Remembering Tongai “Dhewa” Moyo

HARARE - Today October 15 marks exactly two years since the passing on of sungura music star Tongai ‘Dhewa’ Moyo.

His music fans, his adoring friends and relatives will converge at Harare’s Harare Gardens on Sunday, October 20 for a music showcase to remember the sungura music star.

The Harare Gardens concert is one of three to be held in Zimbabwe, with the other two taking place in Kwekwe and Chinhoyi.

Among those set to perform on Sunday are Botswana diva Slizer, Alick Macheso, Suluman Chimbetu, Peter Moyo, Freddy Gwala, Progress Chipfumo and Bev.

Tongai Moyo died on October 15, 2011 aged 44.

Tongai’s death robbed the local music industry of a creative and hardworking musician whose illustrious career saw him release 14 studio albums.

Popular for his smart costumes and exciting musical videos, Dhewa died during the peak of his musical career.

At the time of his death, Tongai was counted among the top five musicians in Zimbabwe, in terms of popularity and quality live music showcases.

His concerts, even as he lay sick at his hospital bed, continued to be publicised and with medication he managed to hold forth showcases against all odds.

Music promoters continued to engage him, in a way, as gesture to help him meet his soaring medical bills.

Doctors feared for worst as he continued to perform while on medication, but the sungura star defied all, reasoning that his non-performance would render him penniless.

As he struggled to meet hospital costs, cancer continued to eat him, but here was a brave man who above all vowed to continue labouring for his family and band.

I had time to interact with Tongai on several occasions and he had all these many ideas, dreams and aspired to do well in everything that he touched.

In the ensuing days leading to his death, I visited him while he was hospitalised and I could see a beaming Tongai who was as hopeful that he would fight this dreaded disease called cancer.

As a celebrity his life was without trace and the journalists were always at hand to write about his success, failures and shortcomings.

Indeed the said ‘juicy’ stories were to surface and these included talk about his late wife who reportedly committed suicide, girlfriends and all.

With all these and many more, the rumour mill was awash with funny stories, others true and other exaggerated.

The idea to fight off a sniffing media followed the sungura star to his death bed as he was reported to be broke, considering that he had 14 albums to his name. He had no house of his own, the media reported and he had sired children with various women.

And as they believe in our tradition, the spirit of death combs several other bad spirits and Dhewa’s pot was too full it suffocated him.

Mutare businessman Esau Mupfumi, a close friend to the late had no kind words for the media during Tongai’s burial as he put the star’s death squarely on the scribes’ shoulders.

He blamed them for continuously hitting a man who was already down.

Two years down the lane though, Tongai’s legacy continues to flourish and thanks to his son Peter who has continued to lift his father’s torch.

A brave young man, Peter took over from his father at a very difficult time when his singing stars were so spread apart that few gave him the nod.

There are others who urged him to fight on and several music promoters propelled him to stardom, thanks to Tongai’s early contacts.

At the time of his death, young Peter was riddled with debts and several promoters were said to be owed money by Tongai as he battled high medical bills.

And Peter silently fulfilled his father’s contracts with several music promoters, some who had paid Tongai advance payments and all.

There were people who doubted the survival of Peter and his Utakataka band, including those who played for his father.

Others saw a chance of a lifetime and snatched the bulk of his band members, thinking it was well that was already planned and smooth.

But like a deck of cards those who left Peter for fame elsewhere had not noticed that Tongai’s spirit was still following his son’s progress and the rebels’ careers shattered like broken glasses.

Like his father, Peter has had the media following him everywhere and they have been reporting about his success, shortcomings and failures.

The media does that, they are employed to do that. They can build you and they can bring you down.

Two years since taking over from his father and with only one album to his name, it looks like the media has found Peter as a source for juicer stories.

But as they say - no news is bad news!

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