…Appointed IFM vice president
The Zimbabwe Music Union (ZIMU) president Edith WeUtonga has made history after she was appointed the vice president of the International Federation of Musicians (IFM), a global body that represents the interests of musicians from close to 100 countries across the world, Business Times can report.
The Afro-jazz sensation, WeUtonga, whose real name is Edith Katiji, has also become the first woman to achieve such a historic feat in the history of IFM, which was established in 1948 in Zurich, Switzerland.
The diva also becomes the first African to hold such a post within IFM, a Swiss musicians’ union initiative and the secretariat is based in France.
But, WeUtonga, who was voted into the presidency at the 22nd Congress which was attended by 90 countries, will not be moving there yet.
Her tenure will run for four years.
Zimbabwe has been a member of IFM for years and with the federations’ help and advice ZIMU has been making strides.
An elated WeUtonga said: “This is an opportunity for our Zimbabwean musicians to mingle, collaborate with other countries and their musicians. This is the opportunity for our sector challenges to be addressed at international platforms and getting the attention and advice that will map the way forward.”
She added: “(This will also help us) lobbying and advocating with the rest of the world on matters that may seem to affect a few touring musicians of Zimbabwe and access to the world.”
A multi-instrumentalist and one of the few female bassists in the country, WeUtonga has been in the arts industry for two decades and has played a pivotal role in the evolution of the music industry in Zimbabwe.
The journey for WeUtonga, who is also an advisor of the United Women in Music Zimbabwe, started with the Zimbabwe Army school of Music at the Bulawayo Barracks.
She later developed a love for theatre at the Amakhosi theatre.
WeUtonga was involved in various theatre productions that led her to the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA).
It is her passion for music that led her to the Sunshine City where she was able to realize her dream with the formation of the band Utonga, meeting the love of her life and the formation of ZIMU.
Her appointment comes at a time when Zimbabwe’s music industry is changing. And her appointment could be exactly what Zimbabwean music needed.
“It means that the work we are or I am doing is not going unnoticed. The world is watching and believes that I have something to offer, for my fellow African brothers and sisters and for the world at large. I feel humbled, considering how the union is viewed in Zimbabwe by some critics. It does feel like a huge ‘phew’ to know that we are and have been in the right direction all along and not giving up has been the greatest strength ZIMU has shown of resilience” WeUtonga told Business Times.
She has won several accolades at the National Arts Merit Awards, Bulawayo Arts Awards and Women Achievers Awards.
WeUtonga holds a Masters of Arts Degree in Music Development from SOAS University of London and a Bachelor of Science Honours degree in Music Business, Musicology and Technology from the Midlands State University.
While the entertainment industry has been trying to adapt to the new world, brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s a relief to see that not everything is at a stand-still.
The wheels are always turning somewhere even if they are not visible for all to see.
Here’s to madam vice president, onward and upward!