Gokwe, one of the largest agricultural towns is one of those towns which are less recognized in terms of producing the best personnel apart from cotton production, which everyone knows about.

The agricultural town has however done a lot apart from cotton production as it is known for being the home town of former Warriors Goalkeeper Energy Murambadoro, award winning gospel singer Rev Chivaviro among others.

My Gokwe Media (MG) is pleased to share an insightful conversation with ‘Ebenezer- Tiri Munyasha‘ hit maker Reverend Togarepi Tapera Chivaviro about his life and music journey as part of My Gokwe Media’s Finding & Celebrating Gokwe Heroes & Legends Initiative.

MG: Can you tell us about yourself; in fact who is Reverend Chivaviro?

My name is Togarepi Tapera Chivaviro, born in Gokwe on the 22nd of January 1975 , at Gwanyika. My father, Joyce Chivaviro is late and my mother May Chivaviro is also late.

My father was known as a music teacher and was a Headmaster in quite a number of schools in Gokwe. He was a chorister and the one who taught me music. Though I was born in Gwanyika (because that’s where my father was working), our rural home is in Gwehava.

So I grew up in Gokwe and went to Kushinga/ Rumhuma Primary School for grade 1 then I changed to Gwehava Primary School from Grade 2 – 7. I went to Makwiro, Moleli High School where I did my O’ Level and the completed A level at Ellis Robins in Harare. I have studied at United Theological College in Epworth and did most of my tertiary education at the University of Zimbabwe

In a nutshell, I grew up in Gokwe, herding cattle, farming and schooling. My roots are in Gokwe. That’s where my own home is.

Rev T. T. Chivaviro at his rural home in Gwehava, Gokwe

MG: How is your family like?

At a time when I finished High School I went into teaching, a profession which led me to meet my wife Juliet Chabata. I taught at Batanai High School at Manoti, Karova near Manyoni, Kangula near Binga and Mapfumo in Gwehava. I met my wife in Manoti who was also teaching at St Hughes Primary in 1997. My wife comes from Gumunyu in Gokwe North and we have been married since 1999.

We have 2 kids, a son, Tinashe Chivaviro (17) who have taken into music of late and has his own album and a daughter Munashe Chivaviro (14).

I was born in a family of 6, our eldest sister Nyevero passed on, my sister Ropafadzo, brother Machaya, brother Tazvarwa, Togarepi (myself) and then my little sister Tsungirirai.

MG: How did you join the music industry or what motivated you?

Music! My father was a Music Teacher, a Chorister, a choir-master. As I said we were six in our family, and counting him and our mother we were eight in total. So we used to form our own choir. I have never received formal music training or been to music school but the reality is that we used to sing as a family at home.

He taught us to teach others music and to conduct choirs. When I went to High School in Harare, In 1992 that’s when I met the late Brian Sibalo, who introduced me to the instrumental music. I used to like choral music but Brian Sibalo managed to inspire me for change

After Sibalo came Oliver Mtukudzi whom I met at church (as we fellowshipped at the same church) and he started to teach me how it is done, how music is recorded and studio recording is done

I was also inspired by the music of Sipho Makhabane and Derick Ndzimande who were South Africans.

So all that played a huge role in shaping my musical channel until 1999 when I recorded my first album, ‘Peace, Hope and Love‘ the same year which I enrolled at the Theological College. I did it with other Pastors. Now ‘Kana Wakayambuka‘ is my 18th album.

MG: So, how far have you gone in this music Industry? How big is your brand?

It is a bit difficult for me to put in a definite statement on how big the brand or Reverend Chivaviro or our music is. But…., I can say our music has been played in many countries and all over the world because generally Zimbabweans who are most of our fans are in many countries.

In addition, we have also managed to visit countries like England, Scotland, America, Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia and France just to name but a few. I must say because of music I have stepped in so many countries in different continents so if that can be used to measure how big the brand is, its quite sizeable.

As someone who is not a professional musician like others but a Pastor, we are not visible and seen doing live shows like what other musicians do. I am called to minister the Word of God to different people in different nations and I use music as a tool and part of the preaching tools to get the message across to people. So looking at me as a musician I am not that typical musician with own music band and who goes around holding shows, hosting concerts and the like.

I just get into studio, write songs, record and then I get the music out because a song travels faster than your body and gets to places where your body has never been to. With the preaching we do in pulpits we can’t reach all the places which music can. The same message we preach is what we sing so it gets to as many people as God would have allowed.

