By Fidelis Manyange
THE late Safirio Madzikatire, aka Mukadota in the arts industry, is one of the best comedians and musicians to emerge from Zimbabwe.
But how many people know he was a carpenter in Mbare before becoming a full-time entertainer?
How many people also know that ‘Safirio’ was not his real name?
His real name was Xavier Madzikatire, hence ‘Safirio was a corrupted version of ‘Xavier’.
This legend was well-known for mixing humour and music on stage.
I vividly remember waiting for my ‘O’-Level results in 1993 when I had the opportunity of attending Mukadota’s show at The Grand Hotel in Kadoma where he was playing with the Rich Maize Band .
The talented comedian was dressed in his trademark shiny-red outfit, similar to Lovemore Majaivana’s (another prolific musician of his time).
During the interval, I had the privilege to be close to him when he was playing his favourite game – flipper.
He had to be pulled back on stage before finishing his game by band-member Elizabeth Taderera, aka Katarina.
Patriot Arts recently chatted with Mukadota’s first born son, Elijah Madzikatire, also known as ‘Bhero Mukadota’.
Elijah also used to front the Bhero Band.
“My Father’s real name was Xavier Madzikatire,” he said.
“The name Safirio was a corrupted version of Xavier.”
Safirio Madzikatire was born on April 2 1932 and came from Tanda, Rusape.
He grew up in Mbare with his mother’s family, the Madzikatires, and was his mother’s only child.
It was in the 1940s when he was doing primary education at Chitsere in Mbare that he was groomed by Linah and Kenneth Mataka whose drama was already featuring on the Rhodesia Broadcasting Corporation (RBC).
They taught the young Safirio how to play the guitar, tap-dance as well as stage work.
The determined Safirio started playing the solo guitar known as the banjo in ‘Old Bricks’ location in Mbare.
Mbare then, was awash with stars.
“We grew up rubbing shoulders with people like Freddy Mkwesha, prominent boxer Tar Baby and we used to peep through the window to watch Thomas Mapfumo rehearsing,” said Elijah.
Elijah said his father used the famous Stodart Hall for rehearsals.
In the 1970s, Safirio, together with Susan Chenjerai’s daughters, teamed up to make Mhuri yavaMakore which was aired on radio and produced by former broadcaster Webster Shamu.
“Chenjerai’s daughter, the late Patricia played the role of chimbwido and I was Rwizi,” said Elijah.
A disagreement between the producers led to the change of names to Mhuri yavaMukadota in 1972.
The popular Surf television commercial ‘Bata tambo tsvuku’ which featured Elijah and his father Safirio culminated in Lever Brothers sponsoring the drama Mhuri yavaMukadota on television.
“My father was ever busy – preparing the weekly dramas for both radio and television and fulfilling the live shows around the country,” said Elijah.
When he began his career, Safirio had no musical instrument.
However, he had female dancers and backing vocalists, the colourful Sea Cottage Sisters.
They had to fuse with other already established bands like the Tycoons, Afro Jazz Fiesta, The Delights and others for live shows.
As Safirio made money through radio and television dramas, he managed to buy a full set of instruments and people started flocking from other bands to his newly-formed Ocean City Band.
The band consisted of the talented saxophonist Philip Svosve who played bass guitar, Adam Maliko who played the lead, Shoki on rhythm and Jonathan on drums, among others.
“It was with the Ocean City Band that I wrote and performed songs like ‘Ishe hamuna urombo’, ‘Pasi harigute’ and ‘Karate’,” said Elijah.
“I played the rhythm guitar on all songs.
“One day when I was at Queens Hotel I saw a talented girl who used to dance there entertaining people and I went straight to tell my father about her.
“We later found the same girl entertaining people in Rusape when we were on our way for a show in Mutare and we told her to come to Mutare to meet my father.
“Mdhara was impressed.
“That was how Katarina joined Mukadota to make famous songs such as ‘KwaHunyani’, ‘Ndine mukomana wangu’ and ‘Ndatenga mota’.
According to Elijah, the band changed its name to ‘The Brave Son’ after a certain incident.
“We had shows lined up in Harare on Friday and Saturday, but all our band members unceremoniously left on a Tuesday to form another band,” said Elijah.
“We had no option, but to recruit and rehearse with new members in two days, so I scrounged around and came up with the likes of Tobias Areketa, his brother and others.
“Together we practiced day and night and held two successful shows.
“I emerged the ‘hero’ hence Mudhara Mukadota called the band The Brave Son in honour of me.”
Safirio had three children, Elijah, the late Rufus and Nancy.
The Culture Fund of Zimbabwe honoured Safirio by erecting a statue and an arrangement is in the pipeline to establish a Mukadota Comedy Festival aimed at identifying and rewarding upcoming comedians.
Superstar Oliver Mtukudzi also dedicated his song ‘Andinzwi’ to his friend Safirio.
In 2009, Safirio was awarded a posthumous Arts Service by The National Arts Council.
Elijah, although laid back now, followed his father’s footsteps.
He has featured in local soapies and films like Studio 263 as ‘Huni’, Tiriparwendo as ‘Mambo Rima’ and in Everyone’s Child as ‘Mdhara Shagi’.
He also featured in international movies like Soldier Soldier, Under the Sun and The Evil in Our Midst.
As Patriot Arts said goodbye to Elijah at his home in Cranborne, Harare, his phone rang and the ringing tone was his father’s hit ‘KwaHunyani’.
Could it be Elijah misses his old man?