Gede Mwana Gede now generator mechanic

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GODFREY Mhere, who was popularly known as Gede Mwana Gede while dancing for the Ngwenya Brothers in the ’90s, has been making a living through repairing generators although he still dances when the storm seizes him.

SHADRECK MARIRIMBA

He is fondly remembered by local musical fans as the short, stout and funny-looking man whose exquisite dancing skills made him a marvel to watch on stage when the Ngwenya Brothers outfit was still at the height of its musical journey.

“I am still a dancer, but as for now I am concentrating on my company called Gede Generators,” he told NewsDay, clad in a greasy work suit.

Mhere’s height, at 1,2 metres, had always been a marvel and gave him an edge on stage, which was always a draw card for fans.

“When I was in music, some people used to come and watch me mainly because I was short and I capitalised on that to prove to the world that I can dance,” explained Gede.

Mhere said he did not consider himself disabled and regarded his height as “a gift from God” as he was “just a dwarf”.

“As a dwarf many thought I was disabled and saw me unfit to do anything in life. But look at me now. I am a fitter and turner by profession and thanks to the white man I worked for as a garden boy in Malbereign many years ago who paid for my education,” he said.

Acceptance, however, did not come easy as Mhere’s height did not sit well with other people.

“I would fall in love with girls, but upon paying lobola, many parents and families would refuse to accept my bride price saying I was a goblin,” he said. “It was so bad that even children used to laugh at me when they saw me passing by. I was a laughing stock and some still see me in that way.

“But this is who I am and I am proud of it.”

Mhere was born in a family of six boys where he said dancing and music were God-given gifts. He is an elder brother to gospel music sensation Mathias Mhere.

“Mathias is my younger brother and we support each other as a family,” Mhere said.

Many musicians wallow in abject poverty many years after their careers have fizzled out, but Mhere decided to start his own company, Gede Generators, to ensure the comfort and security of his family during his twilight years.

Born on January 24 1969, Mhere spent most of his youth in Chivhu before his family relocated to Manyoni Village 24 in Mhondoro.

He worked as a gardener between 1989 and 1991 before teaming up with his friends and the late Thomas Tapfuma to form a drama group called Chingorimba Drama Club.

The drama group toured southern Africa, but later disbanded, after which Mhere joined Tedious Matsito’s Ngwenya Brothers in 1993.

In the same year, the band recorded an album titled Chakanaka Chakanaka which became a hit and from which Mhere would get his nickname, Gede Mwana Gede, from a type of dance that he “invented”.

When Ngwenya Brothers were involved in an accident which left Matsito paralysed, most band members sought other avenues to generate income although the group did not disband.

“I am still with Tedious although I am working full-time here at my company. We still visit each other and I always assist him when necessary,” he said.

When one arrives at his company premises at Kuwadzana 5 Shopping Centre in Harare, he is greeted by the sight of generators, new and old, with clients waiting to have theirs repaired.

“Gede is a good man. He is an expert and we believe in him,” said one client, Kudakwashe Gwete, who had brought his malfunctioning generator.

Mhere, however, expressed concern that most band owners were paying their members “peanuts”, adding that this had spawned conflicts and splits, which he said had damaged the country’s music industry.

He is married to Christina Mashingaidze and they have four children. He has managed to build an eight-roomed house for his family in Harare.

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