Sulu at 33: Time to reflect

HARARE - As Suluman Chimbetu celebrates his 33rd birthday bash tonight at the Private Lounge in Harare, it is also important to highlight some of the young musician’s successes as both a musician and businessman.

Dubbed “Sulu and friends”, the dendera musician’s celebrations will include fellow musicians Alick Macheso and Jah Prayzah.

Born on May 27, 1982, Suluman who is heir to Simon ‘Chopper’ Chimbetu (who passed on August 14, 2005, following injuries sustained in a car accident) only took two years after the death of his father to record his debut album, Ndomusiya Nani.

To date he has released five albums and continues his family’s legendary music dynasty which began with The Marxist Brothers, a band formed by his late father and his brother Naison, who is also late.

Suluman says has kept his father’s advice on the need for originality. And he believes ever since he started his own music career, he has always tried his best to be his own man.

And to show his appreciation of his father’s contribution to his success, each year Suluman holds musical events in Harare and Chinhoyi to commemorate “Chopper”. With thousands of his father’s fans attending the events, Suluman says “these events show me that he (Simon) was a hero indeed and my wish is to carry on with his legacy.”

The commemorations have also managed to bring the Chimbetu family together with Allan, Douglas and Tryson performing while musicians that include Alick Macheso, Jah Prayzah, Dembo brothers  and  Peter Moyo always join in the celebrations.

It is interesting to note that while Suluman has benefited from the musical legacy he inherited from his father, he has managed to carve out his own niche. His album Reverse Deal won the National Arts Merit Awards (Nama) Outstanding Album of the Year in 2009. Suluman’s 2012 album Syllabus did so well on the local charts and went on to fetch three gongs at Nama in 2013 while in 2014 he was the winner of the Outstanding Male Musician Nama gong.

Suluman’s illustrious work has earned several endorsements. He is the brand ambassador for Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services, Corporate 24 and National Business Council of Zimbabwe (NBCZ) among others making him one of the most decorated musicians in the country. Together with NBCZ, he helped Tokwe-Mukorsi flood victims through the “Suluman Chimbetu Charity Trust” that gave books and other school materials to the flood victims.

With the Orchestra Dendera Kings, Suluman has been making waves in Zimbabwe and beyond, touring South Africa, the United Kingdom and the Seychelles where he reportedly commands a huge following.

Suluman’s music is also widely popular in the region having been well received in Malawi, Botswana and Mozambique.

The dendera music star has recorded numerous duets with local musicians, among them Oliver Mtukudzi, Somandla Ndebele, Soul Jah Love and Zoey Sifelani.

There have been reports of discontent in Suluman’s band of late and I hope he will work hard to keep his band intact and should not be swayed by the popularity he is receiving at the moment because he has to know that the good music he is producing now is a result of team effort.

The band members left behind by his father form his biggest treasure.

Suluman has to continue working hard, and this means rehearsing and producing new songs that are original and imaginative. The musician has to learn to invest  and invest more.

While it must be admired that Suluman has introduced his wife to all Zimbabweans as this seems to have kept away the ladies, I still urge him to be strong because the industry he is operating in has a lot of temptations.

He has to remain clean, something that will see more ambassadorial attachments coming his way.

Having worked with Suluman for years in my capacity as a music promoter, I wish him all the best.

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