Of Education and Talent: The Journey Of Youths In Zimbabwe
To some, a blissful life is as a result of one’s treatment of education as the key to all doors. To some, a life of bliss is as a result of taking advantage of your talent. While it is common that individuals can fall on either line of the fence, education, or talent, Thamsanqa Stinta from Mbembesi in Umguza District is part of the blessed human species that was blessed with both.
By Sihlobo Bulala
Born on 11 February 1994, Thamsanqa Stinta has since his early childhood acted on his passion for music. Having realized his passion for music at a tender age where he attended Sunday school at church, he now lives to tell the tale of his musical journey which is crowned with such events as recording a 4 track Christian album (EP) in 2012 with the late legendary producer of Bulawayo, Joe Maseko at his studio. The project was a collaborative work with a group called Spirit Healers, which have since sadly disintegrated.
“I was clueless about the music industry at that point, not that I know much now, but I know better than I did then and it is all thanks to the late Joe Maseko who did not only play a role of a producer in my career but also that of a music mentor”, he narrated.
The 4 track album, titled ‘Babusisiwe’ opened more doors for the group as they were invited for a radio interview with Radio Zimbabwe and National FM on separate occasions. He describes the sessions as euphoric as it was their first chance to share their first music with their fans.
In 2013, when he went to further his Advanced level studies at Mtshabezi High School, a well renowned educational centre situated in Matebeleland South, he was most fortunate for being part of Mtshabezi High School choir that was recorded the second-best choral music choir in Zimbabwe 2013.
“This is where I can assure you that my passion for music was cultivated. I was also part of a small group that sang quite a lot during school functions to a point where one of the teachers requested us to record a wedding song to perform in their wedding”, he said, his eyes filled with disbelief as he quickly added in excitement “That’s when I actually realized that maybe I can sing well”.
Thamsanqa recalls how two musically acquainted teachers at the school, both recording gospel artists, Mr. Thobela Msipha and Mr. Thembani Dube played an important role in his music career.
Mr. Dube recorded a great album in 2013 which featured one of South Africa’s crown gospel award receivers, Buhle Nhlangulela. Following Mr. Dube’s success, Thamsanqa’s inspiration grew tenfold and pushed him to want more with his music.
His journey includes recorded singles featuring Mr. Msipha which are titled ‘Alpha and Omega’ and ‘Izwi Lenkosi’. With Mr. Dube, he was the backing vocalist for his music group T Dube and Friends.
“After Mtshabezi I had a clearer direction as to how I want my music to sound and to change people”, he clarified.
Having seen many people in his vicinity doing music projects that made a difference, he decided to take his musical career more seriously. In 2016, he had the chance of being invited for a short interview during the news slot on ZBC TV; an event he feels gained him some exposure.
Thamsanqa has so far recorded well-received singles, one of his own favorites being ‘iguqulwe’ with Thembela Sibanda, a close friend also sharing the musical path. He distributes his artwork on various social media platforms including Face book.
“I have actually been planning to release a single this year, however, there is not much I have done owing to the current Covid-19 outbreak”, he sadly said.
Having started his career in Electrical Engineering with Witwatersrand University, Thamsanqa is faced with the unfortunate news that it seems there isn’t a perfect balance between juggling his education with his musical career.
“Since I started my career I have been spending more time doing engineering related projects and less music. I’m not happy about it because sometimes I feel like I am slowly losing my touch in music which would be the worst nightmare for me”, he said.
When answering the question on what he thought about education being the key to success he suggested that education does not only equip one with knowledge but the exposure to some things that can change one’s life. He further highlighted that it is not the formal systematic education that actually changes people but the social environment within which they find themselves.
“As I have been describing my music career I’m sure you did pick along the way of my grooming. The inspiration actually happened as I was perusing my education and here I am today with two careers in my hand which I am passionate about”, he said gracefully.
Thamsanqa is a 26-year-old aspiring electrical engineer and music artist who feel that an aspiring artist should contemplate being part of a music group as it helps you relate with some principles of music in the likeliness of coordination. He encourages aspiring artists to take part in frequent vocal training and practice sessions.
“In as much as most musicians are doing it out of the talent they have, I think practice makes them sound better”, he said.
His message to the youths is to never give up hope.
“To the young person, I know you probably don’t know where your life is headed, perhaps you have it all figured it out, but I share a common message to both which is keep on dreaming and don’t give up on what you want”, he said with an encouraging tone.
Thamsanqa is thankful for his life’s opportunities and realizes that he has a family that looks up to him because of the heights he has reached in his life. In his musical journey, he has looked up to prominent musicians like Benjamin Dube, Hlengiwe Mhlaba and Travis Greene. He also has colleagues and friends in the Zimbabwean music industry whom he looks up to in the likeliness of Thembela Sibanda (whom he once collaborated with), Vuyile Qonqo (regarded as one of the best Saxophonists in Bulawayo and beyond), Reward Chauke (a friend he met in University), alongside Zikode Dywili whose brilliant passion in music and the keyboard encouraged him to play.