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Barbara’s suicide: A tragic end precursor? A tale of Tongai Moyo’s wife who rejected polygamy

By Bruce Ndlovu

The trials, tribulations and pain associated with polygamy were brought to the fore last week after cracks within Tongai Dhewa Moyo’s family were brought to the surface, but such family differences may have already claimed one life before even Tongai Moyo’s own casket had been lowered beneath the earth.

The late Tongai Moyo (centre) receiving a NAMA award
The late Tongai Moyo (centre) receiving a NAMA award

Our sister paper The Sunday Mail reported last week how Peter Moyo, Tongai’s heir, had allegedly been reduced to a virtual warlord, feuding fiercely with his younger brother Obert Tongai Moyo Jnr while he had evicted his siblings from the family home in Kwekwe.

Allegedly ignoring the pleas of other family members seeking a roof over their heads, the property now houses Dhewa’s former wife and mother to Peter, Maud Chirwa, and Young Igwe’s two children.

That is the only crime in Peter’s alleged charge sheet. Among other transgressions, he is accused of having refused to pay the school fees of his siblings while also failing to support or boost Tongai Jnr’s own fledgling music career.

However, while some might have been shocked by the sudden revelation of the turmoil in the late sungura maestro’s family, for those that followed his life outside music this would have hardly come as a surprise, especially after the 2010 suicide by Barbara Muchengeti, Tongai’s wife before he wedded Minenhle Mukweli.

The Utakataka Express front man also had two wives who are now reputed to be living in South Africa after his death.

Polygamy has always been a hot potato in Zimbabwe and has been for a long time, with traditionalists arguing that it is a traditional practice that should be kept in place while others argue that it should be abolished.

For those against it, the possibility of the kind of turmoil the Dhewa family is witnessing are reasons enough to quash the practice.

For Barbara, the debates about the merits of polygamy and monogamy did not come soon enough.

Barbara took her own life according to her family. In the aftermath of her death, the sungura star had also been apologetic.

“I’m still devastated by what happened,” he told the then Sunday Magazine back at the time. I’m still in agony, absolute agony, her death was unexpected. We had discussed the issue of me marrying a second wife and we seemed to had reached an understanding, then from nowhere, she decided to commit suicide. I regret her death because it is resting on my conscience. If I could turn back the hands of time, I would.”

Despite his failure to stick with her and only her during marriage, Dhewa had acknowledged the role she had played in his life.

“I loved my wife. She helped me in my music in all ways, she even corrected my lyrics. It’s difficult to soldier on without her but I know she would carry on with my music. The album Toitabasa which I just released is dedicated to her. I know some people blame me for my wife’s death and in a way they’re right. My wife decided to take her own life after I decided to marry a second wife. All I’m asking is for Zimbabweans to let bygones be bygones,” he said.

While debate will no doubt rage about who is wrong and who is right in the Moyo family wrangles, Barbara’s death and the current squabbles may serve as a warning of all that could go wrong if a man has his eye on more than one wife. -The Sunday News

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