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Rise Kagona: Leader of the Pack Biggie Tembo (Part 7)

This is part 7 of the interview where A.A.V. Amasi, a Barchester Scholar at the National Film And Television School in the UK ,speaks to Bhundu Boys guitarist Rise Kagona about the musical journey that saw them conquer the international scene.

What do you mean? Do you mean ancestral spirits?

Biggie didn’t know his Father. He told us his Father was from Mozambique, he never saw his father. What happened in Mozambique is that his Father was herding cattle and whilst he was in the grasslands. A message came saying that village is destroyed. From there he went to the border running away from a war he had not seen.

Bhundu Boys
Bhundu Boys

Biggie used to tell us this. His father came to Zimbabwe and met his mum, they had a relationship but later on they separated whilst the mother was pregnant with Biggie. He was born not knowing where his Father was. We used to joke around “So you are a Mosken (Mozambican)”.

Its a true fact, if you look at the successful musicians back home most of them are foreigners. I am a foreigner myself. We continued working like that and Biggie started believing that he was going to make a lot of money. He was practicing and sometimes he was groaning in the house like spirits are coming out of him.

If you know the Song “Rugare” (Good life). He was predicting that he was going to be very rich. He was going to leave the Band. The Manager was going to help him pursue a solo career.

Whatever we were making as a Band, he was going to make it between the two of them. That was the arrangement with the Manager when he was tricked. Biggie did not see it coming, days went by and months went by. We used to go with the Manager to Zimbabwe and come back with him. On one of the trips they had a fight.

I have seen an article were it’s reported, Have you seen the pictures?

I told him, I don’t want to see them; I had warned him, this person you are playing with. He will beat you one day. He didn’t listen to me. When the fight happened, there were in Emerald Hill. Debbie Metcalfe who managed Oliver (Mtukudzi) was our partner in business.

We used to have a studio called Frontline Studio and Frontline PA system, which were massive. They all went down because of lack of management. We had all gone back home to rest. Gordon was staying at Debbie’s house. Biggie took advantage that he was back home and called Gordon. They had an argument and Biggie went to Emerald Hill. Gordon was staying in the cottage. They had a fight there. They didn’t call me; the person who called me was Shakie.

Shakie went there wanting to borrow money and heard the story “Biggie was here, they was a fight”Shakie called me and said, “Rise have you heard what happened here” and I was like “What happened” and then he said, “Biggie beat up the White man” I asked him “Why? What’s the story” and he said “The same old story “By then we knew what he had been promised. The other two (David and Shakie) regretted later on and they caught on. They started coming on to our side after the house was bought already.

Why do you think Biggie was that frustrated to beat up the Manager?

When we got chucked out of the house. The war between him and Biggie continued. I remember Biggie saying “The house is gone” I didn’t comment because I knew Biggie had his own agenda. The fight between them started heating up. You would hear that they had arguments over the phone.

I didn’t want to get involved and I told Biggie “You and me are working together. Lets be committed and work. Whatever you are doing its up to you. I don’t want to get involved” Biggie realized at some point that the deal was not going anyway. He harassed him. There is another time when we went home.

I remember a guy called Chimutanda who had a nightclub in Lochinvar or Southerton. Biggie made a currency deal with him. The deal was that Biggie buys equipment for his club and he gets paid in Zimbabwe dollars. After he had the fight with the Manager. The Manager didn’t want to speak to Biggie anymore. The Manager started preferring to dealing with the Band than Biggie.

Why didn’t the Manager go and report to the police?

He knew if he did he would get into trouble. I refused to get drawn into the whole situation. When we were coming back here. The Manager had already left to arrange the next tour. Biggie told the Manager “On the next tour don’t buy me a ticket, I will buy my ticket here” He was going to use the money from his deal and get the ticket refund in London.

At that point everything started going to the ground, you could see it going to the ground. Gordon bought four tickets, he didn’t buy Biggie’s because Biggie had said “Don’t buy my ticket, but I want the money when I get there”. We were like fine “as long as you get there on time”.

I don’t know what happened maybe Biggie got confused. The day to go back to London I was so late, the whole band was waiting. Davie who lived in Town collected the tickets. Normally we would meet up and he will give us tickets. I was late so the guys got to the airport. It felt like they was a negative spirit around it.

I had problems with the car and I got to the airport when they were about to close the doors. I was the last one there. When I got into the plane. I heard an altercation had happened with Biggie at the airport. Biggie had forgotten that he had told everyone “don’t buy me a ticket”. That he will buy his own ticket.

The boys said, “Rise if you had come early, a fight would have started. We saw fire with Biggie here. He came here without a ticket; at first we thought it was a joke, but he was serious and we only had four tickets”

When he couldn’t get on the plane, what happened?

He harassed the other boys and tried to take the tickets “No one is going, you can’t go without me. If you go, what will you play if I am not there? These other guys were scared of him. Biggie was a big guy and at some point he became tempered. I was the only person who could handle him. The rest used to ignore him. He had a mutual understanding with me; maybe it was more of respect.

I used to put him in his place. If he started doing his stuff, I would calm him down. He only listened to me and saw the others as rubbish. He harassed them and as his car was going back home mine was I arriving at the airport. When I got into the plane that is when I realized Biggie was not there and they explained what happened. I was lucky I wasn’t there cause if I was, we would have probably had a fight.

A.A.V. Amasi is a Barchester Scholar at the National Film And Television School. His contact details are [email protected] or http://www.chauya-chauya.co.uk

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