'System has failed musicians'

HARARE - Legislator James Maridadi has bemoaned Zimbabwe’s system which he says has failed to uplift the lives of local musicians who remain poor.

Speaking at the burial of sungura star Daiton Somanje in Marondera on Friday last week, Maridadi, a former Radio 3 presenter said music was an important aspect of our day-to-day lives.

“Imagine if we were to stop everyone from playing music for a day, say from 8am to 8pm, how would that day be like? I am sure that everyone would realise how important music is to our lives.

“When musicians are performing in bars, beerhalls and at stadiums, you would not know how much power they wield socially.”

Maridadi says he is saddened with the death of Daiton, coming as it did and blames local policies for failing musicians.

“If it had been in South Africa, musicians like Albert Nyathi, Bob Nyabinde here, the likes of young musicians such as Suluman should be flying in helicopters.

“There is need for a concerted effort by authorities to control music piracy as those who have not sweated for the music products are benefitting while musicians get nothing.”

Maridadi first met Daiton when he was still with Radio 3. “He was full of energy and we became close because he has the same Muslim cultural background as mine.”

Daiton was a Muslim, a development that saw the entire burial process conducted according to the custom.

Unlike other local traditional funerals in Zimbabwe where women would be singing as the body is laid to rest, there was none of that as the Muslim culture excludes women at the burial site. Men, they seem too proud to sing!

A Muslim elder, speaking in closing remarks complained bitterly that Daiton’s fellow musicians had been hesitant to partake in the actual burial of their friend.

“None came forward to shovel the gravel and help fill the grave. That is why we do not allow women here because they are of no help.”

An undertaker from Doves said he conducted the entire funeral in a Muslim way because that is what Daiton wanted and believed in.

“We are trained to bury Muslims as per their culture and we carry all their processes. We sat together with Muslim elders to come up with their burial manual.”

He thanked the Zimbabwe Music Rights Association, (Zimura) for the cover it affords all its composers. “Daiton’s funeral is covered by Zimura and this is encouraging as it covers its members.”

Musicians who include Charles Charamba, Leonard Zhakata, Kapfupi, Alick Macheso, Somandla Ndebele, Albert Nyati, Obvious Mutano, Bob Nyabinde, Romeo Gasa, Hosiah Chipanga, Suluman Chimbetu, Raymond Majongwe, Daiton’s young brother Josphat and music promoter Biggie Chinoperekwei attended the burial.

The musicians present collectively donated $1 500 to help with funeral expenses.

Charamba, Macheso, Chimbetu and Ndebele all spoke at the graveside describing Daiton as a jovial musician who pushed for musicians’ rights.

“He was straight forward and when he wanted something done at record companies, he pressed on, but this helped change a lot of things for all of us as musicians,” said Ndebele.

Charamba said he remembers Daiton teasing him saying that while he (Charamba) was a good vocalist, “he outshone me when it came to dancing.”

Speaking on the sidelines of the burial, Tich Makahamadze said he worked with Daiton for 15 years while he recorded with Record and Tape Productions, RTP.

“He was a gifted music composer and I found him to be hard working. At RTP I was his repertoire manager, hence we closely worked together in promoting his products.”

Makahamadze says it was unfortunate that after releasing the hit songs recording as Pengaudzoke, Daiton and Josphat decided to split. “That saw a dive in Daiton’s popularity and his fortunes began to dwindle. The two tried frantically to come back together with the release of Pengaudzoke Zvachose, but then RTP temporarily closed.”

Emmanuel Vori, a director at RTP said they have the entire Pengaudzoke music catalogue and they are selling his products although they have taken a dip of late.

“He used to sell quite a lot in the past years but now his sales are not impressive.

“The split did not do them a favour because then you also risk splitting the fans and the talent you hold splits again because one would be good at the guitar and the other on the singing.

“There is a chemistry that is lost once you split and this affected both Daition and Josphat, hence little activity in terms of business for their products.”

Vori added that while Zimura covers its composers, it is the medical aid insurance that the musicians should work on.


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