Leroy Dzenga Lifestyle Writer
Sometimes top names visit Zimbabwe and they just slide under the radar.
Other geniuses are not too popular to cause a deafening buzz but their work would have reached many in this country whose consumption of international music is almost at staple level.
Last week, Zimbabwe temporarily sheltered Ofentse Mwase, a highly rated South African cinematographer and video director.
The man, nicknamed Unclescrooch, was in Harare for Harare for a project titled “#ZimIsNow” which is due for release soon.
We will not pre-empt the contents of the project as it is now being packaged for release although teasers are already running on national television.
His work has dominated music channels across the continent, working with names that rank up when listing renowned African music.
The inscription “OM Films” appears on popular productions including Emtee’s Roll Up and Prince Kaybee’s Club Controller among others.
Saturday Lifestyle got an exclusive interview with the award winning cinematographer who spoke on how Zimbabwe has treated him during the duration of the project.
“Zimbabwe is cool, it is like home here. It is quite an interesting place, I am seeing it in a different light not the stories we have seen in the news,” he said.
When he was not busy with the commissioned project Mwase connected with a few local young directors.
“I have met director AM (Aaron Mheta) they came and showed me their work, I think it is cool. They just have to continue on the path their own and keep their heads up and make a name for themselves,” Mwase said, describing his meeting with one of the brightest prospects in video production in Zimbabwe.
Being a key player in a vibrant creative industry like South Africa, Mwase spoke on what it would take for the industry to attain its long sought breakthrough.
“For Zimbabwean art, the biggest thing is to get support from either Government or any arts and culture foundations or groups. I think that is an important thing when you are looking for growth. Government or whatever body available has to find talent and help people create content that can be exported.”
Mwase’s Zimbabwean connection began in 2016 when he worked with rapper Karizma on his song Shisha Pipe, the song was among the 2017 Zimbabwe Achievers Awards video of the year nominees.
On the experience, he says he will jump at an opportunity to collaborate with Karizma.
“Karizma is the biggest Zimbabwean artiste that I remember working with. I remember when we shot Shisha Pipe with him, he is a very humble guy. It was nice working with him, he is a hard worker who is all for getting the shot. I like working with people like that, they just pushing you to be better. I still talk to him, sharing ideas he is a nice guy. I like him,” Mwase said.
Another interesting aspect of Mwase’s work is how he runs his production company with his wife Nelisiwe.
They are like South Africa’s response to Charles and Olivia Charamba.
“I taught her how to shoot since we started dating in 2009. We have been working together since early days and we now know each other, it is now like second nature,” he said.
Nelisiwe plays a stunt-double lead in most of the skits produced by OM films.
Dr Oliver Mtukudzi is Mwase’s favourite Zimbabwean musician, although he admitted not knowing a lot of our artistes.
Fifi Cooper, S`java, A-Reece, Emtee, Prince Kaybee, K.O and L-Tido are some of the names who have trusted Unclescrooch to handle their visuals.
For a man who has worked with some of the biggest names in African music, Mwase’s unassuming character appeared too good to be true.
Despite having won the South African Music Award in 2017 with Miss Pru’s Ameni, setting up the meeting took less than five messages on Facebook.
Having been used to locals who duck and dive before they grant an interview, the ease of engagement spoke of a man who understood how to deal with the media.
Before parting with Saturday Lifestyle at a local hotel, Mwase said he could not wait to show Zimbabwe what he has been cooking on their turf.