14 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Munya Mataruse Poised for Stardom

"The Last Gig" held at the City Sports Centre on December 21 brought together some of the heavyweights of Zimbabwean music in the form of senior superstar Oliver Mtukudzi, dendera exponent Sulumani Chimbetu and Ninja President Winky D among others.

Among this stellar cast was a relative lightweight by the name Munya Mataruse.

The question uppermost on many revellers' minds was how this young man had managed to "gatecrash" into the big boys' party.

But the 24-year-old Masvingo-born Munya had a ready answer for the doubting Thomases with a sterling performance at the Book Café last week.

For those not in the know, Munya Mataruse is a product of Mtukudzi's Pakare Paye Arts Centre and Tuku's influence is evident in the way the young man dresses, dances, plays the guitar and generally conducts himself on stage.

As if that is not enough, his lanky stature reminds many of his mentor. So watching Munya play is like watching a young Tuku.

But the similarities end there. Whereas 'Samanyanga" specialises in the "katekwe" dance, Munya is a protagonist of the "shangara" and "machomani" dances.

For three hours, Munya serenaded revellers with a diverse discography that included tracks from his debut album, "Dengu Remhodzi" such as "Mai Mucha", "Ndoenda", "Kwaita Mhere", "Dzuke", "Hondo", "Handangashupika", "Marunjeya", "Matope", "Kukurerera" and "Chinyavada".

Midway through his set, Munya assumed the role of a disc jockey on "Radio Book Café" as he belted out a catalogue of yesteryear hits, "Dzakaita Mukurumbira".

The hits included the late James Chimombe's "Kure Kure", John Chibadura's "Mudiwa Janet", Paul Matavire's "Kisimisi Isifikile", Leonard Dembo's "Musha Rudzii", Simon Chimbetu's "Shinga Mwana Wedangwe", Thomas Mapfumo's "Mugarandega" to mention a few.

Munya was joined briefly by another Tuku protégé, Josh Meck, who gave the audience a taste of his exquisite bass guitar playing skills.

It's true when they say dynamite comes in small packages. Josh is a dynamite and he literally sent sparks flying with an explosive performance that earned him wild applause.

Of course, the show would not have been complete without a tribute to Munya's mentor, Mtukudzi, and he did this with a flawless rendition of "Mutserendende" and "Handiro Dambudziko".

He closed off his set with an instrumental version of the late Cephas Mashakada's "Basa Ndasiya Ndapedza", the equivalent of Tuku's traditional farewell song "Ndima Ndapedza".

Pity only a handful of revellers turned up for this show (perhaps a symptom of the January disease). Munya's performance certainly deserved a bigger audience.

December's "Last Gig" no doubt marked the end of Mataruse's "apprenticeship" under Tuku's tutelage.

He is now a journeyman ready to take on the world on his own.

My verdict on his show at Book Café is that Munya, or "Wezhira" as he likes to refer himself, is good. And like a good wine he is destined to get better with age.

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