'If Macheso scolds me I won't retaliate'

HARARE - After many years of near-misses, the album Syllabus has propelled dendera musician Suluman Chimbetu to the top of Zimbabwe’s music industry.

Despite being the son of late music legend Simon Chimbetu, Sulu’s rise to the top was far from a bed of roses. The 31-year old musician who picked up three 2012 National Arts Merit Awards (Nama) gongs, recently spoke to Daily News on Sunday’s Sharon Muguwu. Below are excerpts of the wide-ranging interview.

Who is Suluman Chimbetu?

Sulu is a musician, born in a musical family to Simon Chimbetu and Itai Dick of Chegutu. I was born in 1982 in Chegutu. We are eight in my father’s family.

I worked as a soldier after high school and there are a lot of other things that I did before joining the military. I worked as a farmer and I am still one. I also worked as a farm manager at my late father’s farm for some time. I then attended National Youth Service in 2003.

Tell us more about the Air Force job.

I joined the Air Force soon after completing my National Youth Service training in 2003. I resigned in 2006 after my father had passed away.

Many claim that it is difficult to resign from any job in the security sector. What did you do to make them accept your resignation?

For me it was not difficult to resign as I had my reasons but unfortunately I cannot share them with you.

I went to the authorities and told them my reasons and they considered them and I was allowed to go.

Why did you leave the Air Force, was it because you wanted to take over your father’s legacy?

It was my wish not to see my father’s legacy disappear just like that. I wanted to play my part-to help carry it forward. It was not really the reason why I left the Air Force though.

Do you ever wish you had remained a soldier or you are content as a musician?

If it was possible I could do both. I miss my Air Force job; I loved my job a lot. It always felt great putting on the Air Force uniform.

We understand you look after a large family that your father left behind; can you enlighten us on that?

I always try my best to look after my siblings and it is something that I learnt from my father as he was a unifier in the family.

His help extended to the whole Chimbetu clan. I am just emulating him. I always try my best to help my family out.

Charity begins at home and for me to be able to go and assist others I have to make sure my relatives are well catered for first.

Do you have any political ambitions because there has been a claim that you aspire to be a Member of Parliament in your home area Chegutu?

I am not a politician and I don’t wish to be one. But I have ambitions to run successful businesses.

We want to make the band a business so that everyone understands this is not a hobby but actual employment that people can make a living out of it. I know I can make the country a better place through music.

I don’t wish to be a politician. I want to venture into other businesses that I can enjoy should I decide to quit music.

I want to create a successful business that my children can fall back on in the event of my death; one that will guarantee good livelihood for my band members. I do not want the band to go with me into the grave.

What is the single reason why you have suddenly become successful?

My success comes from God. I fear God.

Do you go to church?

Yes I am a member of the United Family International Church (UFIC). I used to go to the Seventh Day Adventist Church. I grew up in the Adventist church.

I was part of a school choir called Hope Over Jordan and we used to sing in church. I was also in the school choir and house choir at school.

Did your father allow you to do music when you were young?

No, he did not want me to do music. He used to say that it would affect my school work. I was already known as the son of Simon and people used to see me driving around in his cars.

The fame with being Simon Chimbetu’s son made me a spoiled child.

My father feared that music would make it worse. When my father by chance discovered that I was now able to play the guitar, he grounded me as my school performance had deteriorated.

How many children do you have and would you like them to venture into music?

I have four, three boys and a girl. Their ages range from two to five years.

Well I cannot bar them from music like my late father did but I would like to see them doing other things.

It does not mean that being a Chimbetu is an automatic licence to get into music. I would like to see them become successful in other areas. Maybe if one or two get into music that will still be fine.

Can you enlighten us on your marital status because there are claims that you have more than one wife?

I am married. I have one wife. Before I got married to my current wife I was married to someone else but we divorced because all was not well.

Are your children from the same mother?

Just know that they are my children.

Is there bad blood between you and your cousin Tryson?

We are brothers mukoma nemunin’ina. I am surprised when I hear people talking about a feud; I don’t know what they will be talking about. He is my brother.

What about claims that you don’t get along with Alick Macheso?

Mudhara Macheso is more like my father as he previously worked with my father. I have a lot to learn from him. Macheso is a great inspiration to me. He is like a father to me so even if he publicly scolds me for whatever reason I won’t retaliate. I listen to what he says and mend my ways if there is need to.

The church teaches us to respect our elders.

Who was responsible for making you a well-groomed person?

It is down to my family. My mother is a very disciplined person. I also think my military background has something do with it. The people I work with also help me to always behave in a way that is honourable.

Who would you say is your best friend in the arts industry?

I have so many friends, fathers and mothers in the industry. It is a family in which we give each other due respect. I have so many artistes I respect; people whose advice and inspiration has shaped me.

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