By Bruce Ndlovu
It has been 14 years since he died, but Emily Dube has not lost her love for Fanyana Dube, the late jazz great musician.
Ms Dube fell in love with Fanyana the same way most Zimbabweans did — when he was at his mesmerising best on stage, doing what he seemed to have been born to do.
The year was 1993 and the man who won a nation’s heart with songs like Imali was about to win another one.
Singing the song Nyama Yembongolo, the visually impaired musician stole the heart of Ms Dube, who in that moment with the notes from Dube’s magical saxophone flowing down her ear, was convinced that she had found the man she was destined to spend her whole life with.
Alas, 12 years later he passed on and in the 25 years since Ms Dube first laid eyes on Fanyana, her love for him has not waned.
“When I was with him I had settled. I had really told myself that this is the man that I’m going to spend the rest of my life with. My heart was content and I’ve not really felt the need to move on ever since he passed on,” she told Sunday Life in an interview.
Losing a life partner is not easy and different people pursue different paths towards recovery. Some, whose scars heal quicker, are able to find love again relatively quicker after the heartbreak of losing the person who their hearts had settled for.
Others take longer to heal while some give up on love altogether.
For Ms Dube, 14 years has not brought another suitor who can rival Fanyana for her heart.
“Thoughts of remarrying have never come to me. It’s something that I’ve never seriously thought about. I guess I’ve never met someone who my heart fancies,” she said.
Life without a partner is not easy however, and since the passing of Fanyana, Ms Dube has had been confronted with the problems that many widowed mothers face in Zimbabwe.
While she used to be a singer herself, Ms Dube had to forsake her career to take care of the three children that marriage to Fanyana brought her.
At one time, the family was destitute as Ms Dube moved from home to home in Mutare seeking shelter.
She was the manager of the late musician’s band, Afro Jazz Merchants, for two years after the musician’s death.
“Things have been hard particularly the first few years after Fanyana’s passing. When he passed on I still had one of our children (Crowne) strapped to my back.
So you can imagine how hard it was to make a living and provide for your children while at the same time trying to push ahead with the music. We tried to keep the band going in the past but we couldn’t keep it up. The instruments were also old and so in the end we had to stop,” she said.
As things got tougher Ms Dube, like thousands of other Zimbabweans, has had to turn to resort vending in order to eke out a living.
“I buy and sell things like potatoes and other vegetables. That’s how I survive because I’ve no one else supporting me,” she said.
Before he died Dube made an indelible mark on the Zimbabwean music scene. The talented guitarist, composer and saxophonist made his mark with the Jairos Jiri Sunrise Kwela Kings before joining the Jobs Connection.
During his illustrious career, he rubbed shoulders with other greats like Lovemore Majaivana while he also paid his dues in South African music circles where his last album was recorded.
However, despite the fact that he was a high profile name, with friends in high places when he was alive, few have come to the rescue of his family when poverty knocked on their door.
“Honestly no one has offered to help the family from the famous people who were his friends when he was alive. I’ve had to soldier on alone because raising three children on your own is not an easy task,” she said.
While Dube’s discography is a goldmine for Zimbabwean music lovers, the late musician’s wife said that the royalties that they had been getting were not enough for the upkeep of her family.
“We get money for the royalties every June but the money is far from enough. Perhaps the money is good enough to pay for the fees of one of the children. It can’t do any more than that so in reality it doesn’t help much,” she said.
The silver lining to the dark cloud surrounding the Dube family has been the fortunes of Fanyana Jnr, the late musician’s first born son.
Through his sheer hard work and determination, he has managed to pull himself by the bootstraps and is now studying Electronic Engineering at the University of Science and Technology of Houari Boumediene in Algiers, Algeria.
“To be honest the church has helped me a lot over the years especially with school fees. Fanyana Jnr was just extremely brilliant at school so I got a lot of help with his fees and he kept on doing well until he managed to get a scholarship to study in Algeria where he is currently based,” she said.
Over the years, one thing that has troubled the Dube family is shelter. While he had a house in Saurcetown, it was left to two children from his first marriage, Victor and Mandla.
Ms Dube revealed that the late musician had bought another property in Mutare, where she is still based, before his passing.
“He bought a stand here before he passed away but due to our financial situation we’ve not been able to develop it. That’s something that I would like to do if we get the money,” she said.
Despite all the hardships, Ms Dube is still self sufficient, stating that her only desire was to get a stand where she can sell her wares.
“If I could get a stand it would go a long way in improving my situation. That’s all that I need and if any of his fans can help I would appreciate it,” she said. Sunday News.