RASTA kwasa musician, Dino Mudondo (pictured) is frantically trying to revive his career in South Africa, after having had to deal with a raft of personal problems that saw him tumble from the peak of his musical prowess. Dino has a glory-laden past that saw him release hits such as Chirangano, Ndichakumirira, Makoi Koi featuring Willom Tight and Jatropha. NewsDay Life & Style Reporter Winstone Antonio (ND) caught up with Mudondo (DM), who took him down memory lane.
By Winstone Antonio
ND: How have you settled across the Limpopo?
DM: I have managed to settle down well in both musical circles and my other business. Since relocating here, I have played host to a lot of Zimbabwean artistes like Tocky Vibes, Peter Moyo and Andy Muridzo. While my popularity is slowly growing with locals (South Africans) I have become a darling of many Zimbabwean fans living abroad, as I’m playing in mostly Zimbabwean-owned clubs like Chishona, Jimmy Jimalo, Copacabana and Chicago Pub.
ND: Compared to South Africa, how best can you describe Zimbabwean music scene?
DM: Zimbabwe music is far ahead of South Africa. Zimbabwe has talented artistes, while in South Africa they have mainly a “bubble gum” type of music, so they don’t have hits that can last for a year, but that one song brings them a lot of money such that the majority of them are now millionaires.
ND: Would you say their government has policies to aid that?
DM: Their government policies recognise arts as an industry that employs a lot of people and can bring in a lot of foreign currency in terms of exporting their music and going on international tours.
For the year I have been here, I have never heard any DJ play any Zimbabwean track unless it is a collaboration with a Zimbabwean artiste and a South African like Tuku and Ringo or with Mahube or Jah Prayzah and Mafikizolo.
The (Zimbabwean) government allows daylight robbery of artistes’ works as they are pirated. You can see the law enforcement agents buying pirated CDs on the street instead of arresting the pirates.
ND: Are you hoping for any policy changes in that regard?
DM: I plead with our President Emerson Mnangagwa to wake up one day and say there will be no more music piracy in Zimbabwe and 99% airplay of local broadcast content so that maybe artistes can earn a living through music.
ND: Any plans of coming back to Zimbabwe?
DM: I have made it here and I can make it anywhere else although it is not an easy road to just wake up and say I am going to a foreign country, where you don’t know anybody.
When I arrived, I was well received by both promoters like Eyo Mistopher and fans, which made my welcome awesome as South Africa became my second home.
I thank big promoters, who have showed me all the corners of my new base and my boss, Chris Chakoma, for signing me to CC promotions, housing me and buying all the live music kit and studio gear.
ND: You will be releasing a new album, Rasta Loving soon, tell us more about it?
DM: It will be my 18th studio album, since I released my debut album, Makorokoto, in 2002.
In this album, I am answering my multitudes of fans, who have been asking of my whereabouts and why I had gone so quiet for too long.
This album will be my first all-reggae album, as I am saying I am back as a full reggae artiste. The album, Manjenjenje, carries eight reggae tracks.
ND: There is also a track dedicated to your daughters. Tell us about this.
DM: Track number five, Mwana Wangu, is dedicated to my two daughters, Viv and Ivy, who I have not seen since separating with their mother.
It pains me so much that I have not been able to see them grown or do everything a father would do for his children. My prayer is that I will see them one day.
ND: And there is also a track dedicated to Andy Brown?
DM: The last track on the album is a tribute to honour my late music brother, mentor and friend, Andy Brown, who passed away while we were preparing to record an album together. What he said and taught me will always be treasured. Andy told me to just write and sing from the heart.
ND: Can you say you have achieved what you wanted in showbiz?
DM: They say life begins at 40 and I am turning 40 this year. Musically, I still feel brand new and it is just the beginning of a new era for me.
With a new United Kingdom recording company interested in my signature and having already started grooming me for my first all-English reggae album, I can say the sky is the limit.
ND: How far true are claims that you no longer see eye to eye with Willom Tight, whom you collaborated with on a number of hit songs that include Makoi Koi?
DM: Willom was my father in music when I started off in 2002. I owe the success of my first album, Makorokoto, to him for his mentorship in crafting my timeless, classic and number one hit of all times, Chirangano Chedu.
With such a monster hit, we became Zimbabwe’s most wanted duo and went on to record big songs like Bhazi, Ndichakumirira, Paidamoyo and Rudo Rwechokwadi.
Everyone keeps asking me about Willom. Well, money, women, (poor) management, contributed to the split. Some people say I got big-headed.
We had signed up with the Rooftop Promotions, whose management included boss Daves Guzha and (Okay) Machisa. Some would favour Willom and others would favour Dino and that got us to think differently and, sadly, we went our separate ways.
ND: But how was your working relationship with Willom?
DM: With Willom, we worked together very well and when he realised I could now stand on my own, he weaned me off just like what he has done with his son, Garry Tight, a super star in waiting.
This is a tradition in music, as we have seen with the likes of sungura giants Shepherd Chinyani and Nicholas Zakaria, grooming and weaning off talent.
It should not be a crime that Alick Macheso decided to leave Zakaria, because that also marks the growth of the industry.
With Willom, we are now penning some songs, sending each other lyrical notes and melodies as we are constantly in touch. I am happy to announce that, yes, Willom and Dino are still a team and we have got masterpieces, which we are ready to record and get back on the road and tour the world just like before.
What is missing is just that person to manage us, finance the project, put a band together for us and get us started otherwise we are ready.
ND: You also have a tour in the pipeline?
DM: I have since invited Willom to feature on my upcoming album and confirmed a tour we will start in Cape Town at the end of this month alongside Soul Jah Love, Sniper Storm and Maskiri.
ND: You are accused of snatching Peter Moyo’s girlfriend. Is that true?
DM: (Laughing) That must have happened some five or so years ago. It was just mischief of boyhood before I got married.
Things have change and with Peter we are in good books. We have shared the stage in Johannesburg and we are actually planning a duet.