Farewell thee Daiton Somanje!But such was your turbulent life. From the very first day I met you in your hometown of Marondera, you admitted that all was not well in every aspect of your life.
by Jairos Saunyama
But before meeting you, and having spent 22 years of my life in rural Chikurumadziva, Wedza, Pengaudzoke was my favourite ensemble.
I remember during the 90s when we would all throng Baba Nyakusendwa’s store on Christmas Day to have a treat of museve music. Baba Nyakusendwa had in possession your music cassette for he knew that his playlist without Pengaudzoke would scare away potential customers, automatically losing customers to rival shop owner Mudhara Chindove.
We would dance to the scintillating song Mwanangu Seiko Kuonda, among other tracks, for more than half an hour.
But as young boys, we were so mesmerised when you chanted . . . Engineer, Secondary, Vhuraishini, Wadaaa, Ngativarire Khiama.
On our way home, as we passed through the grazing lands, we would be heard from afar shouting the same chants as we drove our cattle into the pen.
Some of the boys even named their cattle Secondary or Engineer, all inspired by you.
Such was life during that era.
After 22 years, I came to the capital, where life was faster, modern and more meaningful.
In the capital things were very modern, to the extent that I lost interest for some the sungura musicians. I had become a reggae fanatic!
But the memories were brought when I joined the media world as an entertainment reporter. The nature of the job forced me to love museve again.
I first met you in 2011 at Marondera Magistrates’ Court where you were seeking to evict your family from your Dombotombo house. You wanted to sell the house for reasons best known to you.
When you realised my presence, you charged towards me and accused me of taking sides with your eldest son. You also blasted the media for venturing into your personal life.
But that was the day we became close.
From then onwards, each time we met, you would admit that music was no longer bringing food on the table. But you soldiered on, recorded albums that never saw the light of the day.
One day, you shocked me when you clearly told me that your personal life had affected your career. We were chatting over lunch at Red Rat Outdoor, an entertainment joint in Marondera, where you said that Pengaudzoke Band was meaningless without your brother Josphat.
You opened up that Pengaudzoke would be concluded the day you join your ancestors.
Today, you are no longer with us. All your endeavours in reviving your waning career will be remembered.
Despite Pengaudzoke Band no longer existing following your split with Josphat, you kept on holding shows around farms near Marondera where you charged only US$1 per show.
Now, the future of Pengaudzoke lies in your son Faheem, who stood in for you at the shows that you were billed to perform.
But who is Pengaudzoke?
Pengaudzoke was founded by the soft-spoken Josphat in 1985 at a farm in the Beatrice area, Mashonaland East Province.
They released their debut single Chinhu Chevaridzi in 1988 and the flipside had Vanhu Vandawile (People are having problems) which were both written by Daiton.
Then in 1989, the duo released another single Tezvara Revai Pfuma.
In 1990, they made a major breakthrough releasing their debut album Kwatakabva Kure Nenhamo that featured the hit tracks Munonditaura and Famba Mwana.
Although the two brothers had both contributed equally on the project credit was given to Daiton and that was the case too in 1991 and 1992 when the poorly marketed albums Muchandipei and Pengaudzoke Zvakare were released.
Josphat rose to fame in 1993 when the song Seiko Kuonda hit the market.
It was during this period when Rangarirai Mupombera and Tinarwo Chandavengerwa, cousins of the Somanjes, joined Pengaudzoke.
However, when things were becoming bright a disagreement over money swept across the group.
The Ngolovela twins Laison and Malefula, Clever, Tinarwo and Rangarirai left to form Pengapenga.
The disagreement was ignited when Daiton and Josphat suggested buying a vehicle for the band. Josphat was the finance manager by then.
The two brothers started assembling a new group by recruiting Lawrence Kampira as a rhythm guitarist, Farai Chakwingwa as a drummer, Usafare Chakwingwa as a bass guitarist and a female dancer.
The new band recorded Ndega Ndega Zvangu in 1994 followed by Zvogondipei in 1995 both of which did not do well on the local market.
In 1995 they released a six-track album Titonganisei which reflected the problems the group had encountered. The album was released after the return of Clever and Tinarwo while Laison and Malefula formed The Twin Brothers.
Pengaudzoke became popular again in 1996 with Zvibate Pamhaka, Mandivavarira in 1998, Sakunatsa Sakubayiwa in 1999 and Tsaona in 2000.This is the time when their relationship started deteriorating.
It is reported that the feud came to light when Josephat, who could drive by then, used the group’s vehicle on a journey to Malawi at a time when there was talk of witchcraft in the family.
Actually Josphat had ferried his sick mother-in-law and because Daiton’s late wife was ill, the latter believed that the former was responsible for all the afflictions.
Josphat couldn’t bear the pressure and formed Somanje Stars, recruiting Douglas Akim, Brighton Kerias, Wilson Meka (now with Alick Macheso) and Gibson Lameck, most of who were later snatched by Daiton.
Josphat released Sango Remichero (2002), Kudya Kwenzeve (2003), Ndozvazviri (2004), Nhengure (2005) and others.
He later rose to stardom in 2009 with album This Time which featured the hit songs Haulume and Maggie Mukaranga.
That’s how prominence, witchcraft accusations and the love of money led to the downfall of the once vibrant group. Though there were frantic efforts by fans and promoters to bring back the brothers musically, it was unsuccessful as they both made it public that it was not going to happen.
There is time for everything, a time to be born and a time to die. It is a pity that you are no longer part of us, but you left us some of Zimbabwe’s finest music that you will always be remembered for.
Your songs were prophetic; they told the story of your life and experiences.
In one of your songs, your included these lyrics …Kumakuva hakuna shasha shamwari unoinda when literally translated into English says everyone regardless of status will die.
Rest in peace, Daiton, you fought a good fight.