Musicians rights advocate Edith WeUtonga wins award Edith WeUtonga- Picture by Tawad Dayv Chagar

Mbulelo Mpofu, [email protected]

EDITH WeUtonga Katiji, the United Kingdom-based Zimbabwean guitarist and vocalist, has been a beacon of change in the music industry. Her dedication and advocacy have been recognised with the prestigious Nyrkki Award from the Finnish Musicians’ Union. 

The accolade celebrates her significant contributions to the music sector and was presented during the SASK’s Solidarity Days in Hämeenlinna, Finland.

As the founder and president of the Zimbabwe Musicians’ Union (ZIMU), which marks its 10th anniversary this year, and the Vice President of the International Federation of Musicians (FIM), Edith has been a trailblazer. She stands as the first African woman in the presidium of the FIM, showcasing her exceptional technical skills and leadership.

Speaking from her UK base, Edith shared with Saturday Leisure her driving force.

“When we do the work we do, we do it out of a passion to see a better future for musicians. Having been in the sector for 20+ years and realising that I am the change I want to see, I decided to stand up and out! I have an amazing team at ZIMU that is helping us to amplify the work we are doing and trying to achieve. This award comes at a time when we decided we would walk the talk and do what needs to be done regardless of what some people may say,” he said. 

Edith WeUtonga receives her Finnish Musicians’ Union’s Nyrkki award. — Picture by Tawad Dayv Chagar

Edith’s efforts have propelled ZIMU to unprecedented heights.

“We are proud to have reached almost 10 provinces now, something that has never been achieved by a union in Zimbabwe since independence. We are the first union to be working at an international level with the world federation and sitting in the presidium. We are proud to have stood and remained consistent and effective for 10 years now as we celebrate 10 years this December.”

Affectionately known as “Mama Bass” in music circles, Edith has been a staunch advocate for equality and the advancement of women in the music industry. She has forged new operational models and networks, both locally and internationally, and has navigated ZIMU through challenging terrains while fostering unity and solidarity among musicians.

The Mukaranga hitmaker’s courage and commitment to improving the working conditions of musicians globally have been unwavering. The collaboration between the Finnish Musicians’ Union, The Trade Union Solidarity Centre of Finland (SASK), and ZIMU since 2022 has further cemented her status as a deserving recipient of the Nyrkki Award.

The Nyrkki Award, initiated in 2021, honours those who actively champion the rights of music performers. Designed by artist Jani Leinonen, it symbolises the strength and unity in the music community, as reflected by its inaugural recipient, musician Aki Hauru. — Follow on X @MbuleloMpofu

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