HARARE – Popular musician Tendai Mupfurutsa, also known as Prince Tendai, has died. He was 54. Prince Tendai had been battling with motor neurone disease for a while and had been on life-support in China.
Online reports are suggesting that he was brought back into the country on Tuesday and died just after midnight (3am) on his way to the Avenues Clinic in Harare. Mourners are gathered at House Number 4 Warwick Drive, Greystone Park, Harare.
Family friend, Jijita Gates, said Prince Tendai who has been sick for the past 8 months, succumbed to a motor neurone disease which affects the nervous system. He will be laid to rest at the Mupfurutsa homestead, in Magunje, Hurungwe, on Saturday. He is survived by his wife and six children.
Prince Tendai who was also a musical promoter was credited for bringing to Zimbabwe R n’ B musician, Akon and dancehall sensation Sean Paul in 2010 under his promotions company, Zimswag.
Singer Cynthia Mare told Nehanda Radio.com that Prince Tendai was “friends with my mother and auntie for over 30 years and is such a great loss. He was a helpful, kind man and believed in my music. That was the reason he asked me to be one of the supporting acts for the Sean Paul/Akon show last year.”
Other artists have also been expressing their shock and sorrow. Mehluli Moyo, one half of Afrika Revenge wrote this on his Facebook wall “very dark day in my life, my friend, my mentor, my brother prince tendai passed on this morning.im crashed.”
Producer Tatenda Take Fizzo Jenami wrote “Rip Prince Tendai, Gone too soon! Prince Tendai Mupfurutsa was will forever be remembered in the industry as a man with an eye for talent and style. May his soul rest in peace.”
This year Mupfurutsa unveiled a new album titled “Something Mysterious” narrating his battle with the motor neurone disease which affected his mobility and speech. The album comprised new and yesteryear hits.
“Mama take a good look at me/something ain’t right/take a good look into my eye, they ain’t shining bright/mama take a good look at me now/ something ain’t right/ take a good look into my eyes/ do you think I’ll survive,” he sings in one verse.
“The first thing I can remember there was pain in my arm . . . the second thing I can remember I couldn’t play my guitar. Then the doctor said this one he can’t fix/and the pastor gave me a verse to read. Then the doctor said he doesn’t understand and the pastor said let’s kneel down and pray. Something mysterious for sure is a mystery,” he sings.
Degeneration of the motor neurones leads to weakness and wasting of muscles, causing increasing loss of mobility in the limbs, and difficulties with speech, swallowing and breathing. Also featured on the album is – Tendai Jnr – his son and the talented boy band, Soulbone.
Other songs include smash hits – “November Rain”, “Zimbolicious”, “Character”, “Chipo Babe”, “Kuyaura”, “Mapere Nemazizi”, “Zambara”, a Nyanja song as well as “Forward Zimbabwe”. According to media reports, Prince Tendai cannot handle objects properly and his speech is hardly audible.
“I have not been very active in the past months because my condition does not allow me to engage in a lot of active tasks,” he once said. “I do not feel any pain and the condition has neither worsened nor improved. Doctors have told me that my nerves no longer function properly and they say it is a result of an accident that I was involved in last year. It is either because of shock or impact.”
Some of his barn-storming achievements are listed below;
He founded the first black-owned record label that was called Hi-Density Records in 1994. The company signed musicians like Simon Chimbetu, Elias Musakwa (who now owns Gramma Records), Marko Sibanda, Ndolwane Superstars, Lubumbashi Stars and Gospel Trumpet among others.
For about four years, he led the popular Midnight Magic that came up with hits like Zambezi to Limpopo, On and On, Mai Tendi, Sweet Temptation and Character among other hits. It was a four-member group that Mupfurutsa individually sponsored.
In 1998, he joined the list of first local promoters to host renowned regional gospel musicians when he hosted South African gospel supremo Sipho Makabane at the International Conference Centre in a historic show that saw the audience spilling to the auditorium’s periphery.
Mupfurutsa was the first Zimbabwean musician to be nominated for the Kora Music Awards in 1997 in the Best African Song of the Year category for the song Character. The likes of Chiwoniso Maraire, Oliver Mtukudzi and Tanga wekwaSando also got nominated in the following years.
Following the shocking Nyanga Bus Disaster in which about 90 pupils perished in 1991, Mupfurutsa brought together almost 30 local musicians in a collaborative awareness song titled Bus Driver. Musicians like Oliver Mtukudzi, Simon Chimbetu, Rusike Brothers and Mechanic Manyeruke took part.
Mupfurutsa was the first musician to chair the Zimbabwe Music Rights Association that takes care of musicians’ royalties. He led the association for 20 years and its membership grew from 100 musicians in 1988 when he took over to 3 000 by last year when he was moved to deputy chairperson position.
He was the first local producer to record an internationally-based rhumba group when he did an album for Kanda Bongoman titled Safari yaZimbabwe.
Following Fortune Muparutsa’s death in the United Kingdom in 2008 and the long delay in scheduled burial back home due to financial constraints, Mupfurutsa was one of the major sponsors who ensured that the body was flown back home and buried after about a year in a UK mortuary.