By Kudakwshe Chideme and Jonathan Mbiriyamveka
The documentary on the late Tongai Moyo and his battle against cancer will be launched tonight at the 7 Arts Theatre in Avondale, Harare. Dhewa – as Tongai was popularly known in music circles – succumbed to Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma cancer, which he had been battling since 2006.
While the 30-minute documentary revolves around Dhewa’s life and his struggle against cancer, it also seeks to raise awareness on the dangers of cancer and the prohibitive costs of drugs. Producer Abel Dzobo said the documentary was a way through which the late musician wanted to raise awareness on the effects of cancer.
“It was Tongai’s wish that people be aware of the challenges that patients of cancer face. Cancer is an expensive disease to cope with. We also intend to tell the true story of Dhewa’s fight as opposed to the stories that were making the rounds during his time of suffering”, he said.
During the launch, Utakataka’s new frontman Peter is expected to perform together with Dendera prodigy Sulumani Chimbetu. Veteran filmmaker Tsitsi Dangarebga will be the guest of honour. The documentary was made possible through support from several artistes who felt the need to assist the good cause.
These include Somandla “Mafia” Ndebele who was a close friend of the late, First Farai, Oliver Mtukudzi, Fungisai Zvakavapano Mashavave, Victor Kunonga and the Charambas. The Culture Fund also assisted in the production of the documentary.
Once it has been launched, 50 percent of the sales from the DVD will be channelled to the family of the late while 40 percent will cover production costs and the remaining 10 percent will be donated to the Cancer Association of Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile Tongai Moyo’s albums have stormed the airwaves as fans and record companies mourn one of Zimbabwe’s sungura stars. The Utakataka Express frontman is posthumously riding on a new wave of popularity with fans not only going after his latest release “Toita Basa” but also his yesteryear albums like “Vimbo”, “Vise”, “Chechete” and “Ndazvimba Mapapu”.
Affectionately known to his legion of fans as Dhewa, the “Ndinobvuma” singer is receiving heavy rotation on the airwaves, in pubs, clubs as well as commuter omnibuses. Most of his albums are also popular on iTune downloads. “It always happens that people don’t know what they have got until it’s gone,” said an official from Gramma Records who requested anonymity.
A kombi driver plying the City-Highfield route said he was a big fan of Dhewa although he never used to attend his live shows.
“There are many people who listened to his (Dhewa) music and yet they never attended any of his live shows. What’s happening now is that we are now appreciating his music more than ever before,” he said.
Another fan said the good thing about music was that it lives long after the musicians have died. “I think Dhewa will continue to live through his music and his message will remain relevant to the living as they go through their day-to-day lives,” Netsai Machingambi said.
Moyo assembled the Utakataka Express outfit before releasing his first solo album, “Vimbo”, in 1996.
The former hospital clerk joined Shirichena Jazz Band in the late 1980s, a period that saw him playing a pivotal role in releasing the group’s album, “Ndoita Zvangu Ndega” in 1991. It was not until he weaned himself from being a Leonard Dembo wanna-be to being his own man on the album “Samanyemba” that his career scaled dizzy heights.
The album “Naye” saw Dhewa hogging the limelight with his chart topper “Nemumvura Mese” which earned him two Zimbabwe Music Awards. Tongai had a litany of stage names that included “Muchina Muhombe”, “Samanyemba”, “Igwe”, and “Mopao Mokonzi”.
At the peak of his career, Dhewa did not confine his gigs to Zimbabwe, but spread his tentacles across southern Africa and Europe. He toured the UK, USA, Botswana and South Africa at times in the company of Oliver Mtukudzi and Alick Macheso, while he also collaborated with a popular Batswana artiste.