25 March 2003

Zimbabwe: Struggling Katarina Yearns for the Good Old Days

Harare — THE story of Elizabeth Taderera, better known in music circles as Katarina, is the story of a plunge from fame to obscurity.

Once one of the most popular female musicians in the country and widely regarded as the best female dancer during her stint with legendary comedian and singer, Safirio Madzikatire (aka Mukadota) and the Sea Cottage Sisters, Katarina has been relegated from the glamour of success on the music scene to the daily grind of being a waitress.

Starting her new career at a place called Mai Jojo in Harare's Kopje area before moving, in a short space of time, to Blue Venus in the same area and later Sandy's, a popular place with those who love their sadza with bones, Katarina's new tool of the trade is a tray.

Although she claims to be content with her new job, Katarina is very sad that she no longer has anything to do with music.

Unlike the old days when request for interviews were greeted with a quick "yes", Standard Plus spent quite some time trying to get the former star to talk about her new job and aspirations. Eventually, the former glamour girl of Zimbabwean music, now much slimmer and lacking her former zeal, spoke about her new life.

"I like my new job. People are happy to see me. They always call me sisi (sister), and it reminds me of the good old days when I was still with Mudhara Safirio Madzikatire and The Sea Cottage Sisters," said Katarina.

"It pains me that I am no longer a musician. When I think of those days with Mukadota, I ask myself: 'Will they come back again?' I hope one day someone will pluck me from obscurity, be my manager and help me to record." Regrettably Katarina, who teamed up with Madzikatire to come up with such hit singles as Dickson in 1981, Katarina in 1982, Tiller in 1985, the album Ndatenga Mota in 1985 and KwaHunyani in 1986, no longer has even a single copy of the recordings.

"I don't know where they are now. People came, borrowed them and never returned them," she said regretfully.

However the dream of recording again remains strong for Katarina. She told Standard Plus she has written a number of songs and a drama book which is yet to be published.

Since the death of Mukadota, Katarina recorded the album Tapera with Cde Chinx in 1994, which featured the heat song Roger Confirm. She also recorded Eriza with the late Tennyson Kajanda in 1995, but these failed to reach anywhere near the success of her recordings with Mukadota.

"Since Mukadota passed away, things have not been the same. I have written some songs but no-one is prepared to help me record. What pains me most is the fact that people always ask me when I will come back into music.

"What I want to tell them is that hazvina kupera (I'm not finished).

If I get sponsorship and a manager who can lead and assist me, I can succeed. I can do what I used to do in the past," said Katarina.

She added: "During our days with Mukadota, things were easy and cheap. Now everything is so expensive. Instruments have gone up and musicians cannot have as many tours as they would like because of the costs involved." Katarina, who displayed her trademark infectious smile throughout the interview, cherishes her get togethers with other former members of the Sea Cottage Sisters, Machipisa and Winnie Nyikayaramba, with whom she shares experiences of the past.

"It's really good when we meet. It is unfortunate that most of the men we worked with have passed away. Those were really good days.

"Unfortunately, today's music scene is not the same. Many musicians are suffering because of the harsh economic climate and they desperately need assistance. Before, we could do anything we wanted to and succeed," she said.

Born on 12 December 1966, Katarina joined Safirio Madzikatire and the Sea Cottage Sisters, straight from school in 1981. With her electrifying dance and vocal skills which she displayed alongside Madzikatire, she rose to become one of the most popular musicians on the domestic scene. But with the death of Madzikatire in 1996 she gradually faded from the music scene as her own efforts failed to live up to expectations.

She currently resides in Tynwald.

Katarina has a 22-year old daughter, Precious. According to Katarina, her former husband of 14 years, John Mahando, has discouraged her daughter from taking up music and so she is doing a course in computers.

"I wish God would turn back the hands of the clock for me. I still love music. I need those good old days," Katarina said wistfully.

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