Our music has travelled wider, it’s actually bigger than us. In as far as the brand is concerned we have won so many awards because of the songs that we have released. In Zimbabwe we have received so many nominations on most music Award platforms, we have even won some.

Outside, we have also won awards in South Africa chiefly the SABC Crown Gospel Awards and various nominations in the likes of INGOMA. Continentally in Africa we got nominations, intact EBENEZER was Awarded the Best Collaboration in Africa 2017 Trumpet Africa Gospel Awards also sponsored by SABC. We have also been presented with an Award in America too!

That’s how far we have gone and I think to mention the name Reverend Chivaviro in Zimbabwe you may get a few people who are not aware of who the person is. So I think if that can help, that’s how big our brand is at the moment.

God helped us and lifted us higher than just being a Gokwe-only artist. We have sung on so many platforms, stadiums, Halls, National Concerts and featured in programs with even bigger name artists that I only dreamt of as I grew up in Gokwe

MG: What challenges have you faced in your music career?

I think the biggest challenge that I have faced is…, you know Ebenezer was my 10th album, that’s when we started to be recognised by the people, but we had done 9 albums before. So, it was very difficult to make that big-break through and I think for most artists, that’s where the challenge is. To get that big break through song, and make your name big so that what ever you do afterwards will be well received by many fans.

My message is just persevere and don’t give up, it pays a lot to be patient in the music industry

The other challenge is instruments and resources to use in the music industry. We mainly faced that in the first three or four years of our music journey. However, like I said I am not a professional musician so I was not affected very much in that area.

The other challenge that I have faced myself probably as a person who is not a professional musician is when people tried to equate me in the same manner as the people who are professional musicians with bands and stuff. So one can realise that people will be expecting us to move around doing shows.

In music that’s what many people who are professional musicians do. But I am not able to do it because it’s not my job, I use music for preaching. People expect me to move around and tour many places but it is very difficult especially for me because I have my own calling which I’m pursuing

Then obviously the Coronavirus pandemic, like for example when I am releasing my albums, I usually release them on the 22nd of January which is my birth day. All my last six albums were released on my birthday, 22 January but I could not do it this time with ‘Kana Wakayambuka‘. When we tried to do it we faced the challenge where artists I wanted to feature and other people could not come to the studio, so it was very difficult and many artists faced the same.

In most cases when we release our albums we need to support then by doing just a couple of concerts and live shows, due to lockdowns, we have not been able to do that. But otherwise, I have seen the grace of God, I am not somebody who is complaining for being in the music industry.

Music opened for me a number of doors, so many doors that I never imagined, it just took me somewhere. I thank God because I crossed a lot of roads through music.

MG: So do you have any new projects for your audiences?

We recently released our 18th album, ‘Kana Wakayambuka‘. I have been surprised by the way this album has been received. For the past two years I have not been doing music concentrating in my studies.
I have been doing my Doctorate Degree in Ministry. So I am here in the United States of America I came about two years ago with my family.

Rev Chivaviro and family in USA

My son Tinashe covered up for me as he entered the music arena some two years ago. I wasn’t sure of how people were going to receive my music after being quiet for some time.

I was surprised and excited as my ‘Kana Wakayambuka‘ song is being played all over, I thank God for that reception. The album has six tracks Right now we are working on the videos, we have already done 3 and we are yet to do the other 3.

We do not have any other business other than and preaching the Gospel. I have done a lot of songs and some I give to the people to record and some I do for myself. I receive the word from God, so as long as I am still alive I will be doing music.

MG: What advise are you giving to other upcoming artists?

My advice to other upcoming artists is that they have to persevere, if there is anything they want in life. Like I mentioned before, before the big breakthrough I released nine albums, and nine albums is not a joke, that’s over 40 songs!

The breakthrough was not all that simple until 2016 when God gave us the song Ebenezer. It’s important to persevere. Be consistent and do the best you can, and know that this music belongs to Jesus. So let the Lord speak through that music, to his people .

Don’t just copy what has been done by others, be yourself and follow your personal instruction from above; so that the world won’t miss you and your special mission. God calls one person at a time to do an assigned task so be yourself and be original.

If you have done something in all works of life, may it be in music, business or other, get in touch with My Gokwe through email: [email protected] or WhatsApp 0712002782 and be part of My Gokwe’s Finding & Celebrating Gokwe Heroes & Legends Initiative.

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