By Jonathan Mbiriyamveka
“Dendera United” is now in danger after the feud between Suluman Chimbetu and Tryson Chimbetu escalated in the last few weeks.
Comprising the Chimbetu family members — Suluman, Tryson, Douglas and Allan, the “Dendera United” is one of the highlights at “Oliver Mtukudzi’s Birthday Bash” scheduled for next month.
But cousins Suluman and Tryson have not been on talking terms before and after the late Simon Chimbetu Bash held in Chinhoyi during the Heroes and Defence Forces holidays. The dendera music dynasty was started by brothers Simon, Naison Briam (all late) and now comprises Allan, Douglas, Tryson and Suluman.
Simon and Naison formed The Marxist Brothers and later Orchestra Dendera Kings with Allan and were legends of dendera music. A feud was to follow soon after the death of Simon, as the throne needed a new heir. That on its own created friction as the family fought over the ownership of instruments and property.
Then just when everything was going well for Suluman, members of his Orchestra Dendera Kings jumped ship and joined Tryson’s camp. Once that dispute was resolved, another hitch ensued as reports circulated that Suluman tried in vain to stop other Chimbetu family members from singing his father’s songs.
Sulu, as he is popularly known in the music world, was roundly condemned since everyone within the Chimbetu dynasty was riding on Simon’s coattails. But the recent feud between Sulu and Tryson has been caused by a number of things among them, the competitiveness of the music industry.
Firstly, that Sulu had become the doyen of dendera music such that he had everything to himself — you talk of endorsements, shows and naturally he became big-headed.
One of Sulu’s major goals was to turn Orchestra Dendera Kings from a one-man show into a star-studded outfit. This was when he decided to rope in the likes of Franco “Slomo” Dhaka and Uncle Allan, who by virtue of his experience with the original Orchestra Dendera Kings, was the right guy to spruce up his acts.
Because of these tendencies that were creeping into Sulu’s and his ego, fans felt shortchanged and turned to Tryson. In other words, Sulu created the star in Tryson. Humble as he was, Tryson listened to advice given to him whether by his manager, fans or most importantly, show promoters and that opened doors for him.
Tryson had somehow an edge over Sulu because of his silky vocal skills. There are a number of people who are convinced that Tryson sings, dances and ululates more like the late Simon and less like his own father Naison, while others suggest that Sulu tries too much. Tryson’s voice comes out naturally.
That has been the major source of conflict between Sulu and Tryson and up until now, it is still debatable whether indeed Tryson is a better singer than Sulu. Tryson’s star continued to shine and he began to have more bookings than Sulu, and eventually it was time for the “Kwedu” hitmaker to go on the drawing board to try and turn the tables.
From then on the feud grew and during the run-up to the Simon Chimbetu Bash at Orange Grove Motel, there were accusations and counter accusations between Sulu and Tryson. The idea behind the gala was to bring all the Chimbetus together and celebrate the life and times of Simon.
As family members nobody was supposed to have special invitation, which means Tryson’s argument that he was not invited was baseless. According to Tryson, he only learnt of the gala through the Press.
However, even if Tryson was not invited, was it not aware of the gala and as a Chimbetu, was he not compelled to join the rest of the family in celebrating the life of the founder of the dendera dynasty?
Tryson also claimed that he had been sidelined from the outset and there was no need for him to be part of the bash in Chinhoyi. While Tryson said he had not been told about the gala, Sulu told journalists that Tryson had shows lined up elsewhere.
Things are not going to be the same for the two youngsters, who instead of embracing each other as family, see each other as competition.
Partson “Chipaz” Chimbodza, one of the show promoters, who are organising the Mtukudzi Birthday Bash told The Herald Entertainment that there was still a chance for “Dendera United”.
“In all fairness these are family members and what is lacking is communication between them. However, ‘Dendera United’ is still very much alive and they are going to perform on one stage and on the same night,” he said.