By Fidelis Manyange
AT this time of the year, the late Fanuel Nyasha ‘System’ Tazvida would have a tight schedule — he would be fully booked from September until New Year.
Tazvida, whose paternal surname was Mazhetese, was a social commentator par excellence.
His music was social commentary mixed with humorous lyrics and satirical subjects.
The Chazezesa Challengers front man’s music resonated with rural, mining and farm folk.
His music popularised this class of people linking them to the urban folk like Macheso once said: “Vatsigiri vedu masalad nevemumapurazi tovasanganisa pakuzora butter nepareza waya ipapo hauzoona musiyano tavakuvatambisa pastage apa.”
It’s unfortunate that many people started appreciating Tazvida’s music after his death and many wish they had attended his shows.
The hit making legend passed on on February 4 in 1999 at the young age of 31, after a short illness. He was laid to rest at Unit L Cemetery in Chitungwiza.
Tazvida who catapulted to stardom with songs such as ‘Vaforomani’ and ‘Anodyiwa haataure’ was born on May 2 1965 in Zaka and he composed and sang his music in the Shona language but was popular among all dialects throughout the country, especially in Matabeleland. Tazvida became a darling of the Ndebele speaking people where he created a huge fan base in Victoria Falls. His Chinotimba Hall shows, which he regularly held, attracted huge crowds.
I had an opportunity to travel with the late musician on many occasions in mining and farming towns, such as Mutorashanga, Chakari,Raffingora, Tsungubvi, Jumbo, Mvurwi, Guruve and many others.
When he had a show in Victoria Falls, Tazvida would make sure he held other shows on the way in Chegutu, Kadoma, Kwekwe, Bulawayo to cut expenses.
Tazvida, together with his band manager, backing vocalist and lead guitarist Leeroy Lunga, used to pick me up at my workplace at ZBC Mbare Studios on Friday afternoons after my shift for weekend shows outside Harare. Surprisingly, on the way, the shy and quiet Tazvida would play Madzibaba Nicholas Zakaria and Khiama Boys’ music.
Zakaria and Macheso’s Khiama Boys was his favourite band.
Tazvida used to travel in his BMW with his manager while the rest of the band travelled in the microbus.
Most of the musicians of that time used to travel with their band members crammed in battered trucks with their instruments; Tazvida was one of the few highly organised artistes.
He had songs dzaitsiura chaunga and the general populace.
He had lyrics like ‘Vagere mushe havadaro’ or ‘Hautani kuonererwa mukoma kana vanhu vawanda iwe kuda kugofagofa musindo seunogona kurowa…’
Some of his lyrics appeared weird and meaningless at first but after repeatedly playing, one realised they were pregnant with meaning; like ‘Dai hanzvadzi yairoorwa ndingadai ndakaroora yangu’, ‘Nyaya dzerudo dzinonakidza parunhare’,or ‘Mabhawa akawanda munyika asika kushaiwa mari hona bhawa rawe jere kwandiri’.
The dreadlocked musician stood his ground when some people called him ‘Bharanzi’ or ‘Bhambi’ considering his lifestyle, dressing in long leather caps or headscarfs, lyrical content and album titles like ‘Watosvorwa’, ‘Huni nyoro mumoto’ and ‘Rimi remoto’, among others.
I still remember in September 1997 when he made his singles collection album with Gramma Records, he had an altercation with the recording company’s marketing manager Dunstan Ndebele over the name of the album. System had suggested the name ‘The Very Best of Tazvida Irombe WeZhira Singles Collection Volume 1’ whilst Ndebele argued that the name was too long and “…raiwe rechibharanzi”
Giving his final ruling, Tazvida said: “Ndini ndakanyora nekuimba nziyo idzodzo kana maakuda izvozvo ndochinja stable contract yangu ikapera”
At the end Tazvida had his way.
Tazvida’s music career dates back to the early 1980s when he was a backing vocalist and a doorman with Khiama Boys and Ephraim Joe’s Sungura Boys.
It is when he was with Nicholas Zakaria, Cephas Karushanga and Alick Macheso, Tineyi Chikupo and Maggie Gweshe, now Zakaria’s current wife, the Khiama Boys, based at Juru Growth Point or PaBhora that he was granted an opportunity to write and sing his debut single ‘Mabhauwa’, which was the name of a prominent businessman at that growth point.
He then wrote and recorded the song ‘Dhiya Ungwarire’ under Ephraim Joe’s Sungura Boys. Noticing how good he was as a musician, he went his own way and formed the Chazezesa Challegers.
Tazvida’s album ‘Rudo Tsika Nemagariro’ sold more than 20 000 copies while ‘Mutunhu Unemago’ sold more than 30 000 copies.
At the time of his death, ‘the Microphone Wizard’ was ranked among the top five selling artistes in Zimbabwe. Tazvida left behind wife Barbra Mabuyaye, who is still alive. Former band members Lucky Mumiriki and Leeroy Lunga have several times tried to revive smoko music but they have faced stiff resistance from System’s brothers, Isaac and King Tazvida together with Barbra. Leeroy has since relocated to South Africa while Mumiriki is successfully recovering from a stroke.