Zimbabwe: Major Boost for Smoko Music

The death of the father of Smoko music, Fanuel "System" Tazvida, in 1999 followed by the death of the heir apparent to the throne, Peter Tazvida, three years later, could have marked the demise of Smoko music.

Numerous efforts to revive the genre, an offshoot of sungura music, by the Tazvida family and other interested parties have hit a brick wall due to family squabbles over inheritance compounded by fissures within the group that backed System and Isaac, Chazezesa Challengers.

Band members went separate ways after the death of Peter, who had successfully fitted in his brother's shoes to lead a star-studded outfit like Chazezesa Challengers that had the likes of guitarists Lucky Mumiriki and Leeroy "Kamusena" Lunga and backing vocalist Isaac, younger brother of System and Peter.

That left Isaac fighting a lone battle in his attempt to keep the legacy of his brothers alive and according to him all his efforts have come to nought due to a number of challenges, chief being lack of money.

"Over the years, I have tried to revive Smoko music, but to no avail. We have tried to assemble an equally-talented group, but we have been hamstrung by lack of money," Isaac, a holder of a diploma in agricultural engineering told Standard Style last week.

Isaac, who is credited to be the voice behind most of Chazezesa Challengers' hit songs, in 2016 joined forces with Mumiriki and Kamusena to revive Smoko music with a project titled Smoko Revival Zvachose, but the "fire" to produce the smoke was not there.

Mumiriki, who had left Chazezesa Challengers to join Alick Macheso, did not have that energy that he put on display when he played the guitar on songs such as Anodyiwa Haataure and Mushandi Ndimambo due to ill health.

As for Kamusena, he had lost that Smoko touch, which marked the demise of the project which had lasted for four months. Kamusena left for his "home country" Mozambique while Mumiriki concentrated on nurturing youngsters in his hood of Chitungwiza.

"I just believe that Smoko music is still popular and what is wanted is financial injection into the project. One of the challenges that we have been facing apart from funding is the band ownership wrangle involving myself and cousin King. We want to assure Smoko music fans that we have buried the hatchet and we are now working together as we try to keep System's legacy alive," Isaac said.

Isaac said there was disharmony among group members as a result of the power struggles within Chazezesa Challengers, but he believes their reunion would reignite that Smoko sparkle.

"It was not working at all. I am happy we have found each other and we are now sailing in the same boat. We are expecting to release three albums this year because we have been sitting on close to 25 or so unrecorded songs," he said.

Dreadlocked King Tazvida, who tried to keep the Chazezesa Challengers flame burning in the absence of his uncle Isaac who had relocated to South Africa, said he was happy that they were now working together for the good of Smoko music followers.

"It never worked out and our dispute did not take us anywhere. We are working 24/7 to revive the music, doing rehearsals and shows together. We are enjoying it and our fans should expect good music from us," King said.

To show their seriousness, Chazezesa Challengers have enlisted the services of a young and energetic manager Edmore Muchechetere, who believes that Isaac and King's recombination has started yielding fruits.

"We sat down and solved our problems amicably. We are now one Chazezesa Challengers and everyone is raring to go. Smoko music is here to stay and I assure our fans that we have a lot in store for them, from live shows, new albums to videos," Muchechetere said.

"We have found a sponsor and we will be in the studio soon. As for live shows, we are going around farms, growth points and mines where we are getting an overwhelming response."

Chazezesa Challengers got a lifeline from local medical doctor Johannes Marisa, who urged Isaac and King to bury the hatchet and revive Smoko music.

"System was a great musician, so was his successor, Peter. We cannot allow their music to die when there are people in the family who can keep their legacy alive. As such, I have committed to support a united Chazezesa Challengers and I will fund their rehearsals and studio time," Marisa, who is also a benefactor of sungura musician Tendai Dembo, said.

System's wife Barbra Mabuyane-Tazvida said she was happy that Isaac and King had found common ground.

"I wish the band good luck and I am happy that they are now working together after a long protracted battle over ownership," she said.

System Tazvida died at the age of 31. He had released four albums with his second project Mutunhu une Mago selling 30 000 copies, while his debut Rudo, Tsika Nemagariro sold 20 000 copies. His popular tracks include Mushandi ndiMambo, Anodyiwa Haataure and Dai Hanzvadzi Yairoorwa, among others.

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