By Terrence Mapurisana
With his trademark, a deep baritone voice Tawanda Gudhlanga spoke with ministers, world leaders, celebrities, authors, scientists, comedians, athletes — everyone.
The Award-winning broadcaster died Wednesday morning at his home in Zimre Park, Harare.
He succumbed to Covid-19 complications.
He was 41.
His career as a producer/presenter started on ZBC’s Classic263 — and it’s where he got his name, The Big Man as well.
For about 13 years or so and across the platforms of radio, television and digital media, Gudhlanga’s many dozens of interviews, awards, and local acclaim stand as a testament to his unique and lasting talent as a broadcaster.
Chirandu as I used to call him, Gudhlanga always viewed his interview subjects as the true star of his programs when he was still with Classic263 before he joined Ya FM where he was now working as a General Manager, and himself as merely an unbiased conduit between the guest and audience.
Whether on radio or television, Gudhlanga was always engrossed in the guest. Always listening to the answer, always learning, so that he can be better every day at learning.
The Mutare-born Tawanda Gudhlanga was an indifferent student but said he always had an innate curiosity. Tawanda Gudghlanga also loved his music, especially African rhythms.
As we drove to Chinhoyi University of Technology one Friday afternoon for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Workshop, I was bombarded with the music of Hugh Masekela, Zivanai Masango, Oliver Mtukudzi, Angelique Kidjo, among other African artists.
He loved African music.
He also tried his hand on music and in 2009 he recorded a song, titled Bwela Mudzimu a duet with Andrew Kiposa and was included on the album Another Brick3 -a Mono Mukundu production.
By 2013, he was hosting one of the Station’s flagship The Morning Grill, Drive Time and the program, African Spirituality.
On ZBCTV, he hosted Economic Forum, Liquid Soil and Zim-China Mega Projects programs.
I guess recruiting somebody like Tawanda on Classic263 made a lot of sense, because he had established himself as a kind of guy who would get big guests,.
We would have big names on radio and it became sort of the linchpin of our prime-time lineup.
National Arts Council Communications and Marketing Manager Rodney Ruwende who worked with Gudhlanga for close to 15 years at Classic263 described him as a humorous, fast learner and talented presenter who could easily adapt to situations on the job.
Personally, he had become more than a friend and it’s sad to come to terms that I will never see Tawanda again.
Gu as some would call him stayed with Classic263 for over 12 years before joining Ya FM as a General Manager.
During interviews, he didn’t challenge people, but he did get information. He was pretty good at that.
Obviously unlike other young journalists and producers/presenters of nowadays, Gudhlanga did a lot of preparation and research before his interviews.
His last show on Classic263 was on a Saturday and Sunday 6pm to 9pm in January this year.
Among his many awards include the Traffic safety Council of Zimbabwe Outstanding Journalist- radio 2017, National Arts Merit Award for Outstanding Journalist-Radio 2016, Institute of Project Management Best Radio Journalist 2016 and the Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers Best radio Journalist 2016.
Go well Chirandu- MHSRIP!!!
The Writer Terrence Mapurisana is a Station Manager for Classic263 Radio.
Station Manager –Classic263
Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation
Tel: +263 242498713
Mobile: +263 712 861 622; +263 772 432 587