Zimbabwe: Emotional Send Off for Zex Manatsa

24 January 2022

Veteran musician Zex Manatsa was laid to rest at Warren Hills cemetery in Harare yesterday next to another legend, George "Mastermind" Shaya.

About 100 mourners clad mainly in black attended the burial at the legend's section.

The late Manatsa, who succumbed to "multiple myeloma" cancer after suffering from the condition for six months, was awarded a State assisted funeral.

Eulogies from friends, family and musicians at home and burial site described the late musician as a person who was humble, positive to life, a unifier and a helper.

ZANU PF Member of Parliament for Uzumba, Simbaneuta Mudarikwa who was part of the organising team for the late Manatsa's wedding in 1979 said he had very positive attitude towards life.

"I met the late Zex in 1975, and he was already into music. We had a company called Jacks Promotions with my friends and we used to promote his music. We were part of the organising team for his wedding. He was a family man who loved his wife and family. His music was centred on positivity, encouragement, empowerment and development for the nation. He was also a political commissar, he used his music to open the minds against colonialism and how poverty was affecting our lifestyle," he said.

He said in 1979 Manatsa donated his musical equipment to ZANU PF to be used at rallies.

"Besides performing for national events and at rallies in 1979, Zex donated his equipment which included guitars and public address (PA) systems and he used to sing for us. He would tour the country and during those days and it was difficult to hire or find a PA system but he assisted the party to have an effective address. He remained consistent and understood our struggle then he went to the pastoral ship," said Mudarikwa.

National Arts Council of Zimbabwe director, Nicholas Moyo, said the arts sector had lost a legend and thanked the Government for respecting him by awarding the State assisted funeral.

He said January had become a black month for the creative sector.

"It is the same month we lost Dr Oliver Mtukudzi, now Zex. Dr Tuku used to talk about how Zex helped and shaped his career. We are happy that we are able to mention the good works. He impacted a lot of artistes. We are celebrating a man who knew how to mentor others,

"It would be myopic for us not to thank the Government that assisted with our request as artistes and granted him the (State assisted) funeral. That status is important to us. What you don't know about Zex is he advocated for professionalism in the music sector. He is a legend who laid the foundation. He would come to NACZ and help the past directors on what can be done to improve the arts sector," he said.

Manatsa's eldest son, Green, described his father as a strong man.

"I want to thank everyone including all the artistes who came and performed here. I want to thank most, my mother for being there for my dad. We were only there for him and we don't have any problem with our mother. We are grateful for the love and prayers. He was very strong in his faith and spirit and even on the last day he would say I am fine but I am weak. He never admitted that he was not fit, even when you visited he would just be positive about life," he said.

He said his father was a unifier.

"He had no spirit of dividing people or blaming anyone. He would handle the issues amicably and we have learnt a lot from that," he said

Musician Sulumani Chimbetu said: "We have lost a father figure.

"I met Manatsa through my father as I was very young. He was very humble and taught my father, then me, the power of being respectful. His music was deep and with a meaning.

"My wish is to encourage radio stations to continue or start playing his music for the next generation so that the legacy continues and the younger musicians and fans can learn a thing."

He confessed that he had a cassette of the late musician entitled "Chivaraidze" in his car which he has been playing for the past six months.

Music producer MacDonald Chidavaenzi (McDee) who is believed to be the last producer to have worked with the late musician on his last project with his daughter-in-law ,Sharon, added that Manatsa was a rare gem.

"I recorded the single he did with his daughter-in-law, Sharon, called "Simuka Jehovha" before he started feeling unwell. I could see the great talent in him.

"He was one person who could first listen to what you said before you criticise or told him what to do and I was humbled by such a gesture. Imagine some would just say I am a big artist do ABCD, without giving room for other opinions," said McDee.

The burial was attended by yesteryear and current musicians, pastors, celebrities, Government officials and other arts practitioners who includes Tanga WeKwaSando, Minister Micheal Mahendere, Pastor Haisa, Dereck Mpofu, Albert Nyathi, Fred Zindi, Sulu and Clive Mono Mukundu, among others.

The Manatsa's boys performed their fathers's songs before his daughter-in-law Selmor Mtukudzi performed her father's song "Hear Me Lord" with her sisters, joined by Aaron Manatsa. This was an emotional send off, befitting Manasta's stature.

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