, Mugabe was a liberator. You know, he was a liberator. But obviously, he was in power for a long time. And being in power for a long time. You know, he kind of became more of a tyrant really. But yeah, the situation with Mugabe is a love, hate sort of a thing. So I think one of his downfalls really was staying in power for a long time. You know, and when he eventually said, “I resign” it’s, you know, it gave like a big sigh of relief, like amongst Zimbabweans. And I remember the time it was it was, I mean, I was I was now in the UK, but like, it was like breaking news for the whole week, really, like people were marching in the street, people are celebrating and you

know, just saying, “Yeah, finally, the guy who has been, you know, tormenting us for the past three decades, you know, is gone”. So, yeah, it was such a big thing. So yeah, so the situation between Zimbabwe and the UK,when that happened, it was pretty much the same, like most of Zimbabwean diasporans, you know, they had the same feeling because a lot of Zimbabweans who came to the UK, they were running from the situation in Zimbabwe. So, obviously, when they say “That guy is gone now”, everyone was just like, “Wooo it’s a new dawn. It’s, it’s a new life”. So that same excitement. And yeah, it was, it was it was pretty much the same. The politics in Zimbabwe, compared to here, it’s quite different, I think, in the UK, in terms of democracy, you know, they have kind matured. Zimbabwe is still a young country. And it’s got its own problems, because obviously, the Zimbabwean tradition is we grew up in, we had kingdoms and chiefs and kings. So they can see the President as like the king, and they, you know, you, he kind of rules the country like he is the king, you know, but it’s pretty much a democracy, you know, so, like, if you look at the electoral commission in the UK, it’s quite independent, whereby in Zimbabwe, it seems like one party own the electoral commission, so always the election kind of biassed and rigged in some way, somehow, else so that people can cling into power. So yeah, so in the UK, there’s more transparency and we are good at holding accountable of our political leaders, you know, and if they’re not, if they’re not delivering, then a lot of pressure is put upon that. And, yeah, there’s always a change, you know, I mean, and which is, which is healthy for politics anyways, you know, cause these people they’re public figures and they represent us and if they’re not delivering we should be able to be confident and be free to say that “Eh, things need to change now”.

The Royal Family in Zimbabwe, it’s quite great. The Queen, was THE Queen you know it wasn’t just like the British Queen but we also have the Queen and the Royal Family and I remember, not not say I was born at the time, but like watching the videos of Zimbabwean independence and seeing King Charles, who was then Prince Charles, coming to Zimbabwe to receive the Union Jack and all that stuff like yeah, it was great. Like we’ve always had a great perception about the Royal Family. My perception about the UK, about the royal Family when I moved to the UK, it hasn’t really quite changed. Especially me meeting them in person. You know, I was one of the beneficiaries of a lot of things from the Royal family. Like, I also got some funding from the Prince’s Trust before. So and also working with CRS (Community Recording Studios). And yeah, meeting Prince Harry himself. And I was also a beneficiary of his of his foundation as well. So, it’s been great. I think, I think the Royal Family, they you know, it’s part of the British history. You know, it goes it goes way back, you know, and I think it’s just a great thing to keep that Monarchy because it’s, it just represents Britain, you know? So, you know, the, the Queen’s guard, the long hats and all that the horses the chariots? Yes. That’s great. Yeah, I’ll tell you a little story, I was just at work, you know? And they said, “Oh, Prince Harry’s coming, you know”. And, yeah, it was quite like the atmosphere was quite, it was a different day at work in the day, you know, like, because you know, that the Prince is coming. And the moment when he arrived, I was very unaware, I was unaware that he’s arrived, you know, but he was a proper lad, you know, like, you know, remember him trying out the piano, and, you know, cause I was just showing him what I do in terms of like, helping in the community. So yeah he was just a proper ordinary lad, and we could share jokes. And, you know, I thought that he was gonna come with like, bodyguards and all this. They were there, but like, I could hardly notice them. You know? Yeah, it was so free. We take selfies with him. And yeah, it was. It was a great experience. I believe it was in 2016. 2015? 2016, or somewhere there, yeah. I’m

sure he’ll come back to Nottingham, especially the charities that he used to fund and stuff. I’m sure, definitely you come back.

The things that you know, that kind of identify you as someone from Nottingham, you know, obviously, the first one is the football team. Nottingham Forest. And yeah, they’re now in the Premier League, which is amazing. And I realise Nottingham, we love ducks a lot. ‘Ay up me duck’. You know, that’s one thing, and yeah, the accent, you know, obviously, I don’t have the Nottingham accent you know likre, you can just quickly say, “Ah it’s from Nottingham”, you know, so, yeah. So, the Lions, you know, that’s Nottingham for you. So yeah. It goes on and on and on.

I have a lot of goals that I need to achieve. Mainly the first one is I’ve already achieved that. I’ve opened a new studio in Nottingham. It’s studio and music academy. So I teach kids piano, guitar, drums, but also what I want to introduce to them as well as to teach them some of the traditional Zimbabwean instruments like the mbiras and the marimbas. Yeah, so you saw my goal is to see that growing as far as it can go. Then also personally as myself, just my music to just go as far as it can reach.

I’m proud of where I am and I know where I came from. I’m happy where I am, and I look forward to the future