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Music veteran Manatsa honoured

By Columbus Mabika

Veteran musician Zexie Manatsa was recently honoured by Zimbabwe’s oldest talent search show, Starbrite, for his exploits in the music industry.

Zex Manatsa
Zex Manatsa

For his service to the music industry, Manatsa was given a suit, shoes, belt all valued at US$850, while his wife Stella was given a designer outfit from Petreace, one of Zimbabwe’s famous designers, in addition to beautiful portraits of the couple’.

In a statement, Starbrite founder and executive director, Barney Mpariwa, said Manatsa’s honour was a gesture with a meaning to the acknowledgement of those who made strides in the music industry.

“The Starbrite’s extension of honour to Manatsa was not just a mere invitation, but a gesture with a pervasive meaning to the music industry where many great and talented musicians reach the point of death without being acknowledged,” he said.

“Starbrite honoured Manatsa to demonstrate the much needed appreciation of the artistes who passed the musical stick to the current generation. It also evokes a sense of pride in the minds of Zimbabwe’s music pioneers who ventured into the music industry at a time when it wasn’t easy. The honour reveals the kind of impact that has been made by the music he created.”

Mpariwa bemoaned and disapproved the common system of honouring artistes after their death, saying there was need to appreciate them while they were still alive.

“Starbrite’s honour to Zexie also deliver a message of assurance to the young Starbrite contestants. Music is not a career for social outcasts, but a vocation that can bring honour and recognition if executed well.

“It’s motivating to realise that those who have been into music since long back are still recognised at important events even after their retirement,” said Mpariwa.

“The music industry is dynamic and there are series of dispensations characterised by different music genres. What punctuated the waves during the 1970s may be not similar to what is tasty for the 21st century generation, but those who opened the path in the music industry remain crucially important.

“The extension of honour to Zexie Manatsa imposes a colorful meaning in the mind of young contestants.”

Mpariwa said the honour will send a message to established artistes to strive to do more.

Stella said they did not expect such an honour.

‘’We didn’t expect this, aiwa matigonera,’’ she said.

Born on 1 January 1944, Manatsa rose to stardom when he founded his band, the Green Arrows. The Green Arrows were formed in 1968 when he was 17 and in 1959, he launched his musical career in Mhangura.

In 1972, Manatsa began writing own songs to mass appeal.

South African saxophonist West Nkosi, who was also a consultant for Gallo Records, discovered the band and became their producer in 1977. The resulting album, “Chipo Chiroorwa”, didso well that the band re-formed as the New Green Arrows and moved to Harare.

Their success continued in the 1970s and 80s, as they continued to produce well-received tours and hit records. Some of their most memorable songs include their protest tunes “Nyoka Yendara” and “Tsuro”.

Their 1981 album “Mudzimu Wuyayi” was also produced by West Nkosi. At the peak of his career, Manatsa inspired and was hero-worshipped by many top musicians, who included Oliver Mtukudzi, James Chimombe, Lovemore Majaivana, Tinei Chikupo, Leonard Dembo, Thomas Mapfumo and Simon Chimbetu.

In the 1970s and 80s, Manatsa released many tracks which have proved to be all-time hits such as “Chipo Chiroorwa”, “Bambo Mwakwatila”, “Vaparidzi Vawanda”, “Mwana Waenda”, “Chechule Anavala.

He remained popular in the post-independence era, producing hits such as “Chivaraidze” and the swooning “Tii Hobvu”.

The band’s popularity declined as the 1990s approached when Manatsa was involved in a horrific car accident. He attributed his survival to God.

He eventually retired to pursue religious work, joining Zaoga Church where he used his musical skills and knowledge of interaction with the crowds to spread the word of God. The Herald

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