Zimbabwe | Lovers offer saxophone melodies to their bride

(Harare) Romantic melodies resonate in the homes and offices of Harare on Wednesday: for Valentine’s Day, squads of saxophonists transformed themselves into sweet note deliverers in the Zimbabwean capital.

Despite a serious economic crisis that has lasted for more than twenty years and a conservative society that discourages public displays of affection, Zimbabwe celebrates Lovers’ Day. And the latest trend in the southern African country is to hire a saxophonist to stage a tender ambush for one’s beloved.

Arundel Matoi, better known in the country by his stage name Sir Arundel, had the mission to surprise Tarisai Leoba, a lawyer, at his workplace.

Hired remotely by the latter’s husband based in Canada, the musician initially pretended nothing when arriving at the firm, claiming to be there to receive legal advice.

Then when the opportunity presented itself, he took out his instrument and launched, to everyone’s surprise, into a solo interpretation of the title Love Nwantiti by Nigerian artist CKay.

“I’ve never been given a surprise like this, I’m shocked. “It all makes me feel very special,” Tarisai Leoba told AFP.

Bouquets of dollars

In a country with galloping hyperinflation, where the highly devalued national currency is replaced on a daily basis by the American dollar, the flowers in the bouquets delivered with the serenades are often interspersed with greenbacks.

Everything is lacking in Zimbabwe where daily life is marked by shortages of food, gasoline, medicine and even electricity.

But “the saxophone is on the rise,” notes Sir Arundel. “People book us for celebrations and weddings. It’s a new “must”: you need a saxophonist at the party.

For Valentine’s Day, “I rehearsed a lot, I have a large number of commitments planned,” says the artist.

The services of a saxophonist are priced between 60 and 200 dollars per service, a small fortune in the country where almost 40% of the population lives below the poverty line.

But the sound of the instrument invented more than 170 years ago by a Belgian is “exotic compared to our traditional music and, as it is a novelty in Zimbabwe, people fall in love with it”, explains Stephen Nyoni, he also a saxophonist, known by his stage name Stavo Sax.

For him too, Valentine’s Day is the busiest day of the year and he runs from appointments to surprise recitals: “The demand is increasing, but there are a lot of saxophonists in Zimbabwe, so we share the clients between us “, he explains.

“People are crying, they are completely confused, some don’t really know how to react. In the end, it’s always a curious mix of emotions,” says Stavo Sax.

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