By Fidelis Manyange
IN the past, we have had artistes who split after gaining fame together in various circles, be it music or acting.
After those splits, some artistes rose to greater fame (and sometimes fortune) while others fell by the wayside (sometimes never to rise again).
Some, like the Wailers trio of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, continued excelling in their own right after the split. Locally, we had the Kassongo Band of former freedom fighters Ketai Muchawaya, Knowledge Kunenyati and Marko Sibanda who excelled in their respective bands after the split.
Muchawaya formed Simba Brothers, and Kunenyati created his Muzokomba Movers, named after the village he hailed from, while Sibanda named his group Insiza Brothers, again after his hometown.
When Nicholas Zakaria, who fronted the Khiama Boys, decided to take haulage truck driving as a career in 1998, he locked up all the instruments and left his band members, who included Alick Macheso and his younger brother Zakaria Zakaria, stranded.
Dzivaresekwa-based Shepherd Chinyani, a seasoned sungura artiste, provided them with his instruments to rehearse and do live shows. A fellow Chitungwiza friend, General Luke — a roadside motor mechanic — offered them his Peugeot 504 station wagon to carry the instruments and band members to live shows. This led Macheso to record his debut album ‘Magariro’ which catapulted him to stardom. Macheso has remained king of sungura to date and he was even made the Red Cross Ambassador in this country while Madzibaba Nicholas Zakaria, despite churning album after album, has stagnated.
Braveman Chizvino, aka Baba Harare, who was Jah Prayzah’s lead guitarist as well as backing vocalist for several years, became a successful musician after a fallout with the Uzumba-born musician. Today he is one of the local musicians whose shows are well attended and has recently been appointed the brand ambassador of a popular local beverage.
One good example of a split which sank both talented artistes is the duo of Kelvin Chikore and Rangarirai Sagombeto, better known as R&K African Sounds, of ‘Tina’ fame. This debut song was an instant hit and the duo became celebrities overnight as they churned out hit after hit. Their shows were always sold out. Sharing of the proceeds was the root of their split. Kelvin accused Rangarirai of buying himself properties in his home area, Chiendambuya, at the expense of others. He was accused of taking the larger chunk of the proceeds while Kelvin got a pittance. This led to them going their separate ways; each leading his own band. But, the split also divided their fanbase which subsequently vanished into thin air. Both eventually quit music to pursue other careers.
Rangarirai is trying to come back with a recently recorded mediocre album, ‘Muchina Muhombe’. Things will never be the same for the two talented artistes who fell from grace. The same goes for the ‘Ndichakumirira’ hitmakers, the duo of Dino Mudondo and Willom Tight, who made waves in the 2000s with their afro-reggae hits. They sank into oblivion after their split. They made spirited efforts to come back, but to no avail. One local promoter is currently making frantic efforts to revive their comatose careers, but it seems the fans are no longer interested in them judging by the poor attendances. In street lingo, ‘zvakayendwa, hapana hapana’.
The Somanje brothers, Josephat and Daiton, popularly known as ‘Pengaudzoke’, were revered musicians in this country who came from humble beginnings and made a name for themselves on the local scene. They used to ride bicycles from Marondera to Harare to record their first album. Their sungura brand was unique as their beat was incomparable. They were the darlings of the mining towns and farms, especially around Marondera where they came from.
The group, whose first recordings were spearheaded by the late heroes Alexander Kanengoni and Oliver Mtukudzi while they were playing around Beatrice farms later split after accusing each other of mismanagement of funds and witchcraft. Their separation remained irreconcilable until Daiton’s death. Josephat, who is surviving by repairing electrical gadgets in Marondera, is still into music but is now a pale shadow of the original Pengaudzoke.
Soon after the death of dendera maestro Simon Chimbetu, his young brother Allan Chimbetu, together with son Sulumani, inherited the Orchestra Dendera Kings and successfully held well-attended shows which led them to record the hit song ‘Soni’. The two later had a fallout after Sulumani accused his uncle of selfishly using his father’s property to his own advantage and taking more money, leaving Simon’s widow and family stranded. This led to Allan forming Orchestra Dendera Kings Central Committee while Sulu went on with his father’s Orchestra Dendera Kings, taking with him key band members — bassist Moffat Nyamupandu, lead guitarist Knowledge Ngoma and rhythmist Solo Makore. Allan, despite being blessed with a good voice and excellent guitar-playing skills, found the going tough while playing second fiddle to Sulumani.
In mbira music, Mbira Dzenharira ensemble, under Sekuru Mushore, and based in Makomo eNharira in Norton, became a successful mbira outfit locally and abroad. The group was led by Tendai Gahamadze and Nyamasvisva MaAfrica, both accomplished mbira players. The group later split, with Gahamadze inheriting the name while MaAfrica formed Mawungira Enharira. Since their split, the ‘Ndoendawo kwaAmbuya’ hitmakers have witnessed their fanbase dwindling. They have reduced themselves to ordinary mbira players. MaAfrica is now teaching mbira music part-time overseas to earn a living.
Fungai Zata and his friend Zemba grew up in Murehwa’s Zata Village playing mbira music at biras in villages around Murehwa Growth Point. They later formed Zata Zemba Mbira Group after their surnames. They became popular, especially on the-then ZBC Radio 2’s ‘Mbira DzaanaGwenyambira’ programme. They used to collect handsome royalties from the Zimbabwe Music Rights Association (ZIMURA) every year because of massive airplay. Their track ‘Musha Matare’ became popular and was used as a theme track for years on ZBC Radio 2’s ‘Tsika Dzedu’ programme (opening and closing billboard).
Zata Zemba were invited to play abroad, in countries such as Lesotho and South Africa. Unfortunately, they later split after Zemba accused his friend of being unfair with their takings. Zata resorted to repairing electric gadgets and running a hair salon at Murehwa Centre while Zemba reduced himself to an ordinary mbira player to date.
The group which once put Murehwa on the map is no more.
Splits are not unique to the music industry only, they are also common in the acting industry. Admire Kuzhangaira, aka Bhutisi, and Roland Lunga, aka Boss Kedha, became a household name as comedians after as their skits went viral. With the wide scale use of social media in Zimbabwe, they became a part of our everyday life. After their split, Boss Kedha went underground while Bhutisi is still visible in the entertainment industry but not with the same punch they delivered with Boss Kedha.
The same happened when they split with fellow comedians Maggi and Gonyeti at PO Box TV. Co-founder Lucky Aaron lamented this tragic development as they lost all the clients who were accustomed to seeing them perform together. Naiza Boom family which comprising talented actors, like Terrence Chirinda (Jatiwero), Yvonne Chirowa (Vovo), Myron Muswe (Ozemwa) and Enlight Muzira (Netsai), left the group in October last year after nine years, citing low salaries and unprofessional behaviour from the group’s director, Michael Machiwona. After the departure of some of these talented artistes, Naiza Boom lost key sponsors and commercials. Their YouTube views tumbled.
Such is the nature of splits; it’s like gambling — you roll with the dice.