8 June 2018
. . . ‘Troubles make me strong’
. . . ‘Security used to deny me entrance in clubs’
THE mere mention of sungura icon Alick Macheso is a reflection of the mighty working wonders of the hand of God.
His trajectory has not been rosy until a time when he was to lead his own band.
He was disowned by his father when his mother carried him in the womb; he was not fortunate like many of his other peers when growing up in Musiiwa, Shamva in the white owned commercial farms.
He was disadvantaged in that others had their parents but he was raised by a single mother and uncles.
Such were the hardships in the farming community that he ended up being a school dropout.
When he got married, another man in General Luke had to take care of him and his family when his only source of livelihood at Khiama Boys dried up.
This explains his early albums in Magariro, Vakiridzo and Simbaradzo where he dwells on hardships that he and other people might face while growing up. When he sings Mundikumbuke or Baba he usually sheds a tear when he mentions his father – wherever he is.
Macheso started off playing guitars made from empty cooking oil tins and twine he used to steal from his grandmother’s fishing hooks.
“I remember the clashes I used to have with my grandmother pandaidambura twine dzezvirauro zvavo ndichigadzira banjo. Unfortunately she is now late, but that how my musical journey began,” said Macheso.
Baba Sharo – as the entertainer is fondly known – moved to the capital just after independence and continued with his passion. He went on to meet people like Shepherd Chinyani who took him down the ropes, converting him into a real instrumentalist. Then, he was playing lead and rhythm guitars.
“As the journey continued, I then came to Harare to stay with my uncles in Dzivaresekwa and went on to meet people like Shepherd Chinyani and Nicholas Zakaria who helped me a lot. By then I used to play rhythm and lead guitars,” narrated Macheso.
Macheso was weaned into a complete at musician at Khiama Boys under the leadership of Zakaria. It is at Khiama Boys were he started playing bass guitar since the group had no ‘bass man’.
While it looked like a breakthrough, the underage Macheso – then – had to endure embarrassment during live performances since he was being denied entrance. He narrated an incident when he needed the intervention of Zakaria to enter a club after he was turned away by security for being under 18 years. The security was not aware that the boy they were denying entrance was part of the band to entertain patrons.
As if that was not enough ‘embarrassment’, the patrons in the club could not believe that it was the boy (Macheso) strumming the bass guitar and had to ask other instrumentalists to stop playing.
“The security used to deny me entrance at night clubs arguing that I was under age. They didn’t know that I was among the band, at one point I had to seek help from Mdhara Zakaria to gain entrance.
“I will then remain at the backstage and went straight to the stage because I was very young. People couldn’t event believe that I was the bass man and vaitombomisa mamwe magitare kuti ndiridze ndega.”
During his days at Khiama Boys, Macheso had been instrumental in the success of the group.
Remember his role on the hit song Mabvi Nemagokora and Chikumbiro? Macheso showed signs that he could be a success musician when he started composing his own songs to be part of the album.
One of his songs Shamiso is still a good oldie to die hard sungura followers.
Even Macheso himself respects those compositions and he usually performs them during his shows to date.
Macheso walked away from Khiama Boys in 1998 and went on to form Orchestra Mberikwazvo along with Zacharia Zakaria.
Though the breakaway is said to have emanated after a misunderstanding, Macheso denies it.
Orchestra Mberikwazvo was formed when Nicholas Zakaria decided to shelve music to become a truck driver after some hardships in showbiz.
“Mdhara vakazofunga kumbonotyaira and since I was a family man, I then decided to form Orchestra Mberikwazvo. That is the journey of Alick Macheso.”
Macheso started his journey with Magariro in 1998 which carries songs like Baba naMai, Mwana waMai Vangu, Gogogoi, Sarah, Kushungurudzwa and Pakutema Munda.
Born to parents of Malawian origin, Macheso can sing in different African languages and his second album Vakiridzo carries a Chewa song Kumuzi Kwatu. Some of the songs on the album include Tariro, Shedia, Chitubu and Yave Tinotenda.
He went on to release four albums in consecutive years with a major breakthrough being Simbaradzo in 2000 when his song Mundikumbuke was voted number one on the then Radio 2 end of year top 20. The album carried other good songs like Mai Rubhi, Nguva, Kusekana Kwana Kamba, Petunia and Kunyarara Zvavo.
