By Bridget Mananavire
When legends are being talked about in Zimbabwe, the name Susan Chenjerai is mentioned as part of them.
Chenjerai, better known as “Mai Rwizi”, entertained people through music and acting in the drama series Mhuri yaMukadota.
The production — though done in the 70s — is still entertaining people today, being rated as one of the country’s top drama productions because of its talent.
The Daily News on Sunday visited Mai Rwizi in Mbare where she is staying after her Banket house was destroyed in a fire, and she took the crew down memory lane to her days in showbiz up until now as a full time pastor with The New Gospel Church of God.
Chenjerai is revered in the arts sector as one of the first female actresses to foray into the music jungle where she worked with big names such as the Wagon Wheels, a band where she met superstar Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi before working with the late comedian Safirio Madzikatire.
She has also recorded with Jordan Chataika.
The talent also rubbed off on three of her six daughters who had their fair share of limelight.
“My sister Jane and I released hits, I’m the one who did Zai Regondo, Lindiwe and Jikinya and Jane did Usandimirira Paghedhi Unondirovesa Nababa. How can we not when our mother used to have such talent?” Daisy Chenjerai quipped.
“And we also acted. I was Chenzira and my late sister Patricia used to act as Chimbwido in Mhuri yaMukadota.”
But for Mai Rwizi, her time in showbiz was not glorious as she “suffered”.
“When I look back at that time, I say thank you God for saving me because I used to work with no substantial compensation.
“The work that we used to do, it was hard, I got sick at one time, I had a serious cough but could not stay at home. I needed to go there because people wanted us, they wanted to see me.
“It seemed as if I would die on that stage but I would just carry on, I don’t wanna go back there, I suffered, I rested when I got my calling. People would not want to see me missing on that stage,” she said.
Although she will never go back into acting, the 84-year-old said she would not mind singing gospel.
“But I am afraid of being mocked, can you not see I’m now old. The industry seems to have changed now though it seems things have changed in terms of recording and getting payments.
“I would not mind singing and preaching the gospel to get people saved. But acting, no.”
However, the memories are something she keeps, as she showed the Daily News on Sunday pictures of her travel and life from the time she got into showbiz, old calendars where her and books with their pictures and stories.
“So even up to now, people still recognise me. I went to a supermarket one time and a girl there recognised me and the people in the shop were excited and asked to take pictures with me,” she said.
However, she said she no longer watches any current dramas but used to be amused by Mutirowafanza’s talent during their days.
“I do not watch the dramas I am told that there are new dramas, and they are not as ours, but I don’t watch TV so what happened is after my husband got sick, we never even used to watch TV as we used to pray a lot.”
“During our time and the time when I used to watch TV, I liked Mutirowanfanza, yes, he used to make me laugh, the rest huh,” Chenjerai said.
She narrated to the crew how they met with Safiro Madzikatire, how she made peanuts and how she eventually left after her spiritual calling.
“We grew up together here in Mbare and I always loved to sing. That time I was at school and the other day, he heard me singing at Majubeki.
“Those days there were not as many thieves as now so we used to have our choirs and moved at night. So he said to me ‘My sister I want to sing with you’, because I used to call him ‘my brother’. So that is when we started and I also used to compose songs and even some of the songs we did such as Pahunyani, I composed it.”
“When we started, I used to work at Willards and he said ah maybe you should leave because people are now getting to know us and I left. And we started touring many places.
“And then I got a job at OK and stopped touring he was now moving around with other girls ana Katarina. Although we used to get money, I never used to make much because I would just get what he would give me so that’s why I looked for a job.
“So after I got married in the 70s, during the time I was at OK, that is when I got my calling and I left showbiz and started ministering with my husband. And God worked wonders and that is what we had been doing until he got sick and died in November last year.
“So after I got married, I continued acting for a while but my husband was not so keen on me doing that, but I continued as I had a contract to fulfil. And God spoke to me and I then left. In June,1984 that is when my calling came.
Out of the crew she used to act with, there are only three survivors — Chibhodoro, Machipisa and herself, as the rest passed away.
The talent in the crew was great. They did not need scripts as it would just flow.
“What used to happen is that Madzikatire and I would sit down and discuss issues that would make people laugh and just go with it. But we would also teach ana Mai Phineas,” Mai Rwizi said.
“I used to tolerate a lot from Baba Rwizi for there to be peace in the home, so that women know that the husband is the head.
“So some people say I died. What happened is after my husband died while we were on ministry travels, our house was burnt down. We had a nice house which was thatched and had an upstairs in Banket. So it got burnt down with everything in it, so that is why I’m here, otherwise I would have been there. I don’t have a house anymore. We do not know how it got burnt though,” she said.
She said her wish was, however, to see people saved.
“Everything that is happening in the world today has been written in the Bible. The Bible says when you see these things happen, they are signs that Jesus’ return is near. My wish is that people turn to God,” Mai Rwizi said. Daily News.