Joseph Garakara breaks silence

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By Fidelis Manyange

THE man who made an impact in the music industry on both radio and television about two decades ago with his song ‘Idya Banana’ Joseph Garakara, the frontman of Mbama Express is still in the game.

Garakara made waves on local ZTV on the programme

‘Mutinhimira weMumhanzi/Ezomgido’ in 2006 with his music video ‘Idya Banana’.

The song featured the dancing group Mambokadzi.

And 2006 was Garakara’s year as he scooped the Best

Sungura Artist Award, the Most Promising Upcoming Artist Award and Best Song of the year.

That year also saw Garakara being named musician-of- the-month by ZIMPAPERS while a prominent local departmental store also named  him musician of the moment. He spent  the day signing autographs for the customers.

At the 2006 ZIMA awards, Garakara, together with other prominent musicians assembled a live band which performed for the guests.

Garakara played the bass guitar with Oliver Mtukudzi on acoustic, Blessing Mparutsa (Dudu Manhenga’s husband) played the drums, while Alick Macheso, Dudu Manhenga, Albert Nyathi and Fungisai Mashavave did the vocals.

Patriot Arts recently caught up with Garakara at

Domboramwari Primary School where he is the Deputy Headmaster.

Joseph Garakara in class.

He was was born in Mhondoro-Ngezi and comes from

Mutandwa Village where he did his primary and secondary education at Benhura School.

His musical journey dates back to his boyhood days.

As young as five years, he was already playing the mbira instrument in biras with his family group called Mhuri yekwaGarakara.

The talented instrumentalist joined ZINTEC for his teaching course.

After teaching for two years, he joined the Zimbabwe Music College for his National Certificate in music (ethnomusicology).

Garakara also did a Bachelor of Arts and Media Studies Degree.

“It was during my time at the Zimbabwe Music College I was helped by my fellow students to record my debut album ‘Uneni’ which featured the song ‘Idya Banana’,” said Garakara.

“Since the album was not done well by Record and Tape Production (RTP), I took it to Gramma Records as a demo CD when in actual fact it was a master copy.

“The recording and marketing company accepted it at once.

“I renamed the album ‘Tapinda Tapinda’ which featured songs ‘Tadyarira Rukonye’, ‘Ndege Yemashanga’, ‘Dzangova Ndangariro’ and ‘Idya Banana’.

“When I recorded the album I thought my favourite track ‘Ndege Yemashanga’ was going to be the people’s favourite, but ‘Idya Banana’ became an instant hit.”

The late Tongai Moyo also experienced the same fate with the track ‘Samanyemba’, which was a filler track, becoming the people’s choice.

Garakara’s young brother, Norman Tapambwa, and Spencer Khumuluni played both bass and lead guitars while Jacob Moyana did all the rhythms.

As to how he met Mambokadzi Dancing Queens, Garakara said he used to admire the Paris-based Congo musician Dany Engobo and his dancing girls called Les Coeurs Brises, therefore when he saw Mambokadzi dancing for Tongai Moyo on the song ‘Zakeyo’ at Baghdad Stadium in 2006, during the Umdhala Wethu Gala, he admired them and talked to them about the video ‘Idya Banana’ with them.

After ‘Tapinda Tapinda’, Garakara went on to record other albums like ‘KaOne Nezai’, ‘Chamboko Chewaya’, ‘Forever Mine’, ‘Kuti Zvityise’, ‘Pfuti Yerudo’, ‘Mbama YemaMbongi’ (a surprise clap) and ‘Farisai’ which is currently doing well on the local airwaves.

On this latest gem of an album, Garakara experimented with other genres like kwela and marabi.

At Domboramwari Primary School, Garakara is much loved and appreciated.

“When I arrived to teach at Domboramwari in 2006 the song ‘Idya Banana’ was making waves on the local television programme ‘Mutinhimira Wemimhanzi/Ezomgido’,” he said (sic).

“At first the staff and most of the pupils didn’t recognise me but some Grade Seven students noticed as I was passing by their block and they started singing the song ‘Idya Banana’.

“The following day was a Friday and ‘Ezomgido’ had been aired the previous day and the whole school had a ‘party’ at assembly as almost all of them recognised that I was on television.”

This year, Garakara was awarded Best Teacher and Performer Award by the Music Consultancy Society.

He is currently writing visual and performing arts books for pupils from Grades 3-7 to be used in line with the new curriculum.

In addition, he is also writing a short play called ‘Ziso Rinemboni Rinoona’.

Garakara is married and blessed with six children.

He remains an inspiration not only in his circles but nationwide.

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