Legendary musician Manatsa laid to rest

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BY WINSTONE ANTONIO
THE late legendary musician Zexie Manatsa (78), who succumbed to cancer on Thursday last week at Parirenyatwa, was laid to rest at Warren Hills Cemetery in Harare yesterday.

Government granted a State-assisted funeral for the iconic musician despite calls by the public that he be declared a liberation hero.

He was interred next to soccer legend George Shaya.

Scores of mourners, among them family members, creatives, Zaoga congregants, politicians, arts stakeholders and music fans thronged the graveyard to bid farewell to the Chipo Chiroorwa hitmaker.

In his graveyard eulogy, Uzumba MP Simbaneuta Mudarikwa (Zanu PF) described Manatsa as a patriotic musician who promoted Zimbabwean music and
culture.

“I started to work with Zex Manatsa doing music promotion when I was 18 years old. Manatsa was a good role model who managed to wed in a stadium, showing true love, something that cannot be achieved by many today as the wedding can be interrupted due to disloyalty,” he said.

“Manatsa, through his music, managed to enlighten our people that as a nation, we were under colonial rule. When the Lancaster House Agreement was signed (December 21, 1979), he then stopped doing live shows and handed over his music equipment to the Zanu-PF commissariat showing how patriotic he was.”

Manatsa’s son, Tendai, the husband of fellow musician Selmor Mtukudzi, told NewsDay Life & Style that the family was happy to have been joined by scores of people to celebrate his father’s life.

“I want to thank all the people whom I cannot mention by their names and our government as they helped and joined us in mourning,” he said.

“My father was just a simple person as evidenced by those who have joined us from the day they received the sad message of his death until today at his burial.”

Dendera musician Sulumani Chimbetu and gospel singer Michael Mahendere gave short performances at the graveyard.

Born on January 1, 1944, Manatsa started his music career at a tender age in Mhangura, Mashonaland West province.

He went on to form the Green Arrows band and is well-known for songs such as Chipo Chiroorwa and the album Tsuro Soccer Star, which carried hit songs praising soccer teams namely Caps United, Highlanders, Zimbabwe Saints and Dynamos.

At the peak of his career, Manatsa inspired many musicians of his era such as Chimurenga maestro Thomas Mapfumo, the late national hero Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi, James Chimombe, Leonard Dembo and Simon Chimbetu.

Manatsa also hogged the limelight when he wedded his lover Stella at a packed Rufaro Stadium in 1979, attracting about 50 000 people who had to pay a dollar each to attend.

He is survived by wife Stella Manatsa (nee Katehwe) and six children.

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