Arts and culture Music

Mono Mukundu: Zimbabwe’s global-quality music producer

Zimbabwe’s music producers have a unique role to play in the creation of the country’s musical library, especially in ensuring product quality that is equal to the best in Africa and the rest of the world.

One man who is up to that challenge is Mono Mukundu, a seasoned professional who is keen to see an ever-increasing good reputation for Zimbabwe’s musicians and an ever-increasing market for their music. He’s a producer-musician whose own reputation is strong and whose music videos have shared space on the DStv platform with the work of some of Africa’s leading producers.

“We must always aim for the top, and I see my role as helping recognise our wealth of talent and helping make sure the various DStv channels that feature music have of flow of good Zimbabwean content. This gives me great satisfaction,” he said.

Mono was born Clive Mukundu in September 1970 in Rusape, home of his parents Joyce Gwatidzo and George Mukundu. He later grew up in Harare, where he met and married Jean Kandeya Mukundu, with whom he has two children, Nyasha Tariro and Takakunda.  The nickname Mono came about in 1989, resulting from his single dreadlock, which he used to call a ‘mono-lock’.

“I had a burning passion for music as early as I can remember and I was happy to discover that I was gifted in this area, so I never dreamed of doing anything other than earning a living through music,” he said.

“To be where I am, there came about a combination of many things that include hard work, perseverance and adherence to certain life and music business principles.”

As a producer, he enjoys seeing success come to artistes he works with from before they become known, among them stars like Jah Prayser, Hope Masike and many others.

“As a musician I love the creation of music and working with talented colleagues. I used to enjoy travelling a lot, but I possibly travelled just  little too much with Oliver Mtukudzi and Chiwoniso, so that love for travelling has diminished somewhat.”

Mono believes that some of his best accomplishments include these successful travels around the world with Tuku and Chiwoniso, as well as starting his own music studio in his garage at home.

Three main inspirations for him have been Bob Marley, Jonah Sithole & Jimi Hendrix.

“Bob Marley’s song writing, live perfomances and simple lifestyle continues to inspire me even today,” he said.

“Jimi Hendrix’s guitar wizardry, his dedication to the guitar, innovations and his life story inspires me a lot, too, as does Jonah Sithole’s guitar prowess and his contribution as the one who created the Mbira guitar.”

Mono also believes that key factors for anyone in the music business are uniqueness, originality and either having a good business acumen or having someone around with that acumen.

Having videos on DStv’s Trace Africa and other music channels has given him great satisfaction.

“There are a number of music videos that have been platformed on DStv in which I participated either as a guitarist or as a music producer, including Janet Manyowa’s Tariro, Sister Flame’s I Got This Feeling, among others. It is a good thing to be on DStv because it is the most watched network in Africa,” he said.

He is a DStv fan, enjoying The Travel Channel, especially the programme Mysteries At The Museum, as well as programmes on other channels like Judge Judy, news channels and, of course the music channels.

“I would also love to see DStv introduce a music channel for the mature audiences, especially to play music from across Africa with artistes like Salif Keita, Oliver Mtukudzi, Koffi Olomide and other Old School musicians,” he said.

Family life is the cornerstone of his existence and career. When he started dating his later wife in June 1993, they  experienced opposition to their relationship

“Her father was against the idea of her daughter dating a musician, and my own father didn’t want me to date her, but we ignored these objections and became married in 1994 … but we went through ‘hell’ first. Takakunda, the second of our children, is now a session guitarist, so has also joined the music business,” said Mono.

Looking ahead, his plans include obtaining his first degree, writing books, and staying active in the music business to the end of his life. He hopes to assist musicians realise their ambitions through his expertise and experience. He also hopes the local music scene expands and expands, something with which he feels DStv platform can assist hugely.

About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende