Hugh Masekela a ZIMBO!

I was incredulous to discover through a Herald newspaper report yesterday that the legendary Hugh Masekela is Zimbabwean by origin!hugh-masekela

Reporting on the matter was Jonathan Mbiriyamveka after hearing a Star FM interview of the jazz maestro by Comfort Mbofana. Because I have Mbofana’s number I have been trying to get via WhatsApp a confirmation about the revelation which has apparently proved too juicy not to share just in case you missed the news.

Long time coming
Why did it take so long for Masekela to reveal what must be one of the biggest showbiz stories this year? Here is an excerpt of Masekela’s story: “I was born in Witbank, but my grandfather came from Great Zimbabwe.

Our real surname is Munyepawu, we are Karangas. We were adopted by the Batogwas . . . My great grandfather was a Lutheran evangelist so he came with some German missionaries . . . The Munyepawu were chief agriculturalists at the time and we had to look for fertile land (which) is masikela and that is how we became Masekela.” Stunning? You are very right there.

Zimbo Diaspora
I am twiddling my thumbs and musing about who else will come out clean. We know that Dorothy Masuka is from Zimbabwe as well.

There was a time when we heard murmurings that Yvonne Machaka, famously known as Yvonne Chaka Chaka and reggae icon Lucky Dube were also local. Dube is late and so we may never know. Chaka Chaka looks eerily like my elder sister. Seriously though, Oskido has been upfront about where he is from.

He is a vital cog in the South African music industry, isn’t he? Another celebrity, well loved Zimbo is Sophie Ndaba who stars as Queen Moroka on famous South African soapie Generations.

Recently revealed is Rami Chuene who acts as Khomotjo who told guests at a dinner in Bulawayo about her Zimbo roots. Notably, the late ANC leader Chief Albert Luthuli a Nobel Prize winner, had roots in Zimbabwe.

My conclusion is that Africa is a country. Africa is one despite the xenophobia. Our peoples’ ties go deeper than we want to admit.

It’s stunning how folk want to emphasize the differences in terms of tribe and language. It is very Babylonian. I mean that was the place where the tribes scattered and language confusion ensued according to the Bible.

Culture Beat’s own folk are a mixed bag! Shangaans who mixed with Ndaus. Ask him one Shangaan word and he will tell you not. A long way from the Eastern Highlands and now living in Bulawayo married to a Ndebele woman. Who really cares which tribe you are from? If it’s black, it’s Africa son!

Intwasa Arts Festival controversy
Now on the theme of language, tribe, origins etc . . . I was unfortunate to experience a conversation about the Bayethe Concert slated for this year’s Intwasa Arts Festival.

Intwasa is a big brand in Bulawayo and Zimbabwe at large. So you are walking down the streets of Bulawayo and one of the posters you will find is one of the Bayethe Concert headlined by award-winning Sulumani Chimbetu.

Some are vowing not to attend the concert miffed by the inclusion of Chimbetu on the bill which they feel should have reflected a more “local” taste.

What does Chimbetu have to do with Bayethe? Well I can’t speak for the organisers except to repeat what a respected and local theatre exponent shared with me yesterday: “Bro, the father of the boy (Simon) respected Amakhosi so much.

Every time he came to Bulawayo he would make the pilgrimage there and eat, sleep on the lawn while waiting for his scheduled time.

He would even take a shower there. What I am saying is that he valued the Amakhosi brand. Moreover, his son did the same during the Namas.

I will tell you that as a performer, the boy (Sulu) has his own music as well as the hits his father made. So I believe the show will prove to be something.” My own take is that I get how some may take Chimbetu’s inclusion as a slight, but there is nothing to stop Ndolwane Super Sounds from being part of the bill.

The trouble with local artistes is that very few can pull the crowds that could help the promoters get a decent return on investment. It’s just a fact. Thankfully that is slowly shifting . . .

Where is Sulu from by the way?
Chimbetu’s folk are originally from Malawi.

But he is Zimbo born isn’t he ? Does it matter also that one of Zimbabwe’s greatest arts practitioners Simon Mambazo Phiri’s folk hail from there? It sure doesn’t matter. So hopefully there are no tribal connotations with regards to why Sulu is headlining the concert.

He is simply one of the titans of local music. You don’t have to like him. He is a national award winning artist simple and klaar.

Parting shot
Come and learn something. On reflection, imagine Cosatu leading a demonstration against Joyous Celebration for including our Mkhululi Bhebhe in its line-up and adding injury or slight to South African artistes by having him sing Shona songs! Life doesn’t work that way.

Again, maybe it would be just good to appease the wrathful by including Family Voices and Martin Ndebele alongside Sulumani at the Bayethe Concert. Bayethe again!

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