Namibian artiste hails Chibadura, Mapfumo

HARARE - Namibian artiste Jackson Wahengo says the late John Chibadura and Chimurenga legend Thomas Mapfumo played a part in shaping his music style.

The Switzerland-based Wahengo, who was one of the star performers at the just-ended Harare International Festival of Arts (Hifa), told that the Daily News before he flew back to Switzerland that he was exposed to Zimbabwean music while living in a Swapo refugee camp in Angola.

“My father who was a Swapo combatant and other fellow freedom fighters listened to a lot of Zimbabwean music particularly sungura and because of that I listened to this exciting music early on,” said Wahengo.

“The Swapo freedom fighters walked around the camp with radios close to their ears listening to music from such musicians as John Chibadura, Jonah Moyo and Devera Ngwena, Khiama Boys and others. In the end I fell in love with sungura music because I was continually listening to it.”

Though Wahengo heaped praise to most of the early crop of sungura musicians, he singled out the late Chibadura as an exceptional artiste.

“Most of the sungura musicians were a joy to listen to but John Chibadura was a cut above the rest. He was an exceptional guitar player. It is a pity such a gifted musician is no more. I greatly his music,” he told the Daily News.

The Geneva-based Wahengo, who is regarded as Namibia’s most celebrated guitarist and song writer, said he got to listen to Mapfumo’s music much later while studying music at a university in Cape Town, South Africa.

“As young boy sungura was the music for me but as I became more mature musically I warmed up to Mapfumo’s music with all its sophisticated arrangements. Thomas Mapfumo is a great musician,” Wahengo said.

Being the sungura enthusiast he is, Wahengo said he was disappointed by the absence of sungura gigs at the just-ended Hifa.

“I was really disappointed because this is the home of sungura music so I expected to watch a few sungura musicians in action here. Due to my tight Hifa programme sadly I could not get the chance to attend some Sungura gigs at some clubs in Harare,” he said.

Cyril Moulas, who plays rhythm guitar for Wahengo, also lamented Hifa’s decision not feature sungura musicians in this year’s edition.

“I visited Zimbabwe as part of an Ethiopian orchestra six years ago and we performed at the Book Café. I was greatly impressed by the Zimbabwean guitar and I bought music by late musicians like Tongai Moyo, Andy Brown, Leonard Dembo and the Four Brothers,” said Wahengo.

“It is a pity there was no sungura gigs at Hifa this year because I was really looking forward to them.”

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