While popular musicians like Jah Prayzah are able to earn a decent living from music and pay for their medical bills and funeral cover, the same cannot be said for their band members and employees, who often struggle to make ends meet and more often than not fail to leave something for their families after they pass on.
By Donald Tafadzwa Chidoori
When strategy struck for the Nyemba family all eyes were on the popular “Tsviriyo” hit maker to provide ‘financial support’ and to buy the ‘coffin’ and other funeral costs as the former employer of the late father of three.
Socialites such as Chiyangwa have been known for their flamboyance when it comes, to situations Jah Prayzah found himself in.
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However, Jah Prayzah did not exude such kind of flamboyance and things did not go well for the “Mudhara Vachauya” hitmaker, as he was pelted with stones when he came to grieve with the family at Glen Forest Cemetery, in Harare yesterday.
His crime, it is alleged “failure to buy a coffin and to provide funeral assistance” for the late Chrispen Nyemba who died in a road accident.
While the facts of the matter are still vague media reports and thousands of comments on social media pages about the incident seem to suggest that Jah Prayzah was supposed to provide some form of assistance to the bereaved family.
The question however, is was it the responsibility of Jah Prayzah to buy funeral cover for his former employee, or to provide the grieved with financial assistance. The quick answer is NO. Jah Prayzah cannot micro manage the affairs of his employees it is their duty to ensure that they have funeral coverage and life insurance that will make sure that their families are well taken after when they are gone.
It’s very unfortunate that most artists and other players in the arts industry do not see the importance of insurance and prefer to get handouts when they die or fall ill. Hence the much publicised pauper’s burials and the struggles most artists face when they get to their prime.
The violence that occurred at the burial of Jah Prayzah’s former bodyguard is a sign of the cancer that has engulfed the arts industry. A result of this belief in handouts that artists and other workers in the industry believe they should have.
Artists continue to neglect efforts by players in the industry to get financial education, save and take up insurance cover. In 2011, the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe, partnered with Cell Funeral to create a package that would have provided artists with a low cost funeral policy cover that would have ensured that artists would have a decent burial.
The cover named “cell-ebrity funeral cover,” required artists to pay a once off payment of $50 over five months, and Cell Funeral Assurance would provide funeral services that befitted the status of artists in the society. Cell Med was also prepared to launch a low cost medical aid package for artists. But the low uptake of the product resulted in the product folding and Cell Med abandoning their plans to launch a low cost medical insurance for artists.
Who in his normal mind would refuse to pay $50 to cover burial costs that can go up to $1500, well it is artists, and other players in the industry and when disaster strikes they put blame on the person who gave them a job opportunity.
Zimura has a funeral package for composers, which comes as part of musicians being members of Zimbabwe Music Rights Association. However, if this package was voluntary very few artists would have taken up the product.
If the arts industry is to respected and if it is to make a meaningful contribution to the economy of this country players in the industry should learn to be professional and take measures to mitigate against the risks they face in their day to day lives.
The music industry by nature is a high risk job. Risks come from travelling, their work, interaction with fans, health risks and getting old. It is no secret that most artists often struggle to make ends meet after they are past their prime. In Zimbabwe the list of such artists is endless.
Insurance cover is critical for artists because their success curve is very small and it would enable to cover them on a rainy day like when they pass on, or when they are involved in career ending accidents. Like when Peter Moyo’s bassist Emmanuel Sajeni sustained a broken spinal cord when Peter Moyo’s band members were involved in a car accident in Kadoma on their way from Gokwe.
Its unfortunate that Jah Prayzah was pelted with stones, but beneath all this drama and controversy is the sad truth that artists and players in the industry need to get protection from the risks they face daily. And Insurance is the solution.
The Next Article will focus on the type of insurance cover artists especially musicians and their employees can get to protect them from different perils.