SOUTH Africa based sungura artiste Ronnie Mudhindo says he met Tongai Moyo during music trials in Kwekwe.
The Utakataka founder member who went solo in 2004 said there was never bad blood between him and his former employer.
Sadly, Tongai died on October 15 2011 aged 43.
And almost a decade after Tongai’s departure, Mudhindo feels he owes fans an explanation on their alleged feud.
The 44-year-old claims he was never given the platform to give his side of the story after leaving Utakataka Express.
In this issue, he explained how he met and separated with Muchina Muhombe.
“I started working with Tongai Moyo in 1993 when we met at Shirinhema Jazz Band which had a contract at Musopero Country Hotel in Mbizo, Kwekwe.
“At Shirinhema there was a guy called Welly Masikiri who taught me to play the guitar and he also played the bass guitar.
“It was during the same time when Tongai was being taught to play guitars by a gentleman who used to play the rhythm and lead guitars who was called Mike Yokoniya
“In fact, Mike was the one who used to move around with Tongai but then I was young and I was not allowed to enter beerhalls,” says Mudhindo.
The towering guitarist said patience paid for him to get exposure since he started at a young age.
“I was once smuggled in the beer hall by Welly Masikiri of Shiri Nhema Jazz Band where I was tried after he noted that I had mastered the electric guitar.
“It so happened that I also met Tongai who I was supposed to join and play as curtain raisers.
“We became friends from them to the time we formed Utakataka Express,” recalls Mudhindo.
The Orchestra Vazvamburi said his musical almost crumbled when Shiri Nhema Jazz Band where he was learning the ropes collapsed.
“It came as a shock to us when Shepherd Musekiwa left to form Shiri Chena Express.
“I and Tongai followed Musekiwa since he was well known by that time.
“At Shiri Chena Jazz Band, Shepherd Musekiwa did both the lead vocals and plays lead guitar while Tongai was on rhythm (guitar) and I played the bass guitar.
“Determined to move on, we left Shiri Chena to form our own group,” says Mudhindo.
After that split from Shiri Chena Jazz Band, Tongai founded a new group, Utakataka Express.
“Utakataka Express was founded by myself, Musaope Nkoma as a drummer with Tongai Moyo as a lead and rhythm guitarst while I played the bass guitar.
“We did a demo tape where Tongai played both the rhythm and the lead which we sent to Gramma Records and we passed the test.
“After the demo tape was certified good, we were invited to come for live auditions so that they could find out if we were the owners of the demo tape.
“We then roped in Gift Chiteve to play the rhythm guitar since it was impossible for Tongai Moyo to play two roles at a time.
“But the person who was supposed to play the rhythm was Knowledge Nkoma who disappeared on the eleventh hour.
“The same Knowledge Nkoma who worked with Chopper and now Sulu was supposed to be part of Utakataka Express but he vanished into thin air when we had invited him.
“Akatirasisa last minute akasabatika but we had poached him from ChaChaCha Kings hoping kuuya naye ku Harare.”
The fiery bass guitarist told H-Metro that Utakataka was assembled in Kwekwe where Tongai was renting one room.
“We assembled this group in Kwekwe in Mbizo Section 8 where Tongai Moyo was renting one and a half rooms.
“There was an old man who had guitars called Golden Alifante who used to borrow us some guitars that we used for rehearsals,” says Mudhindo who believes he did his part to pur sungura on the world map.
Mudhindo who was exposed to many temptations like loose women says it was by God’s grace that he lived to this day.
“I thank God for keeping me alive since 1993 when we were exposed to a lot of harmful stuff and dangerous people.
“Ukazazvibatawo hako mumagitare zvinhu zvacho hazvibudi zvakanaka.
“The majority of people I worked with died so I always pray and thank God for looking after us.”
Mudhindo reckons he owns people an explanation regarding his departure from Utakataka Express.
“I left Utakataka in 2003 when we were approaching 2004 and assembled Orchestra VaZvamburi.
“I did not take a risk whatsoever when I left Utakataka Express because it has always been my dream that I assemble my own group.
“So meeting Tongai Moyo along the way was indeed a stepping stone for me since I needed to grow in music,” he says.
However, Mudhindo feels people need to know the reality that caused their separation.
“There were so many issues that happened behind the scenes and people did not understand what we were going through.
“I was loyal to Tongai Moyo because when he was deserted in the UK, I stood by him.
“Other boys remained behind in England and I could have stayed behind as well because I have three aunts staying there who persuaded me to stay but I refused.
