New Beat: How Prison Changed Dudu Manhenga

After going through a thorny path in her life, she at one point thought she was as good as dead - it seemed the whole world had turned against her, except for her loving husband and children who always stood by her during the difficult times.

For the first time in her life, she spent at least four days in blankets without taking a bath as a result of what she was going through. That was after she was sentenced to 18 months in prison for culpable homicide and driving with a learner’s licence without supervision.

It was a difficult time for musician Dudu Manhenga, but today she thanks God for allowing her to go through such an experience.

Speaking at a women’s breakfast meeting organised by Sylvia Sanyanga in the capital over the weekend, Dudu revealed what she went through as a prisoner at Chikurubi Female Prison and encouraged women to be strong and be able to face harsh realities.
Female Prisoners 

“I am 36 years old, but because of what I went through, I feel like I am a 60-year-old locked in a 36-year-old body. I used to see myself on a high level, but that was before what happened in my life when I spent two weeks in prison at Chikurubi.

“To tell you the truth, I felt like I was dead, but that was the time that my music was given more airplay than before on radio stations.

“During weekends in prison, we were allowed to listen to radio and I heard my music being played on every local radio channel and the other inmates would ask me: ‘Is that your music being played?’ and I would just say ‘yes’,” she said.

She highlighted that when she went into prison she was reduced to nothing.

“You know what they do when you get in prison; they first remove that diva attitude. For me, they asked me to remove my headgear, then my wedding ring because when you are there you are nobody’s wife. I removed my ‘heels’ and put on those popular ‘pata pata’. The other thing is that you cannot wear is a bra when you are in prison because they are afraid that you might commit suicide. I lived without it.

“I was nobody inside there but just a number. I was given number 8076 of 2013 and they would call me by that number,” she said.

She said she had lived a charming life after having hogged the limelight at a tender age when she was only 16, but all hell broke loose when she had an accident that resulted in the death of Graham Martin Millward and was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Dudu successfully appealed against the18-month jail sentence and was released from prison after paying $1 000 fine for the crime.

“My life was so amazing. At the age of 16 I would go to school and brag of having shared the stage with Lovemore Majaivana. By the age of 19 I had met the love of my life. Everything about my life seemed to be just perfect until the day reality struck me at Chikurubi prison,” she said.

She said she lost people she thought were close to her. That is the time she learnt that people who love you will always be there, but those who pretend will desert you in hard times. When she was released from prison, she went to stay with her relative because she could not afford the life she used to live.

“Before I went to prison I had a deal with PSI to be their brand ambassador, but when I was released they said they could not work with an ex-convict as their brand ambassador.” Today, she likens herself to the biblical Saul who became Paul.

“One thing that I have learnt is I am not perfect and I am not under pressure to be perfect. The only person who was perfect on this earth is Jesus Christ,” she said. After going through the hard times, she decided to receive and accept her call which she used to run away from — God’s calling into His ministry.

“I received my calling in 2007, but that was the time my music was at the peak, so I said ‘God, I am making my name let me do this first and I will come back to you’. “I did my third album and that is the time I should have quit following my own desires of becoming a music diva and follow God’s calling,” she said.

She highlighted that when the accident happened, she told herself that she had to choose to be a either diva or a believer. “Instead of paying my way out, I prayed my way out and today I value being in God’s ministry. I wish I had accepted my calling earlier.”

She said she does not regret going to prison because it was a learning and transforming phase for her. - The Herald

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