October 11, 2022

11 years later, Tongai Moyo sings on

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. . . Peter lines up late father’s commemoration


Rest Mutore

SATURDAY October 15 marks 11 years since the death of sungura music great Tongai Moyo.

He was known with several monikers among them Dewa, Murozvi Mukuru, Igwe, Mopao Mokonzi and Father Flower.

And as he lies buried in Sesombe, Zhombe, we have to give it to ‘Dewa’ for his contribution to the sungura music genre.

Dewa succumbed to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma on October 15, 2011 at Harare’s St Anne’s Hospital at the age of 43.

This is a type of cancer that begins in the lymphatic system.

Ever since Tongai’s death, sungura music has not been the same.

A cross section of sungura music lovers and critics believe he was buried with the genre, leaving his perceived rival Alick Macheso alone.

His rivalry with Macheso definitely made the genre tick, and with his absence, the competition element died.

The duo’s rivalry saw them firing salvos through verses.

The most popular one include Macheso’s “usavhunditsirwe nezizi kuti rine nyanga, hadzisi nyanga inzeve” after Dewa had released the album Pinda Panyanga.

Dewa replied with the verse “ini ndinoziva wani kuti zizi harina nyanga asi kuti rakamhara pamusoro penyanga.”

But, true to that old adage, ‘good men must die, but death cannot kill their works.’

Peter – heir to Tongai’s throne – is set to throw three big events to commemorate the life of this sungura giant.

To spice up the commemorations, Peter has roped in his younger brother Tongai Jnr who is also into music, fronting another Utakataka Express.

Peter and his Utakataka Express ensemble, which comprises members who worked with the late Tongai, Spencer Khumulani, Evidence ‘Baba Gari’ Tarabuku, Gift ‘Shiga Shiga’ Katulika, Saviours Karukodzi and Tendai ‘Yamathele’ Chipatarongo are expected to perform in Mutare (Friday), Marondera (Saturday) and Harare (Sunday).

The Young Igwe has also roped in his late father’s friends – Somandla Ndebele, First Farai and Suluman Chimbetu.

The first leg is set for The Platinum in Mutare on Friday and will see Peter sharing the stage with Sulu, Baba Harare and Andy Muridzo.

On Saturday, Peter shares the stage with Leonard Zhakata and Samukoko at Pagomo in Marondera.

He holds a Family show at Jongwe Corner in Harare on Sunday – where he shares the stage with Soma, First Farai, Sulu and Tongai Jnr.

“We have been holding these events for years now but we had stopped because of the Covid-19 pandemic. So we have decided to do it in a bigger way this time around.

“I have engaged fellow musicians and those I believe had a good relationship with the man himself.

“So apart from these shows, we are going to have many shows the whole month of October remembering him,” said Peter.

But, as the nation remembers the legend that helped define sungura music in Zimbabwe, it should be noted that each passing year marks a milestone for Peter.

This year also marks 11 years at the helm of Utakataka Express for the Young Igwe.

And over the years, he has been battling to keep the ship afloat, with others in showbiz corridors arguing that he has not done justice to his father’s legacy.

Peter reiterates that Tongai’s shoes will remain big for him though he believes he has done enough to keep afloat the late legend’s legacy.

However, he should be credited for keeping the ‘vakomana vemicheno’ tag soaring.

The band remains one of the best dressed outfits in local showbiz.

“I have spoken about that before and my point remains the same. We are trying our best to keep the ship afloat but not that we are trying to match his work. That is impossible, he was in his own league and I think it’s wrong to compare me with my late father.

“He was a giant, someone who came with a style that helped change the perception of sungura music,” he said.

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