Being born disabled brought shame to my family, Gwaze tells his story through his music

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By Robert Tapfumaneyi

BORN disabled 25 years ago in the small copper mining town of Mhangura, upcoming musician Tongai Gwaze says he is here to prove to all and sundry that every human being was created by God for a purpose.

Tongai was born with myopathy, a condition which predominantly affects proximal muscle groups (shoulder and limp girdles) and it reduces muscle strength and power in older children and adults. caught up with the budding musician in Harare’s Mbare suburb where he sells his own CDs.

Gwaze says his physical condition almost tore his paternal and maternal families apart with either side accusing the other of practising witchcraft.

But the feuding families were soon to realise their mistakes, eventually accepting that he was just like any other child.

The wheelchair bound Harare youth who calls himself the Great man while on stage, tells his story through music with a melodious voice that has brought tears to many.

To date, Gwaze has two albums to his name with the latest being one with the hit song, Pandakazvarwa featuring popular dendera maestro Sulumani Chimbetu.

“In the song Pandakazvarwa, I am explaining what goes on within families as they all turn to blame witchcraft when someone is born disabled, yet God has all the answers,” says Gwaze, who was busy selling his music at Harare’s popular Mupedzanhamo market on Wednesday.

“Instead of people coming to say makorokoto (congratulations) with gifts, they ran away and start gossiping.

“So in this song, I am educating people to put themselves in my mother’s position; how she felt after such treatment.

“I want people to know that when one is born with disability, the condition is from God and not witchcraft.”

However, Gwaze’s challenges did not stop with his birth experiences but have also extended to his musical career.

Like any other person with physical problems, Gwaze speaks of experiencing challenges during performances at some venues where he normally features as a guest artist saying the places were not friendly to disability.

“Sometimes I end up singing in an appropriate position,” he says.

Gwaze sells his own music and he draws the attention of potential customers among passers-by through playing his music from a loud speaker fixed to his wheel chair.

“My CDs go for $2 and I am appealing for a motorised wheelchair so that I can move around on my own rather being pushed by a helper,” he says.

Sadly his mother passed on when he was two years old and did not live to see him make a name for himself through national radio.