opinionBy Fred Zindi
Suddenly, it is December again! Indeed time flies. With the blink of an eye, 2012 is already on its back! It is now time to look back and reflect on the year. Last year, the year 2011, saw too many
devastating and unexpected deaths among musicians. It was the year we lost musician and DJ Hilton Mambo, Khumbulani Chaka of "Gakamoto Jumbo Stars", Khumbulani Gibson Magaya from the group Vabati Va Jehovha, Takunda Mafika of True Bantu fame, Clement Chinyama of Cool Nights Band, Adam Chisvo who worked with Chiwoniso Maraire and Victor Kunonga, Cephas Mashakada of the Muddy Face, Tongai "Dhewa" Moyo of Utakataka Express, Andy Brown of The Storm and Prince Tendai Mupfurutsa of The Midnight Magic Band.
I am not sure whether it is through the grace of God or it is due to musicians being able to take care of themselves better, but this year the Almighty has given us a reprieve as fewer musicians passed on compared to last year.
This year in March, we lost a gospel artiste, one Judith Mhere Machona and Doreen Ncube (former Pied Pipers' backing vocalist) who was based in London. We also lost a sungura artiste known as Bibo Yakobe in October and Simon Banda, another sungura artiste, early this month.
There is no reason to rejoice that only four known musicians died this year. Whatever we do, we still need to play it safe as death is one dull and dreary affair. My advice to anybody is to have nothing whatsoever to do with it.
Let me give you my first warning! You might think that now the festive season is upon us, it is now time to act stupid. No it's not!
Yes, people like to be festive, but as you know every December and January, our hospitals are full to the limit with accident victims. Do not become one of them!
Inevitably, this often involves the consumption of copious quantities of alcohol including dangerous ones such as Zed and "Cranco" which in turn leads to impaired judgment and booze-inspired acts of bravado that all too often have tragic results.
That aside, the year 2012 has had its twists and turns. In February, this year, Zimbabwean-born King Isaac, who had been nominated for a Grammy Award for his album "Isaac Meets Isaacs", which was recorded with the late reggae crooner Gregory Isaacs lost the award to Buju Banton, who is currently serving a jail term for doing drugs.
In April, which is one of Zimbabwe's most exciting month every year, a host of international, regional and local musicians performed at the Harare International Festival of the Arts.
The opening show was held on the Telecel Main Stage and showcased Tumbuka Dance Company.
The rest of the week was filled with different genres of music: Opera music from American opera stars, jazz, reggae, sungura, hip-hop, rhumba, Tonga music and finally, Tuku Music.
On Saturday, May 5 four acts performed one after another, starting with Winky D, an icon of dancehall in Zimbabwe, at the Telecel Main Stage, Chiwoniso Maraire at 7 Arts Theatre and Mokoomba on the Coca-Cola Green Stage.
This was followed later by Ismael Lo, the famous harmonica-playing guitarist, also known as the "African Bob Dylan". Hifa closed on Sunday, May 6 with Tuku music featuring the ever- green Oliver Mtukudzi who gave the audience a time of their lives.
Musicians this year were outraged by the non-payment of royalties for airplay by ZBC.
After failing to receive their royalties on June 1, the usual date for payments, angry artistes besieged the Zimbabwe Music Rights Association offices in Harare, accusing the association of not being tough on the public broadcaster. This forced Zimura to take ZBC to court where judgment ordering ZBC to pay was given, but ZBC appealed against this decision. The year has ended without musicians receiving their royalties.
Early this year, the first commercial radio stations, Star FM, owned by Zimpapers, and Zi-FM owned by Supa Mandiwanzira, were launched. They started operations in May and July respectively.
In August, Mokoomba the six-piece band from Victoria Falls toured and wowed audiences in Austria, Russia, Belgium, Finland, Macedonia, Serbia, Germany, Netherlands and Hungary! The band has also been making waves in the country and has proved to be quite impressive. It compares very well with the Bhundu Boys who toured the world between 1987 and 1992.
In August, the fast-rising South African songbird, Bulelwa Mkutukana a.k.a. Zahara, gave her second Zimbabwe concert at the Borrowdale Race course's Fusion Club. (Her first performance was held at the Harare International Conference Centre on March 2).
The next day, she moved to Bulawayo where she gave another concert.
Nigerian group P-Square of "Chop My Money" and "Beautiful Onyinye" fame, gave a lacklustre performance at this year's Lion Lager Summer Beer Festival which was held at Glamis Arena, Harare, on Saturday, October 13.
An end of year gig dubbed "Last Gig" featuring Oliver Mtukudzi, Sulumani Chimbetu, Winky D and Munya Mataruse has been scheduled for the December 21 at the City Sports Centre. People I have spoken to on the streets are wondering why Alick Macheso is not part of this package and I could not find convincing answers for this happening. However, I am told, Macheso has organised his own last gig with "Young Igwe", Peter Moyo and Jah Prayzah at Pamuzinda Highway on the same day that the City Sports Centre gig is taking place.
At the beginning of this month, Oliver Mtukudzi failed to appear at two scheduled concerts on December 1 and 2 as he was said to be suffering from exhaustion.
However, rumours started to spread as his legion of fans, maybe out of spite, told the whole world that Tuku was dead. This upset many people, especially when they realised that Tuku was alive and well and those unverified rumours had been generated by one disappointed fan who had paid to go into a show at Richwood Park which had billed Oliver with Charles and Olivia Charamba.
My second warning is aimed at those who spread false rumours. This is not the first time such a false alarm about Tuku dying has caused unnecessary panic in Zimbabwe. Over time, if repeated, it is going to end up like the story of the boy who cried wolf and may cause people to start ignoring such alarms knowing that they might be false. This is unhealthy as one day people will cry wolf and such cries might be ignored when a real wolf is in the vicinity.
We all thought that 2012 had ended well with very few musicians dying, then rumours of Mtukudzi's death started to spread. Such rumours are always sad news.
However, despite this sad end to the year 2012, we wish everyone a magical festive season. I truly believe that if we keep telling the Christmas story, singing the Christmas songs, and living the Christmas spirit, we can bring joy and happiness and peace to this world.
Finally, may I take this opportunity to thank all the readers of this column for the support you gave me this year through your e-mails. Without you, 2012 would have been extremely boring. One love!