Weekend Q&A: Mela musician Wilson Magwere on growing up in Zimbabwe
Wilson Magwere (42) arrived in Northern Ireland from Zimbabwe in 2003 and formed the Magwere band, Belfast Mela regulars known for their African beats
How do you unwind at the weekend?
Mostly I go out with my wife Alison. We go for walks or we might take a drive to the coast. We like going to Bangor to look at the sea, which is relaxing.
What do you recall most about weekends growing up?
Weekends in Zimbabwe meant adventures. When I was young, say 10 to 12, I'd go and do silly things like jumping from a bridge into the water. Or we'd go camping in the rural areas and villages. I was brought up in the city but some of the family were farmers and we used to go hunting with my uncles. We also herded cows and goats. I was into sport too and used to be a rugby and cricket player. Then there was music and I used to love playing music at the weekend. I'd go under a mango tree and make a big noise with my drum kit when I was about 17. Musical instruments were very expensive in Africa back then but my mother bought it for me.
Friday night or Saturday night?
I prefer Saturday, it's more lively. Although music performed live has yet to start up again, we've been rehearsing for the Mela. We filmed a slot in the Shankill Spectrum Centra which had a very good acoustic. I think the online festival is going to bring people back to the idea of liking to go out, back to entertainment, to something positive although we're in the pandemic. Our music is traditional Zimbabwean. The band did our greatest hits but we also produced 10 new songs. One, Why, Why, Why, is a sad song but there's some resolution in there too. I lost my mum when I was 18 and am asking God why it happened so early. At the end the music fades out. I wrote the song a long while ago but hadn't wanted to play it or record it until now.
Do you have a must-listen weekend radio show?
I don't listen to radio, I just play CDs. So I'd listen to traditional music from Zimbabwe, Morgan Heritage, Oliver Mtukudzi and Salif Keita, plus of course Bob Marley.
A must-watch weekend TV show/box set?
No, at the weekend I mostly watch football and support Arsenal.
Favourite eatery or is it a takeaway?
We often go to Little Thai, my wife's friend's restaurant just off the Newtownards Road in Dundonald. I love Thai cuisine.
Is Sunday still special?
It is a special day. We've stopped going to church although I used to attend and was brought up in a Pentecostal church. I don't want to criticise any church as an institution but as you grow older, you maybe see the cracks in the leadership, that in some cases it might be more about money than God.
How do you feel on Sunday night about Monday morning?
Sunday's a very difficult day, you need to rest after playing live on Saturday. The band would travel as far as Letterkenny and play music for people who want something multi-cultural, but not performed in pubs. There is always that last-minute feeling before Monday.
:: This year's Mela multicultural festival events take place online from August 24-30; visit belfastmela.org.uk/#home