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Some Reflections on Student activism and the Pitfalls of Celebrity politics in Zimbabwe

By Blessing Vava ''Student activism is a highly conflict-filled terrain with very passionate individuals and groups involved&...

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Orbiruary Tongai Dhewa Moyo



By Blessing Vava





I have always followed the late Tongai Moyo’s music and live performances. I have known fans to mob him and cheer each time he stepped on to the stage. But it was only at the recently held Chibuku Road to fame finals at the Glamis Arena where giants Oliver Mtukudzi, Alick Macheso and Allan Chimbetu were also performing   that  when Dhewa went on stage, it was not the usual happy cheers.
Muchina Muhombe entertains fans at a show

Instead a sombre atmosphere engulfed the whole stadium as the thousands who were in attendance  shook their heads in disbelief seeing how their favourite musician's body had deteriorated due to non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Having known this man as a fighter who did not want his condition to stop him from dishing out his star studded performances had deteriorated so rapidly.

He nevertheless gave his best performance. I and hopefully all other fans, thought the man was going to recover, but unbeknown to me, that was the last time I was to ever see him alive.




 As news of his death on Saturday  the 15th of October filtered, Zimbabweans went into deep mourning.  Dhewa was one of the country’s  finest sungura musicians having carved his own niche of music over the last two decades. A  great entertainer whose outstanding contribution to the music industry is unquestionable. I received the news with great sadness and disbelief,  for he was a musician whose humble beginnings was an inspiration not only to other younger musicians but to all in the entire arts industry.

For a musician who hailed from a small town like Kwekwe it is only hard work and sheer determination to reach the levels of Dhewa. The colourful Kwekwe based musician who was affectionately  known in the music circles with an array of names including Dhewa, Samanyemba, Murozvi Mukuru, igwee, Mopao Mokozi, Father Flower or Muchina Muhombe died on the 15th of September after a long battle with cancer.

I first knew of Dhewa in 1996 when he released his debut album Vimbo, an album laced with classic hits such asChechete,  Chenesayi nzira and Ndinotenda Dhiya to mention but a few. Though the album was well received critics went guns blazing on him accusing him of being a mere Leonard Dembo copy cat, and this marked the beginning of a long musical journey which had its success and wonderful moments that earned him a permanent place as a top sungura musician whose only challenge was self proclaimed sungura king Alick Macheso.

After years of singing what sounded like Dembo's music, Dhewa finally carved his own beat, a fusion of sungura and rhumba and that move earned him respect in the music industry. This is one lesson young musicians should learn from the late sungura maestro that music is all about originality if you are to make it in this highly competitive industry.

For years i had been a Macheso fan who rarely missed his shows but it was Dhewa’s all time great Zvinoita murudo from the album Chingwa that transformed me into a great follower of his music.    Dhewa was a sungura musician with a  difference, he  redefined the fashion of sungura artists where in the past sungura musicians were identified with shabby dressing but he was always smartly dressed.   

He had style, swag and full of confidence and he changed the complexion of live performances by his well choreographed and unmatched performances equalled to none in the local music fraternity so far. Gifted with a great voice, composing and guitar playing skills, Dhewa was a polished entertainer whose departure will be sadly missed by the entire nation and even beyond.

Many had hoped that after managing to acquire the much needed drug to save his life, he was going make it and hopefully carry on with his work. But sadly that was not to be, as the man above called decided that his time was now up and called him home to rest, in a painful way though.

During his last shows you could hear Dhewa chanting, mandiregerera, (you are letting me down) maybe this was in reference to  those in the arts industry whom he felt they  had left him at the greatest time of need. Surely Dhewa had to struggle on his own for six months to raise US$15 000 to raise his medical bills. This is despite statements by some musicians and promoters who promised to assist Dhewa but nothing materialised until his condition became critical. Maybe had it that the  funds  had been availed for Dhewa’s medication the story could have been different today. Dhewa’s death is a call to in the arts industry to assist one another when befallen by such unexpected calamities.

We should not wait until the situation gets worse like what happened to Dhewa. His death has also exposed Zimbabwe’s decaying health delivery systems, for with better and up to date medical facilities Dhewa could have lived long. He has gone but his great works will continue to entertain us. We all hope that those he left behind, Peter and the rest of the Utakataka Express ensemble  will continue from were Muchina Muhombe left from.

Sungura musician Alick Macheso consoles Dhewa's wife
Dhewa's son Peter to take over Utakataka Express
They should remain focused, united and determined for them to remain a force reckon even despite that Dhewa is nolonger there. Peter should be inspired by Sulu, Tryson and the Dembo brothers who are keeping their late father’s legacies. 

Rest in peace our great musician till we meet again.