'ill health, no music gigs'

Zenoyise Madikwa

Zenoyise Madikwa

Afro-folk star Umanji - real name Maruti Nkuna - has fallen on hard times. He says in his hour of need, the music industry has shunned him since he announced that he was HIV-positive a few years ago.

He accused promoters and Amaha of ignoring him and not booking him for gigs though they know that he is bankrupt.

This is not the first time Umanji has accused the music industry of neglecting him. Last year he claimed his recording company, Sony-BMG "dumped him like a used condom" when he was hospitalised for an undisclosed illness in 2005. He then accused hislive-in lover at the time of infecting him.

"African Musicians Against HIV-Aids [Amaha] did not do anything for me. They did not even call me for gigs. Promoters also rejected me. Prosper Mkwaiwa even told people not to book me for shows because I could collapse on stage."

Doc Shebeleza, the chairman of Amaha, said Umanji has never asked for help. "We are willing to help him. We do not discriminate against anyone. He must come and talk to us."

Mkwaiwa denied Umanji's claim but insisted the stage was for energetic people who can sing loud.

"If an artist is in poor health, it can be a problem for promoters. The stage needs vitality."

Umanji said he has abstained from sex since 2005 and that he is concentrating on getting better.

"I decided to stop all relationships and take care of my health," said the 40-year-old musician.

"I have finished composing two albums. I performed in two shows during the festive season and I am ready for more shows. I am taking good care of myself."