“I sacrificed a lot to come back home because when we left, Tongai Moyo’s father had died and I was sympathising with him since he was drained a lot.
“When we released the album with Samanyemba, I became very busy because I also do sign writing.
“Then, I had won a contract with Delta to write Chibuku emblems for the whole province of the Midlands.
“I was helping my uncle called Frank who got the tender from Delta but he had challenges when it comes to writing.
“I did that sign of Hari Yemadzisahwira advert and I passed the auditions and we won a big contract and bought my first car.”
Mudhindo says his first car sowed divisions in the group as they thought he was given special attention.
“When I bought my first car, many people thought it was Tongai who bought it for me.
“As a result, I had too much workload in the Midlands province as we toured the whole area up to Gokwe where we were supposed to write logos and signs at all beerhalls and bar names.
“We would spend two three at one beerhall doing sign writing but I realised it was better to leave,” recalls Mudhindo.
Determined to make peace with Tongai, Mudhindo says he went out of his way and recruited a fellow bass guitarist as cover when he is not around.
“I spoke to him and we went and recruit Savious “MuSamaria” Karikodzi and Spencer Khumulani who came as a rhythm guitarist.
“Then, Spencer was alternating between Tongai and Soma Ndebele.
“At one point, Spencer was no longer reliable and I then taught Sevhi all the bass lines that I used to play in previous albums so that he can catch up.
“When I finally left, Spencer started off as a rhythm guitarist switched to the bass guitar since didn’t trust Sevhi who they regarded a slow learner.
MUCHINA MUHOMBE DISS
Mudhidho also cleared the air on songs believed by fans referred to him.
“When the song Muchina Muhombe was released, many people believed it was targeted at me but in actual fact that was an old song that we did together long back.
“The song was actually dedicated to Gift Chiteve who had left Tongai and the one lines like Ukandisungira Zvinhu handibvume referred to Gift.
“However, it’s hard to convince people who still think Tongai referred to me.
“I only recorded a few albums with Tongai and left him fighting his wars with Gift Chiteve,” he said.
After assembling his own group, Mudhindo tested the music waters and got the reality check.
“I now have six albums to my credit namely Vazvamburi Vauya recorded in 2005, Poto Huru (2006),
“It’s unfortunate that the two albums did not perform well on the market due to lack of marketing on my side and the stable when I recorded them.
“In the year 2007, we were lucky when DJ Phuthy took us for a ZMC promotion which was taking place.
“After making an impression, we then did a DVD and album called Mazirume.
“In the year 2010 I released an album called Bhora Pasi which was followed by Zvipere Zvipere (2013.
“In the year 2017, I did an album called Dhara Harimhanyi while in South Africa. So far that’s what I have done including singles with Tongai Junior.
LIFE IN SA
Like any other foreigner in South Africa, Mundindo says life is not a bed of roses but he is managing.
“We are doing very well here as compared to home there are challenges as well.
“I now work at a mine so I don’t have enough time to hold shows,” he says.
Besides his busy schedule, Mudhindo has never stopped recording.
“I am now I am flexible at work and I will be releasing three singles but early next year I will be releasing an album and full DVD.”
The versatile entertainer is also a proud family man.
“I am married with four boys and first born is called David Mudhindo follow by Thomas Mudhindo.
“Innocent Mudhindo is my third born and his is the one who featured in the recent video as Vazvamburi Junior.
Innocent is interested in music while the last born is called Sydney.
Mudhindo says God blessed him with talented children.
“My first born David is a sound engineer and he is busy setting up his own studio here where he creates new beats.
“He is working on assembling a big studio while the second born who is 17 years now plays soccer for Lancashire Steel.
“I have approached soccer coaches like Thanks Thengwe and Kaitano Tembo who advised him to keep working hard.
“Vazvamburi Junior is into music and he is a on a single. He is 10 years old now.”
Mudhindo has a special advice to fellow musicians who cannot hande fame.
“’Ma artiste ngavazvibate nekuti vakandzi vane mari vapedza vakomana vemagitare.
“Artists should realise that there are no short cuts in life because they end up losing the talent concentrating with women.
“Vakadzi can finish you and I have seen it from the majority of people I worked with.”
Mudhindo who has settled well in South Africa says he has plenty to offer.
“There is plenty coming for my fans but I am not happy with the standards of sungura at the moment.
“We now have more copycats in sungura as most of them would either want to sound like Tongai or Alick Macheso.
“Sungura is good as dead and it’s no longer evolving and that’s what I want to do,” he says.