COULD it be the next Chapter One Leisure Centre for Mutare revelers? This was the question that most revelers were left pondering over after attending the recently held Jah Prayzah and Jah Signal show at the new-look Mandel Nightclub at the heart of Watsomba growth point about 40 kilometres out of Mutare along the Mutare-Nyanga highway.
The renovated nightclub proved beyond doubt that it could be the next home of live shows in Manicaland after scoring high on its inaugural show that recorded a huge turn-out pitting the two renowned artistes at one show.
Doubting Thomas’s thought the approximately 40 kilometre distance from Mutare would be a drawback for most revelers, but apparently it did not deter the Jah Prayzah and Jah Signal fans. Despite the venue being in a rural setting at Watsomba growth point, the new-look leisure centre was renovated to impress as if it was an inner-city establishment.
The modern entertainment arena which is outward bound is being equated to Chapter One Leisure Centre which made headlines back in 2008 and became a game changer as the home of live shows entertainment despite its 21km outward distance from Mutare along the Mutare-Masvingo highway. From its inception, Chapter One transformed the less interesting countryside of Zimunya due to its striking, colossal and modern grandeur and literally became the main venue of live shows in Mutare, taking over from Sakubva Beit Hall and Mutare Hall where most high-profile artistes would previously consider as the leading venues for live shows in the eastern border city.
High profile musicians like the late legendary Oliver Mtukudzi, Tongai Moyo, dancehall sensations like Winky D, Mic Inity, Buffalo Souljah, sungura maestro Alick Macheso, Leonard Zhakata, Sulumani Chimbetu to mention a few all passed through Chapter One until it was guttered by a veld fire and the proprietor Tendai Chitowa was forced to sell the centre for office space to ZAOGA church in 2015.
Mandel Nightclub is being highly praised for its spacious and well secured setup which can accommodate many people, especially uppity revelers that usually enjoy better at venues with VIP sections. Its VIP section is big and has a separate bar facility to ease congestion for its high class patrons that often do not want hustles. Despite the strenuous 40km drive especially after a heavy drinking escapade, the new venue passed its litmus test by drawing an almost sold-out crowd for its first show. Given the sizable number of Mutare socialites that attended, it showed how several upmarket revelers who often shunned The Platinum venue in Mutare were starved of an optional venue for live shows. The Platinum owned by businessman cum politician Esau Mupfumi had taken over as the main venue for live shows since the closure of Chapter One in 2015.
EasternTimeZim Entertainment talked to many revelers especially the elderly and mature people that attended the show who applauded the spacious nature of Mandel compared to the Platinum, which they cited as too small and too congested for their comfort during high profile live shows.
“I attended one show at this local club (name withheld) and it was my last because it was too crowded for comfort, even the VIP area was too small. I really like this new venue Mandel. Its good even for us married women to come with our husbands. Its long distance from town also reduces the riff raff that often fill up shows in town and steal people’s phones, so for me this is my ideal venue,” said one lady that requested anonymity.
“I often attended the Tuku Winter show at Montclair Hotel because of the decency of the venue and this venue passed the test for me. We needed this venue as an option. Some of us are in our late 50s and cannot mix with youngsters at crowded venues. So the spacious venue at Mandel gives us the opportunity to attend live shows and see our favourite artistes like Jah Prayzah,” said Lynette Chakanyuka.
The proprietor, Lovemore Mandimutsira, a prominent socialite and businessman opened up the venue in style coupling the inaugural show with his 40th birthday celebration. Mandimutsira said more high profile shows will be organized with multi-award winning sungura maestro Alick Macheso expected to perform next on November 8.
The upgraded leisure centre in Watsomba which has the capacity to accommodate over 2500 people is expected to breathe life into the thriving business and administrative centre for Mutasa communal lands. Around Watsomba are farms where horticulture farming leads followed by small scale gold mining exploits as the main economic drivers.
Mutasa Rural District Council chief executive officer George Bandure who attended the inaugural show applauded the investment by Mandimutsira. He said In Zimbabwe most growth points have been turned into residential areas with little meaningful capital investments but with more young entrepreneurs like Mandimutsira, governments’ rural industrialization plans will be made possible.
Bandure added that it has however not been easy to attract the right kind of industry, particularly the propulsive growth industries that have extensive multiplier effects to influence socio-economic development of peripheral rural areas. Watsomba Growth Point is however evidently expanding with several new shops being constructed around the old established businesses.
“The development of such an infrastructure in Mutasa is a commendable move. In line with devolution we anticipate that our districts’ gross domestic product will increase accordingly,” said Bandure.