18 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Zhakata's Gig Evokes Special Memories

Photo: The Herald
Leonard Zhakata

Leonard "Karikoga" Zhakata has often been written off as a spent force. But those who chose to be at the Book Café on Thursday night ahead of the other Valentine's Day gigs around town certainly did not regret it as the Zora King treated them to a stellar performance.

Dressed in red, black and white Zhakata and his Zimbabwe All Stars Band took revellers down memory lane with a string of his golden hits from "Batai Mazwi, "Gomba Remarara", "Ruvheneko", "Nzombe Huru", "Pane Ziya Pane Dovi", "Yeukai" to "Pakuyambuka". Zhakata chose his playlist carefully, blending his social commentary with love songs whose themes ranged from faithfulness, forgiveness and togetherness.

The singer, who turned 45 on Monday, and his dancers gave the crowd a glimpse of the rhumba-inspired dances that catapulted him to popularity in the 1990s.

The tracks "Simudza Mureza" and "Dambura Mbabvu" were the crowd favourites. "Simudza Mureza (Raise the Flag)" is a song in which Zhakata encourages people to work hard in order to achieve their goals.

Arguably one of the best composers in the country, Zhakata sings that God has good plans for everyone and He will intervene. In "Dambura Mbabvu" the eloquent lyricist says there are some people who have brilliant ideas that could benefit the lives of many, but it is unfortunate that there is nobody to listen to those ideas.

For some reason, Zhakata turned down repeated calls for "Mugove", the 1994 hit from his top-selling album "Maruva Enyika". Earlier in the day, the "Vagoni Vebasa" hitmaker was one of the guests at the International Book Giving Day held at the same venue.

During the ceremony, the Book Café, Alliance Francaise and Zhakata donated books to the Zimbabwe Rural Schools Trust for distribution to rural school libraries.

Zhakata had the audience in stitches when he told some school heads present: "You can take away every other book here, but please leave Facebook behind."

He was obviously referring to allegations in some quarters that social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp were contributing to the high failure rate at O-Level.

Zhakata rose to fame as a member of the Maungwe Brothers, which featured himself and the late Thomas Makion.

They split with Zhakata going on to release hits like "Hupenyu Mutoro", "Batai Mazwi" and "Gomba Remarara".

Willom Tight's son Gary, who is gradually stepping out of his father's shadow, was the supporting act. After wishing everybody a happy Valentine's Day the young musician serenaded revellers with his own compositions such as "Ndazonyora", "Tenda Mwari", "Usanyunyute", "Tinotenda" and "Pachiso", which refers to Facebook love.

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