By Liberty Dube
HEIR to the Dendera throne Sulumani Chimbetu has admitted that life without his late mentor, father and dendera proponent Simon has not been a bed of roses but an exigent expedition.
August 14 in 2005 was the day Simon’s life ended, but that was the beginning of Suluman’s life. Sulu, as he is fondly known by his fans, was by then employed by the Airforce of Zimbabwe and never thought he would, under any circumstances, leave his passionate job and trade his uniform for guitars.
He faced resistance and was loathed for the decision of keeping the dendera genre afloat.
“I had to do both jobs. They were so demanding. But I had to leave the Airforce of Zimbabwe and keep the dendera flying high. A few liked the idea.
Music was and is by some people regarded as music yemarombe and many people discouraged me from pursuing that line of business on a full-time basis,” said Sulu in a wide-ranging interview recently.
The soft-spoken and charismatic vocalist and composer said he joined Orchestra Dendera Kings with verve and confidence under the tutelage of uncle and musician Allan Chimbetu. They later went separate ways over unclear circumstances before he became the leader of the group.
“Ever since we lost dad things were never the same again. Musically the road was not so rosy. When I took over the reins, the pressure from fans was instant and intense.
“They compared me to my late father. They wanted an album. I did not get much support. I was a quiet person and more like a listener, but I had to be a man,” said Sulu.
Surely, Sulu succeeded where other musicians’ siblings failed. The multi-award-winner has released four albums including the award-winning Syllabus which contains the hit Sean Timba. He has collaborated with various artistes such as dancehall kingpin Shinsoman and the enterprising contemporary raggae musician, Jah Prayzah, on songs Minana and Sean Timba respectively.
“We need unity. Art has so many dimensions and can be presented in various ways. We should exchange ideas and make music beautiful.
“Instead of appreciating art, people are busy comparing us (artistes). We need to unite just like international artistes. We should be happy about each other’s achievements.”
Suluman paid tribute to promoters and mentors, the likes of Red Rose Entertainment, Josh Hozheri, Chipaz Promotions, Oliver Mtukudzi and band member Moffat Nyamupandu, among others, for finding him out.
“They played a critical role and I owe them a lot. I have known Moffat since I was a baby. I grew up and learnt a lot from him. He is a dedicated icon and my mentor. We all look up to him. He gives us strength,” said Suluman. Manica Post