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Simon Chimbetu’s forgotten son speaks out

The late Simon Chimbetu’s life was well lived, churning out songs that were inspiring and tackling social issues in a subtle way that made his music not only sweet to the ear but a treasure in many households.

The late Simon Chimbetu
The late Simon Chimbetu

Together with his brother Naison, they introduced a unique beat that later blossomed to become the famous dendera brand. While his talent was there for all to see, arguably Simon’s most guarded secret he went with into the grave was the number of children he sired.

Over the years, the issue of Simon’s offspring have been a subject of intense debate.

At Simon Chimbetu commemoration gig held last weekend in Harare Gardens, the presence of Chamu Boroma who claims to be Chopper’s “forgotten son” did not only torch the issue but also sent tongues wagging among the patrons who thronged the venue.

Boroma went even further to fuel speculation when he joined the other Chimbetus – Allan, Suluman, Douglas and Tryson – in singing the song “Saina”, penned by the late dendera great.

Though his stage presence was brief, he left a lasting impression among the audience that maybe with time the Chimbetus are embracing their “forgotten son”. This week Saturday Lifestyle trekked the Chimbetu wannabe who gave his version of why he was part of the proceedings at Harare Gardens.

Boroma boldly declared that he was the son of the late Simon but unfortunately for him he has no proof to show for it since his mother Jane Boroma passed on a few years ago.

“I am the son of the late Simon and it was not by coincidence or mistake that I was part of the Chimbetu commemoration last Sunday,” he said.

Though his narration is somewhat vague, Boroma seemed to be convinced that the blood that runs in his veins are that of the Chimbetus.

“When I was growing up I always nagged my mother to tell me the whereabouts of my father. She would just say, ‘Your father is someone well known’ without mentioning his name. I continuously pestered her to tell me until her brother Peter told me I was the son of Simon Chimbetu,” he said.

However, his mother did not live long enough to unite him with his “family”. Boroma said what had happened to him earlier in life left him convinced that he was indeed a Chimbetu.

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“After completing my secondary education at Chishawasha, I went on to join the late Naison Chimbetu as his backing vocalist. He told me pointblank that my voice sounded similar to that of Simon. Everyone would ask him, why I looked similar to the Chimbetus but he would occasionally brush it off saying I was his young brother,” said Boroma.

Boroma said there was a strong connection the first and the only time he met his Simon.

“I had been invited for rehearsals by Allan at the National Sports Stadium together with a bunch of aspiring musicians. Simon came straight to me and said, ‘I know you’. He went on to say that my face looked familiar but could not shed more light,” he said.

Boroma said the dendera king was impressed by his vocal abilities and encouraged him to perfect his dancing skills. According to Boroma, two months down the line Simon passed on.

“It was the most devastating news to me. I felt there was something Simon did not tell me and when my uncle told me that I was Simon’s son, it came as no surprise,” he said.

Boroma said after Simon’s death, he went to work under Allan and Suluman and people would mistake him for Suluman.

“People always thought I was Sulu,” he said.

He described his relationship with Allan and Suluman as cordial.

“We constantly talk on the phone,” he said.

Boroma now fronts his own band called Orchestra Kings that he formed in 2008 and to has so far released three albums. But is the Chimbetu family ready to take him as one of their own?

“I talked about the issue with Allan since he is the surviving father and he said he could not deny or accept that I was Simon’s son. He said it was difficult to prove that since both Simon and my mother are no more. He said time will tell if I will ever be accepted into the family,” he said.

In fact, so convinced is Boroma that he is a chip off the old block he has named his son after the dendera icon. While Boroma is celebrating being part of the Chimbetu commemorations, Suluman said there was no reason for him to celebrate because it was an open event.

“He did call me wanting to be there and I had no reason to deny him since it was a public event. I did not know in what capacity he was there, but to me he is just a singer,” said Sulu.

Born in 1978, Boroma is a divorcee with two children -Vanessa and Simon. 

Efforts to get a comment from Allan Chimbetu proved fruitless as his phone was not reachable. The Herald