Until the ‘lioness’ learns how to write, every story will glorify the hunter. This may just be the not so perfect way to sum up what has inspired local promoter and artist manager Zenzele Hirschfeld to step onto the spotlight and personally tell her 16 year story as the behind the scenes first lady of the local music industry.
For the past decade and a half Hirschfeld has taken the back seat, living under the shadow of some of the biggest artists the local industry has ever produced. As she continues her maternal role, unearthing and launching brand new talent, Hirschfeld feels it is time for her to take centre stage, albeit for a fleeting moment.
Through her documentary ‘The Lady, Her Strength and Friendships’ she aims to step away from the shadows and tell her story. She wants her story as an influencer, an adviser, an inspiration and the Launchpad to some of the artists who have ruled the local musical airwaves for years to be known.
Lifestyle caught up with ‘Mama Zee’ this past Thursday at My Kind of Place (MKOP), Gaborone where she was busy working on preparations for the launch of the documentary, scheduled for Wednesday October 25 at New Capitol Cinemas (Riverwalk Mall). The launch , which coincides with her birthday, will be followed two days later by a celebration of her 16 years in the music industry at Chez Nicholas (i-Towers) themed ‘Queens’ Ball, Kings Meet Queens’.
Looking fatigued as she sips her cocktail on the restaurant terrace overlooking the Notwane River, you would think she had just relived the entire 16 years all over again that day. “I was in my early twenties back in 2001 when I began my journey as a music promoter,” Hirschfeld relates, as if careful not to give away her age.
She discovered her passion for music promotion while at St Joseph’s College with her now best friend Mpho Podiephatshwa. “We were true dreamers and visionaries back at high school,” she says. “We used to talk about how we were going to conquer the local music industry sometime in the future.” It was not until after her St Joseph’s days that fellow ex school mate and rapper Tshepiso Kast Molapisi introduced her to a young Odirile Vee Sento (Vee Mampeezy) that Hirschfeld’s career as an artist manager really took off. Zen Promotions was soon born. “Apparently Vee had heard about my ambitions and thought we could do great things together.” By that time Hirschfeld had already met and started working with Vee’s friends, kwaito group Eskimos, who would also go on to conquer the local industry.
She cites the late Soares Katumbela, Tops Masole, and other veteran players in the industry as some of her major inspirations. “Soares and I were not just about organising events,” she says, adding, “We were also about building artists and turning them into brands.”
She recently hosted a press conference at Sky Lounge (i-Towers) where various speakers described her perseverance and inspiration to both men and women in the industry. One of her friends, Queen Mmakgosi Tau, likened her to two women in the bible; Ruth who she said was very obedient, and Queen Esther who never thought she would belong to the royal family.
Gabz FM’s Shima Monageng, also a promoter and vice president of BEPA said Hirschfeld’s is a story that should reach the world. “It has been 16 years, but it is more of the beginning as bigger things are on the way. God called her for a purpose, to minister,” Monageng said. Charma Gal described her as the foundation of the local music industry. She called her an iron lady who, through her perseverance, will always find her way to the top. Some of the artists she has worked with include Scar, Maxy, Stagga, Nnunu Ramogotsi, Jujuboy, Ban T, and Exodus. She has also worked with the legendary John Selolwane and Socca Moruakgomo among other veterans. Hirschfeld currently has two artists under her wing, MMP Family, and the new kid on the block Veezo View.
Hirschfeld, who is currently Botswana Entertainment Promoters Association (BEPA) president has held various positions in the industry such as secretary general and vice president of Botswana Music Union (BOMU) respectively. “I hope my story inspires a young girl child. That she can achieve whatever wants.”