IT seems Chimurenga music is too heavy that no one besides Thomas “Mukanya” Mapfumo can lift it to the level of public appreciation.
Since Mukanya coined this beat, many have unsuccessfully tried to emulate him. When he was still in the country (before relocating to the United States) the likes of the late Farai “Pio” Macheka, Bryn Mteki and the late Robson Banda took up Chimurenga music with minimal achievements.
The competition was tough because Mukanya was on top of his game and these musicians could not have dethroned him.
However, when the Chimurenga maestro left the country and left a gap, especially in local live performances, it was generally anticipated that a new Chimurenga king would rise.
Raymond Majongwe and Evans “Vanso” Sekete joined the race to fill the void and released some albums in addition to staging numerous live shows. The going still proved tough for this new crop of Chimurenga players.
For personal reasons, Majongwe became less active in the industry and let members of his Freedom Orchestra band form their own outfit in the mould of Talking Guitars. Although Majongwe sometimes features at Talking Guitars’ shows, his zeal for serving local Chimurenga fans has depreciated.
All is left to his contemporary Vanso and his Victory Band to strive for the local survival of Chimurenga performances. With two albums to his name, Vanso is still fighting for the Chimurenga cause.
The musician says his heart longs for the day Mukanya returns home to serve his starved fans and promises to try his best to keep Chimurenga fans warmed up through live shows. Since last month, he has been staging shows at Mushandirapamwe Hotel in Highfield every Sunday.
The Hotel is known for grooming some of the country’s top musicians and Vanso said he is hoping to bank on this background to take his career to another level.
Vanso spoke to NewsDay about the challenges of penetrating Chimurenga ranks and his passion for the genre.
“I admire Mukanya a lot and he is of great inspiration to my music,” said Vanso.
“I passionately followed his music from years back. When I got into the industry, I just felt I should follow in his footsteps in a bid to entertain Chimurenga fans.
“When I was following his music I did not know I would be a musician. It happened by chance when I was called from the crowd to join Jabavu Drive on stage some years ago. It was just for fun, but those who heard my voice encouraged me to pursue music.”
He said the instruments needed to produce a good Chimurenga beat posed a challenge of investing in manpower.
“I have a 13-member band and anyone can tell you it is not easy to sustain such a group, especially considering our level in the industry. The band cannot sustain itself and I am doing my best to keep it intact because a lot of financial support is needed.
“People have been responding well to our Sunday shows at Mushandirapamwe. We are determined to give Chimurenga fans something to cheer about in Mukanya’s absence.”