T Freddy: Controversial, popular. . . fights gender-based violence

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LOCAL preacher-cum-musician, Tapiwa Freddy, is one man who usually breaks the Internet and has had tongues wagging over his antics.

Like him or hate him, the man of cloth is popular. At one point pictures of him in the company of sex workers from Harare’s red-light district in the Avenues area went viral.

Just recently he surprised Zimbabweans as his pictures while dressed as a woman became the talking point in social circles. In all this, he drops videos to justify the scenes.

This has, however, not stopped people from talking as some believe his actions are not expected from a man of God.

The Daily News On Sunday’s Blessing Masakadza spoke to the preacher on what inspires his art, what his church and family thinks about his Christian mission.

Q: At one point pictures of you in the Avenues area circulated and recently you were pictured dressed as a woman, what inspired that?
A: I have noticed that people enjoy the news of a prophet or church leader being caught offside.
Even those who don’t buy newspapers will rush to the vendors to get one whenever a prophet is said to have misfired.

So I use that tactic to capture the attention of people and in the process send the desired message. I don’t just do those things for fun but there will be a specific reason for it.
Q: You appeared in women’s clothes, a dress and a wig on the song Zvakwana and it caused a buzz on various platforms. What was the idea behind the song?
A: This is a song against gender-based violence. At university I met a lot of women who shared their nasty experiences at the hands of men.

This particular song was inspired by a lecturer who wrote a paper on how men are exploiting lobola to abuse women.

The song required me to dress as a woman or to be in the shoes of a woman. In short I’m saying no to violence against women and children.

Q: Is the message getting to the people?
A: Yes, after Ndekeda, the video I had with Tocky Vibes with those ladies in the Avenues, one came to church for a one on one session.

She said she was inspired by the song and had decided to give her life to God.
On Zvakwana, it resulted in several social media challenges, with men sharing pictures and videos in wigs. Men responded and that shows the message got to them.

I have also been invited to the wedding centre this Friday to minister to couples.

Q: Some people criticise you a lot, does it affect you?
A: Pressure zero. I have noticed that people have a tendency to judge before having full information.
So I have taught myself not to mind what people say. I’m open to advice but toxic hearsay I don’t take.

In short, critics give me strength to continue working. The more they criticise the more I come up with songs. They give me strength.

Q: Others have criticised your voice or way of singing, what can you say about that?
A: This is my voice and to those who think I will back down, they have to think again. People have to get used to that. Nothing can change me.

Q: How does your family react to your art?
A: My family is very supportive. In the video Zvakwana I included two of my daughters. Pictures of my wife and me in a dress are also there. She supports me a lot.

Q: What does the church say?
A: The church supports me a lot because they know where I will be coming from. They understand my art and in return they support it.

Q: What do other men of God say about your work?
A: I accept advice from all men of honour. I take my work to Pastor Charles Charamba and he is one man who inspires me a lot.

He told me to continue on my path and in his words, ‘I’m a man of courage and creativity’.
Q: What more can people expect from you this year?
A: A new album is coming. It is called Area 1. It will be launched in the Harare Gardens in the afternoon. It will be a family event because the message is directed to families.

Q: Recently we had Winky D having a song Area 51, what does this mean?
A: These are two different things. Winky D referred to a place called Area 51 in the US.
Mine is a specific thing or scenario that is affecting a person.

This is a person coming to me saying I have this one area that affects me.
Q: Any more controversial videos?
A: I’m unpredictable and all I can guarantee you is that my next project will be different from the previous works.
Q: You said you are not stopping music production, are you into music full time now?
A: Music is part time and other singers should not feel threatened by my presence in the industry.

If you notice I do not even hold shows and I only perform in church with the praise and worship team once in a while.
Q: And you have been topping charts!
A: I’m a people’s person and famous across the country and above all I produce music that people relate to so they will vote for the songs.

And to those who vote for my music I say thank you for the support. It will not be possible without their votes.
Q: How do you balance music and ministerial work?
A: To me the church ministry comes first and like I said music is part time. For now I’m managing to balance the two. If music threatens church work or eats into church time, I will leave it.

Q: And lastly what would be your words to your followers and foes?
A: Keep supporting the music and this year expect something more. Expect more music and more videos.
Currently, I’m still deciding if I can drop another video before the album launch. As to those against my art, my word to them is zero pressure. No amount of hate will stop me.

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