Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Do you remember the song ‘Getu’?…here is the story behind the making of the hit

His wife’s sister fell ill and they had to visit her. She lived at a nearby farm and they had to go there on foot. In farms and rural areas, a short distance might not be so short. Because of limited modes of transport, a long distance can be considered short.

The late Philemon Mijoya
The late Philemon Mijoya

They are used to walking many kilometres on foot and still say their destination is “just across the river” or “just behind the big mountain”.

The distance between Rogate and BonZim farms outside Chegutu is not short, but inhabitants of the communities can visit each other daily without counting kilometres between their respective farm compounds.

So, when Philemon Mijoya, who lived at Rogate Farm, let his wife go ahead of him to visit her ailing sister at BonZim Farm one day in 1994, he knew he would be able to cross the familiar plain in a few hours at sunset.

He knew he would be with them that evening to discuss the situation with his in-laws. They were supposed to find the best way to take her for treatment.

His wife set off in the afternoon with her one-year-old daughter Getrude on her back. He waved them goodbye and promised to be with them later that day. He kissed his daughter and said a few words about how much he loved his first born. Off to BonZim, they went.

After sunset, he was on his way to BonZim Farm. As a son-in-law, he was prepared to meet his wife’s relatives with a possible solution to the challenging situation at hand. He had to play his part and prove his worth.

But when he arrived at BonZim Farm after some hours of walking, he met the worst situation of his life. He found his wife with a boyfriend at his sister’s house. Yes, she was having quality time with another man at that ailing sister’s house. What a betrayal!

Anger, frustration and disappointment conquered him. He confronted her and she added salt to the wound. She claimed that her childhood lover gave her the best time that he had failed to provide in their year of marriage.

He sought assistance from his in-laws and their intervention actually worsened the situation. They teamed up against him and a brawl consequently ensued. He was overpowered, beaten and bruised. In the ongoing melee, his daughter Getrude cried out loud, but he sensed danger. He had to run away. He ran for his dear life.

For hundreds of metres, he could still hear Getrude crying. He was heartbroken. He also cried. They called her Getu (short for Getrude). He had named her after his mother. His daughter was the only person who mattered to him in that chaos.

As the pain got better of him and Getu’s crying voice echoed in his ears, emotions melted into a song.

This is the story of Wrist Brothers leader Philemon Mijoya who wrote the popular hit “Getu” as it was told by his brother Baureni at Roget Farm outside Chegutu last weekend.

Mijoya died in 2006 after a long illness, but his story is still told at the farm. It is a story of love and betrayal. The hit “Getu” was based on a true story.

It is a song about a man promising his daughter that he would take her from her mother. It blames the mother of being a prostitute and in-laws for destroying his marriage.

“My brother died a bitter man because he loved Getu so much. That is why he sang a song for her. He told me the story about finding his wife with a boyfriend and how his in-laws and their friends beat him up when he confronted the boyfriend. It was a sad story that he always told until he died,” said Baureni.

As people in many parts of the country danced to “Getu” in the mid-90s, very few knew that it was a song written by a tearful betrayed man.

“I still remember the day. I was sleeping in my hut when he came knocking around midnight. I was shocked to see him. He had blood on his clothes and his face was swollen. He told me the story and he was in tears.

“He had started doing music and he went on to compose a song about the incident. He came together with some guys from nearby farms and they formed Wrist Brothers. They became so popular around here and the song ‘Getu’ took them countrywide.”

Baureni said the song was an emotional piece from Philemon because he loved his daughter.

“He said he no longer loved his wife, but he was worried about Getu. He wanted to take her from them but he did not succeed. He did not see Getu for 12 years. She only came with her mother a few months before he died in 2006, but he was not amused.

“He was angry because he was in pain and he could not talk to them. He said he did not want to see them and we told them to go away. They did not even come for his funeral. We heard that Getu’s mother got married to another man, but we are not in touch. Getu came here some years later when she wanted to get assistance to acquire a national identity card. That is when I showed her where her father is buried.”

Baureni said he does not know if Getu is married but she has a son called Denzel and is said to be staying in Highfield, Harare.

After parting ways with Getu’s mother, Philemon married another woman and they had three children. All the children stay at Roget Farm, but their mother died in 2007, a year after Philemon passed away.

Philemon’s mother Gogo Mijoyi (97) who is Getu’s namesake also stays at the same homestead and has bitter memories about her son.

“He told us that he no longer wanted to go to school when he was in form three. I was not happy, but he was adamant that he wanted to do music. They used to play homemade guitars with his friend and he dropped out of school,” said Gogo Mijoyi.

“He got married at an early age and he became serious about music. It was unfortunate that he separated with his wife after she cheated on him but he loved his daughter. She was named after me and I also loved her so much. It is also unfortunate that she does not visit me, but I am happy that my son made a name through the song ‘Getu’. I heard it being played on radio many times.”

At its formation, Wrist Brothers was made of Philemon, Salim Chikuta, Gordon Ncube, Ephraim Tapfumanei and Smart Mauto.

Later other members Shadrack Banda and Rogers Musa also became part of the band. Philemon and Ephraim are late, but all the other members are scattered at farms and mines in Chegutu and Kadoma.

They rarely do music because they failed to make a better hit than “Getu” until they lost popularity and most of them turned to gold panning.

After the album “Getu” in 1994, they also did “Mutangi Ndiwe”, “Sekuru Kuuya”, “Ndakarera Ndega”, “Musha Ndimai”, “Gehena” and “Sara Pavana”.

The group did their last show last year and they are hoping to regroup for another album this year.

During our visit to Chegutu farms, we also met Banda and Musa who spoke glowingly about their heydays.

“Wrist Brothers was a big name during the ‘Getu’ days and we toured many parts of the country. We had to stop doing music after realising that we were no longer popular and our shows were flopping. I was there when the group was formed, but I did not take an active role until a later stage,” recalled Banda.

“We got a contract to record at RTP (Record and Tape Promotions) in 1994 after auditions that were held at a place that belonged to the late Mr Bulk (David Chiyangwa) in Chitungwiza. We were about 20 groups and Wrist Brothers was among the few that won contracts to record with RTP. The song ‘Getu’ became an instant hit and we shared the stage with most big names in the industry.”

“As boys from farms that are in the same area, we knew our love for music and that was how the group came together. The name Wrist came from our motto when we were practicing. Our mentors always told us that we should make our wrists as flexible as possible in order to come up with good sound. Many people began calling us ‘wrist boys’ and we became Wrist Brothers. Some of us did not make it to the first line-up of instrumentalists but we got our permanent slots later in the years until we slowed down when our popularity waned,” said Musa. The Herald