28 April 2019

Zimbabwe: Macheso - the Father of the Fatherless

He might be famous, but that does not take away his kindness and generosity towards the less fortunate. In a successful music career that spans two decades, top sungura musician Alick Macheso has always been known for his kindness and working for the needy.

At 50, he has shown his big heart through adopting children of departed musicians and most of them have successfully revived their late fathers' music while others can now afford to put food on the table.

Macheso, also known as Extrabasso, has indirectly turned his music stable, Alema Studios, into a charity home with some young musicians recording for free. The studio hardly makes any profit as his kindness has outrun the love of money.

It is this character and conduct that has earned him a humanitarian ambassadorial role from the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society. Since attaining the role as an ambassador, the Mundigumbuke hitmaker has executed his job well, visiting victims in areas hit by disasters with his recent trip being to Chimanimani and Chipinge where he performed for Cyclone Idai victims.

The angel of death has been merciless in the music sector claiming lives of some of the country's finest entertainers. But, the music gods have appointed a representative on local soil in the name of Macheso, who has done everything to groom music successors. He has become the father of the fatherless and a guardian to many in the sector.

Could it be about his upbringing as a child who grew up without a father that has shaped his personality?

Below are some of the music legends' children who have passed through Macheso's hands and are now doing well in the music industry.

Tedious Muchapedza Matsito (Jnr): The boy is Macheso's latest adopted musician who had been under his wings for close to a year before his father died last month.

The 17-year-old musician is a son of the late Ngwenya Brothers frontman Tedious Matsito of the Nyaradzo fame. After discovering that his father was no longer fit enough for the stage following a stroke, which left him with impaired speech, Macheso took in his son Tedious (Junior), who for grooming.

The boy is now a curtain raiser for Macheso at all his shows where he is faring well and endearing himself with the entertainment republic.

Tedious (Junior) is also currently recording his debut album at Alema Studios free of charge. The boy has since taken over the reins at Ngwenya Brothers and has already completed recording a six-track album titled Mandipa Mukana.

Faheem Somanje: Following the death of his father and Pengaudzoke founder Daiton, Macheso "adopted" Faheem and toured the country with him as a way of introducing him to sungura fans. The set-up was for Pengaudzoke to curtain-raise for Macheso at bigger stages.

Faheem was then offered an opportunity to record at Alema, where Macheso played some of the instruments, including on the song Nhaka. Faheem has been doing solo gigs across the country and has become the breadwinner for the big family left behind by his father.

After being adopted by Macheso some years ago, Faheem had this to say: "The music industry is very tricky and difficult especially when you are left with a task to lead a big band like Pengaudzoke. I would want to thank Macheso, he is like a father to me, and he has done a lot for Pengaudzoke.

"We are moving around the country together as a curtain-raiser and I will capitalise on this. We are currently practising before we get into the studio to record after he gave us a free contract to do our album at Alema Studios."

Tendai Dembo: The son of the late sungura ace Leonard Dembo is now a man on his own after passing through Macheso's hands. Tendai was left with a big brand in the name of Barura Express and has since released three albums as the new heir.

The revival of Barura Express is credited to Macheso, who summoned Dembo's son to return from South Africa where he was working. It is reported that Macheso sent his personal lawyer across the Limpopo to convince Morgan to come back home.

Upon his return, Macheso took Morgan and Tendai for rehearsals.

The Dembo Brothers, however, started using Orchestra Mberikwazvo as Barura before Macheso recruited instruments players for them.

Barura Express became curtain-raisers for the Mberikwazvo frontman on his national tours, which led the group to gain popularity in each and every show. Morgan, however, took the back seat for unclear reasons leaving Tendai at the helm of Barura Express.

Recently, Tendai released his latest six-track album Dzinde, which he dedicated to his late father, also known as Musorowenyoka.

Tryson Chimbetu: The son of the late Marxist Brothers leader and Dendera music pioneer Naison Chimbetu has been described as the only musician playing the real

Dendera genre in a family that comprises of great singers like Allan, Sulumani and Douglas. However, credit is also given to Baba Sharo, as Macheso is affectionately known, who taught him the ropes.

Due to a family feud, Tryson could not join Sulumani's band, but was fortunate to meet Macheso who mentored him before doing a collabo Nguva YaChimbetu.

These are some of the many artistes who have passed through Macheso's hands. He even nurtured his arch-rival Tongai Moyo's son, Peter, who today is one of the best sungura musicians in the country. As a gender-sensitive artiste, Macheso has also worked with the late Beater Mangethe and they did some songs together.

Currently, he is working with promising sungura artiste Simon Mutambi. The talented bassist has performed alongside raunchy dancer Beverly Sibanda and Lady Storm.

At some point he moved around with controversial singer Jacob Moyana of Munotidako fame. While other established musicians are more known for the wrong reasons, Macheso has defied the odds through becoming a mentor to young artistes and being the father of the fatherless.

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