BY WINSTONE ANTONIO
OCTOBER will forever be remembered as the sad month in which celebrated sungura icon Tongai “Dhewa” Moyo breathed his last at St Anne’s Hospital in Harare, leaving a huge void in the lives of both his family and his legion of fans.
It was on October 15, 2011, nine years ago, when the Utakataka Express frontman succumbed to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer that affects the white blood cells.
Ironically, October is the breast cancer awareness month.
While it is nearly a decade later, the indelible mark that Dhewa made on the music scene is memorable.
And rightly so, music lovers and pundits alike have been discussing the huge void the late “Igwe” left behind.
Many opine that with him gone, there is no competition for his archrival Alick Macheso, who can now afford lengthy breaks without releasing any new material.
After Moyo’s death in 2011, Macheso released Kwatakabva Mitunhu the following year, then went for four years without any new material, until he gave his fans Tsoka Dzerwendo in 2016.
Two years on, he came back with Dzinosvitsa Kure.
Even now, two years after his last release, he seems not to be in a hurry since there is no threat on the market.
In the few years leading to Dhewa’s death, the competition had kept either of the two artistes on their toes.
Every show was memorable because even when they were not playing on open stage, none would afford to slacken.
Promoters cashed in on the duo’s “battle”. Although the artistes never publicly admitted to their “fights”, their lyricism oft betrayed the enmity.
While Dhewa’s heir, his eldest son Peter, has tried every trick in the book, even mimicking the lead singer, the shoes have proved to be too big for him.
The “Young Igwe” has made it a tradition to commemorate his father’s life and legacy through shows themed Dhewa Commemorations.
But these have failed to douse the flames that continue to consume the Utakataka Express ship.
If self-styled prophets Talent Madungwe and Paul Sanyangore were able to share the Almighty’s phone number, I would have called to report that Dhewa’s legacy was under a serious threat.
For now, I will leave it at that and let Peter continue living in the shadows of his late father where he seems determined to eternally remain.
In separate interviews with NewsDay Life & Style yesterday, some artistes, promoters and creative sector stakeholders described Dhewa as a legend whose void cannot be easily filled.
Veteran music promoter Josh “JazzyJosh” Hozheri said Dhewa valued professionalising the industry and also respected his fans.
“Tongai Moyo was a great musician and instrumentalist who had professionalism at heart and his dedication to please his fans remains unmatched. With or without a bumper crowd, he would go all out to deliver for the sake of his fans,” Hozheri said.
“I will forever cherish his positive attitude towards promoters as he would always be encouraging you even in bleakest of times. He must be remembered and it is my wish to have a public lecture one day so that up-and-coming artistes would learn how great artistes like him worked.”
Award-winning promoter Biggie Chinoperekwei, of Devine Assignments, said: “I miss the guy (Tongai Moyo), I miss the vibe he brought to the industry and the professionalism.
“He never missed a show; he came even when he was ill. His last show would have been at one of our establishments, City Sports Bar. He assured us he was coming. We knew he would come. Unfortunately, he never did. That was his last day,” Chinoperekwei said.
Partson “Chipaz” Chimbodza, of Chipaz Promotions, said: “I have a few words for Dhewa, no man of his character will I ever find in this world. To him wherever he is, I say rest in peace ’til we meet again.”
Different social media platforms yesterday were awash with messages of remembrance from fans and artistes alike with many posting their pictures with the late icon.
Posting on his Facebook, Dendera ace Sulumani Chimbetu said he learnt a lot from the sungura legend whom he remembered for being “always on point” on and off stage.
“It is nine good years today since you departed this earth. During my time with you, I learnt a great wealth of your attributes, the love you held for the game (music) and the fans, the fashion and style you introduced,” he said.
“This photo has remained very profound to me because it was our last show together. Cabin Crew, on this day, Dhewa told me that he had gone against his doctor’s advice that he could not perform due to his health state. ‘I am doing this for my fans, they come first’, he told me before he thanked me for standing by him during his troubled times.”
Arts critic Plot Mhako said the death of Dhewa marked the slowdown of sungura music.
“Nine years on and the Tongai Moyo legacy still lives. His music never stopped playing, but his death marked the slowdown of sungura music,” he said.
“The competition that Tongai brought into the industry stirred great interest and healthy competitive growth for the music industry and that remains missing. The legend will forever be missed.”
Mhako said it was great to see Moyo’s children carrying on his legacy and the recent entry of Obert (Moyo) may bring another Dhewa spark.
May his soul rest in peace Dhewa.