29 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Down Memory Lane . . . Sekuru Gweshe Falls On Hard Times, Hankers for a Career in Politics

On Independence Eve, a young man sporting an afro hairstyle was in the midst of the crowd that gathered at Rufaro Stadium, although he was swept by the euphoria that engulfed everyone on the eve, he had a job to do.

Veteran nationalists - the late Edgar Zvobgo and Ernest Kadungure - had picked him to play the drums as the Union Jack was being pulled down until the Zimbabwean flag was hoisted high.

The young man, David Tafaneyi Gweshe popularly known as Sekuru Gweshe, said the event shaped his life and now he wants to rekindle his romance with politics that he put on hold for 32 years.

"I put my love for politics on hold so that I could concentrate more on my calling as an artiste.

Zimbabwe was just coming from independence and I had to be a cultural ambassador for the new nation. I had to go on solidarity tours playing mbira, thanking the Frontline States for supporting Zimbabwe during the liberation struggle, I would be accompanied by the likes of Cde Nathan Shamuyarira," Sekuru Gweshe said.

The celebrated mbira player said he toured Europe along with Ephat Mujuru, Stella Chiweshe and Sekuru Gora to introduce Zimbabwean culture to these states under the banner of European Cultural expedition.

Sekuru Gweshe said he had the opportunity to introduce traditional dance into schools.

"I would go around schools introducing traditional dance on the school's curriculum and all this took my time," he said.

The mbira maestro said now that he feels his services were no longer needed, he wants to venture into his childhood dream - politics.

"I am already in the structures of Zanu-PF, I am a secretary for legal affairs for Vimbi District in Chiweshe," he said.

He said he would want to see himself rise through the ranks in the political party.

"I think my services are no longer needed, I am being snubbed to perform on music galas and I think it's high time I move to other things," he said.

Interestingly, in an interview with the Saturday Lifestyle at Mupedzanhamo in Mbare, it was evident that Sekuru Gweshe has fallen on hard times.

He was wearing a worn-out suit with a pair of slippers.

The artiste has nothing to show for his musical exploits that saw him touring around the world.

"I used to run commuter omnibuses before I went broke. my second wife operates the Mupedzanhamo stall but we don't have a licence. I now survive on being hired to perform at functions but the money is not enough. My house is too small, the family has grown," said the once mighty Sekuru Gweshe.

For a man who used to enjoy rich pickings on his international tours, he could not, however, explain how his fortunes vanished.

Commenting on his much publicised altercation with is son, Solomon, for allegedly taking his sons' wives, Sekuru Gweshe said they have resolved the issue.

"That was a family affair, there are misunderstandings and we are now on talking terms. It was the past but it's all sorted out now," said Gweshe.

The mbira king was born in Chiweshe, Mashonaland Central, 68 years ago.

He went to Gweshe Primary School and then Kutama College for Standard 6. At 14, he developed an interest in mbira as both an instrument and music. He then would spend time at ritual ceremonies where mbira was played. When he completed Standard 6, he worked in Harare as an upholsterer from 1958 to 1979.

It was during his time in Harare that he met Felix Mabhena, who helped him record his debut single titled "Mhuri YekwaGweshe" in the late 1970s.

Because of the single's huge success, Sekuru Gweshe went on to release a second single titled "Zevezeve Rina Vatete", done with the help of the late Jordan Chataika. His other singles were "Nehoreka" and "Bhurugwa Renzungu".

In 1977, Sekuru Gweshe founded the dance troupe Boterekwa that toured the world. His group was one of the very few that took traditional music to Germany, Australia, Mexico, Denmark, Netherlands, Switzerland, Malaysia and UK.

He has trained seven generations of dancers since 1977 and was involved with the National Dance Company of Zimbabwe together with the late Ephat Mujuru which nurtured Ambuya Stella Chiweshe among several others.

As part of the group, Sekuru Gweshe was instrumental in the scripting of the film Mbuya Nehanda that featured Ambuya Chiweshe.

He was also commissioned by the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture Dzingai Mtumbuka to teach mbira in some tertiary institutions. His last release was "Changamire Nyamweda" in 2000.

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