Macheso’s career was hit by troubles from the early stages – at the turn of the century – when he was dumped by key band members including Samuel Mugege, Thomson Chauke and Rodgers Fatiya.
He went on to hire the likes of Noel Nyazanda, Lucky Mumiriki and Innocent Mijuntu and went on to produce several hits.
The Orchestra Mberikwazvo leader went on to lose band members along the way with Donald Gogo and Mijuntu joining the deserters.
Macheso lost almost the entire band in 2013 which led to the formation of Extra Kwazvose.
That did not see the end of Macheso; he went on to recruit unknown instrumentalists in the name of Devine Muzenda, Mike Maikoro and Francis Poto who are currently part of the group.
Macheso believes the troubles he faced in life have strengthened him and helped him to be an accomplished musician.
“It is such things that make musicians strong. You have to face such troubles to make it in whatever industry you pursue,” he said.
Macheso is praised for his rich lyrics which he said are inspired by his life and the people around him.
In 2001, Macheso released Zvakanaka Zvakadaro which carried Monalisa, Chisoni, Kumhanya Kuripo, Mwari Wenyasha, Chara Chimwe and Zvimiro.
Possibly after realising that he has marked his territory, Macheso abandoned his routine of releasing an album every year.
He returned with Zvido Zvenyu Kunyanya in 2003 with songs like Madhawu, Kuhwereketa, Parudo, Wemakonzo, Ziva Zvaunoda and Charakupa.
While Macheso continued to shine, Tongai Moyo blossomed from another end which led to the birth of a sungura rivalry.
The rift, though the artistes denied it, was fuelled by chanters Jonas Kasamba and Gift ‘Shiga Shiga’ Katulika who could ‘diss’ each other through song.
Macheso’s strong discography continued with the release of Vapupuri Pupurai in 2005 carrying songs like Makandidana, Tererai, Amakebhoyi, Upenyu Hwemunhu, 1940, and Murondatsimba.
It is on this album that Macheso solo guitars specifically Tererai, introducing a style that endeared him with his fans.
The album carried the song Murondatsimba which targeted his copycats, though some critics argued it was necessary coming from a torch bearer.
The sungura kingpin then recorded his seventh album – Ndezvashe-eh – in 2007 with a South African studio though the contract affected him later.
The album carried songs like Madhuve, Chikopokopo, Murume, Ndiwe, Amuna Wanga and Chengetai.
He had to delay for with a year to record his eighth album Zvinoda Kutendwa due to contractual complications.
Like any other celebrity, Macheso’s life was marred with controversies – think of when he married ex-wife Tafadzwa Mapako.
He is a man who pours his heart through song, the album Zvinoda Kutendwa carried the hit song Tafadzwa – which many concluded was a dedication to his former wife after some a spate of brushes with the media.
This album which leaked before the official release carried other songs like Nguva Yekutenda, Chimoko, Kudzima Moto, Chaungada Chose and the title track Zvinoda Kutendwa.
Macheso’s had also some controversies when he separated with Tafadzwa but that did not stop him.
He proved his fan base when multitudes of fans thronged the Harare Magistrates’ Civil Court following his maintenance court.
While some sections have labeled Macheso’s ninth album – Kwatakabva Mitunhu – a flop, one of the songs Macharangwanda went on to be voted number one of the radio Zimbabwe Coca Cola Top 50. The album has songs like Chiri Mumaoko, Cynthia, Samasimba, Kustvaga Chiremba and Zvipo.
Possibly because of lack of competition, Macheso starved his fans for four years but continued to attract good crowds to his shows.
He returned with another blockbuster – Tsoka Dzerwendo – in 2016 becoming his 10th album.
The song carries songs like Gungwa, Baba, Kurarama Inyasha, Mude Mude, Munyaradzi and Wandirangaridza.
And today, roads lead to Aquatic Complex in Chitungwiza where Macheso launches his 11th album titled Dzinosvitsa Kure.
The album which has far received endorsement from stakeholders carries songs like Chikuru Kurarama, Pfuma yacho, Ndakakutadzirei, Kudzwai, Madzitete and Vane Zvavanoda.
Today is a special day to the man who is now looking after several families through music.
Macheso turns 50 on Sunday and he celebrates the birthday with fans tonight.
His group, Orchestra Mberikwazvo was formed twenty years ago, and they will also be celebrating two decades tonight.